My poetry chapbook Hound of Heaven was a runner-up for the inaugural Women of Words Award from Southern Hum Press and will be published this fall. Thanks, Southern Hum! I’ll include a purchasing link on this site when the book is out. Below, a sample:
Hound of Heaven
It had been raining days when the voice
asked me to pull over by the river.
Not a voice to be heard but simply a must:
the arm moves with the thought, no word says Move.
The branches cocked like muskets, spearing the sky,
were soaked black, clouds wind-whipped dogs
cringing like cavemen placating
the weather of doom they thought was God.
Is that all I am, that bared animal neck?
I had let the pearls roll from my hands like water,
thinking anything precious could save itself.
I was silently wed to the clever,
dazzled by small explanations.
Still I turned the car, slowed, stood under the fall
of cold silver needles like a sick child praying
be good and it’ll soon be over.
There were the reed-clotted banks and the fists of trees
and in the river only a projected world
no gentler, no more likely to change.
Till a soft wind, someone, ruffled the waters
and the trees cracked apart, lovely as first tears after a death.
Most deadly, most delicate, the jewel-toned frog
like a crown behind museum glass
tempts a perverse grab. Once name it rare,
monkey-mind will do anything for more.
The tiny scarlet body barely breathes,
on limbs like sapphire mined from colonies
to mount in a tourist-dazzling diadem.
Is power in the plough and jungles hacked
and spill of oil like pavement on the sea –
or clinging softly underneath a leaf
as our murky water, crowded air,
flows through the tree frog’s bright defensive skin?
Beauty-mad, how could we not lick and stroke
and die? Soft as a fruit and berry-red,
it tempts us to devour what we love,
to steal the crown of knowing everything.
first published in The New Pantagruel (2005)
Re: Dendrobatidae –
This reminds me of how I have always envisioned the fall of Adam and Eve – the kind of temptation to self destruction, the inability to do what is wise, what it smart, what would save us. We indulge, instead, even when we know the craving is for poison.
Both excerpts are densely vivid – I enjoyed them both.
Jendi—I love your images and your subtext as I interpret it. Certainly is different from the choices you
make for the poetry contests you judge. You seem to have a penchant for Greek recreation which totally turns me off. I also find the pictures of you in a casual view on your BLOCK very much more real than the one that appears on the poetry site.
Looking forward to reading more of your work.
Hello, comrade! I’m utterly accede to that way of assessment and all of connected.