Jennifer was the featured poet on Poetry Daily‘s May 20th edition with this poem from her new book, Exclusions & Limitations. Another of the book’s poems, “How to Clean Practically Anything,” appeared previously on Poetry Daily.
“Persephone” premiered in Heartland Theatre‘s 10-Minute Play Festival in June 2018 and will be published in The Best Ten-Minute Plays 2018, edited by Lawrence Harbison and forthcoming from Smith and Kraus.
The thing about juggling—what no one really knows—is that it has no clear definition. Not unlike some people. What is it, really? Is it art or entertainment? Reality or illusion? One thing is certain: you must never take your eyes off the balls, not for a moment. For if you do—if you look away, say, at something that’s coming at you…then everything falls.
Rodney (to Audience), Juggling with Mr. Fields
assumes an innocent expression:
that sweetgum branch overhanging the walk,
gifting its shade like a deep elixir,
now seems a weight about to plummet
precisely on the spot where my child digs
with a wind-stripped twig in the clinging mud,
and even the twig’s lone leaf now holds,
to my eyes, sharp, ineradicable dangers—
until the bus arrives, its engine rumbling
time. I try to hold him
but he pulls away, climbs on
without a wave, balancing
as the bee-colored vehicle disappears
in a sunrise too bright to see into.
End of Summer, Exclusions & Limitations
I never understood the expression “heavenly bodies.” Because a) they’re not bodies, and b) they’re not in Heaven. Heaven’s a place we can’t see until we get there. If we get there. If it even exits.
She is making herself and not herself—
anguish dressed in baroque repose,
a motionlessness that is never still,
arranged, betraying nothing—
the restrained line of an eyebrow or lip,
the arc of a neck, the skillful reflection
of a sleeve of the moon-white gown
in the olive-green water
gradually assembled, balanced there
in this unexpected moment,
this small world holding its breath.
from Susannah and the Elders, White
When I was a kid I had a pitchback. I’d throw the ball to it, and if the pitch was right, it would come right back to me and land in my glove. If the pitch was wrong, the ball would end up on the lawn, rolling away. Other people are like that, I think: They’re like a pitchback. You throw your stuff at them, and if it’s right or good enough, it’ll come back to you in some way, and you’ll be changed. Of course, sometimes someone steals your pitchback, or it breaks, and you don’t know where to pitch the ball. There’s just a mass of open air before you. So you go out, and get a new one. It isn’t the same as the first one— they never are—but it’ll have its own beauty, its own tensions, its own lovely form. And when you pitch to it, if you do it carefully, it’ll respond, and pitch yourself back to you, and you’ll know who you are. Again. If you ever knew.