An old thought coming around again, for Zander

Here’s the start of a poem I never reworked. I’m hoping to get back to this place for a week or two before my courses start again.

This comes to me
As I turn over
And sounds come in.
I have given myself
The gift of these empty days
The indulgence of napping
When drowsiness overtakes me.
I resist halfheartedly, then recall
Because of this gift I have
Knowledge of the red spot
Above the bananaquit’s eye
As he chatters on the deck
Demanding bath water
In his teal green tray.
I hear too what I think
is a man shouting
From a long way off
On the tower up the mountain
Or the short term rental before
Or is it one of the goats
Separated from its flock
In the valley
down the gut?
In my humid stupor
These sounds come to me
amidst thankfulness for this time
I wonder, but not too much.
No rushing about accomplishing
More than is necessary, doing some things
While Missing many others, filling
More of one lifetime with tasks
Not nearly as meaningful.
This time now is
To slow down in
Rest a while
Before speeding up again.
Why hurry?
I hear it again now,
It is sleep calling.


This is a poem I wrote quickly last May. It seems fitting to posit if after phone conversations with residents of St. John, and looking at some news photos of Coral Bay after Otto’s rains have washed down the hills.

Rainstorm Where Man Has Been

Oh the agony
of a simple rain storm.
The gut
runs wild with pleasure
among the boulders
carrying bits of earth
runs earth stained
and soil saturated
engorged with the flesh
of the hillside
where this small gash
and that one too
has bled out
scoured wounds
in the gravel roadbed.
Even the trees shiver
and weep  for the lost earth.

© 2010 Jennifer Pierce

Poetry Portfolio – Six Assignments

These are the six poems from my Intro to Poetry course, just completed. They are revisions of poems written for weekly assignments, revised using what was learned.

Deadly Visitor – Revised

You were an uninvited guest
at the house of my mother-
a weasel in the coop,
you entered through a rat hole,
devoured everything you could
then left behind the corpse.

You cannot fool me, death,
you have slipped in before,
seeking sustenance for
your own unstated hunger.
You enter the house at will,
slip by our mortal barricades.

Now you come as a feral cat
sneaking without invitation
through the door as I leave.
You come mewling, purring
to lie on the chest of my lover
while he sleeps, your whiskers
brush his. He stirs, fidgeting
as if to knock you off, but
you have stolen all his air.

Across – Revised
Bone-building element

Some say ashes to ashes
And others dust to dust-
But I say, Here you go Ma,
you’re coming around again
from the detritus of your life.

You’ll be dissolved by rain
and taken up by roots
into the growing blades
of fescues and timothy.
Pasture grasses chewed,
will be digested a second,
third and fourth time too;
first in the rumen,
then the stomachs of the cow
that tears it from the sheath,
churns it up, ferments it
into milk that flows from the udder
to the pipe, the tank, the truck,
the carton- sloshing finally
into the thumb-print
mold pressed glass with
the red flash worn off the rim
from your puckered lips
that sipped from the glass
each day at noon with lunch
while you lingered at the table
completing a crossword.

Visiting the Woods, The Second Spring – Revised

In the clearing oak and maple, soft fir nubs,
wild blueberries throb lime green, cheerful, luminous,
each tipped by one transparent droplet-
a tiny orb reflecting this second spring.
‘Teacher teacher teacher,” an ovenbird calls
where emerald moss hugs cold stones. Nothing moves.

Unseen, cells divide, rootlets stretch into the duff seeking water,
elements dissolve in the damp, spurring soft green growth.

There beneath the white pine and quaking aspen trees
your strewn ashes sustain the wild clintonia’s bloom-
its two broad blades like hands parting after prayer
have thrust themselves through last year’s fallen leaves.
Clintonia’s nodding yellow bells ring no dirge in the drip,
instead they glow, vibrant in the flood of spring-rain sun.
The sing song call of a chickadee hidden away in the green
says this, and only once, “seee meee.”

On Spreading a Body Surfer’s Ashes – Revised

I am returning her unto thee-
casting seaward the sands of her
much as she flung her flesh in life
into thy surge that never rests,
into thy swell that attains the shore,
only to be wrenched away in the froth.
I cede her at last to your embrace,
that you may satisfy her need
to know the push and pull of you.

Your entreaties reached her ear
in the raucous squabble of terns
and booming surge of sea foam,
the suck of sand draining waves.
She was ever faithful to your call.

The salty vibrato of thy breath
pulses now over the ruffled bay
commanding her to thee in death,
and even now her spirit strains
to rejoin the surf suspended sand,
unable to resist your salty seduction.

Shore-bound, I honor her desire,
cast her into the suck of thy surf,
into thy generous swelling folds,
your fluid bosom heaving skyward
as she enters you, sparkling reflected sun-
You move together now with one motion.

Gardens of the Soul – Revised

Now up against the garden wall
only centaurea thrives, sapphire,
the color of my younger eyes,
strong amidst the creeping grass.

I remember how early each spring
we went together in search of plants,
the joy it brought, to buy them for me.
I came home and tucked them in,
and you went on your way. One August,
you offered up a columbine in seed
from your wild yard. I remember
that I said it was too late to plant,
but I was wrong. It’s nodding trumpets
herald humming birds even now
among the ferns you brought me too.

I remember your last October day-
The oak was crimson, restless;
your eyes were wide and dark
as the disks of black eyed susan
just past. You stared hard ahead,
perhaps seeing a time beyond.
I remember your head turned slowly,
as a sunflower faces west at sunset.
I remember your deep eyes seeking,
like the new roots of spring bulbs
planted that fall in cooling soil,
how your last words hung there
weighted with dark sweetness
like nicotiana in summer darkness.

I know now that the striped leaves
of red tulips planted that October
broke the hard ground again this year,
that centaurea once self-sown
can blossom unexpectedly in May,
even in a garden long abandoned.

Afternoon on a Rocky Beach – Revised

Earth here shrugs at times
sending sea-cliff tumbling.
The quiver of sharp-edged rock
humbled, now a heap of rubble
at the headland’s wading feet
where it stands in the brine,
its crusty shins worn smooth
by the surf’s relentless rubbing.

All angles, the cast off cliff
succumbs to the steady press,
the wave induced massage.
No longer vertical, piercing sky
it is submerged, then not,
at the will of the turning earth.
In the wash of tides it lets go,
shedding one grain at a time
to the salty horizontal realm.

© 2010 Jennifer Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Myth poem from assignment

Note: Writing a poem about a myth was a real challenge, and not something I would normally write a poem about.

A Case of Treachery

With a thunderbolt, then soft as the breath of life
the dust in Hephaestus’ skillful hand takes shape.
Into the forming clay he gathers Hera’s gift-
a hungry glowing coal with a will to burn.
Like a heated iron when held just right,
it can cauterize a festering wound.

In this way she is born, sent forth to man with an urn to hold.

Smoldering within, she seeks to use the iron’s rising heat
grabs hold the urn, and works the stopper loose,
thinking only of the quenching flow, she hopes
will soothe the smoking sore, thinking no one else will see.

She is engulfed instead by a brilliant flash-
slivers of sinister tinder thrusting outward
are ignited by the heat of her burning need to know.

Everything never wished for illuminates the scene as it flares.
No soothing flood rises to douse the hungry coal.

It is a fearsome blast that scorches all.

Too late.
Too late the stopper stops the jar, and heavy hope stays trapped within.
Pandora stands there shocked, bereft but wiser now.
Forever burned, as Epimetheus’ bride.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved