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Best Famous Jennifer Reeser Poems

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by Jennifer Reeser |

Civilization

 Send your army home to their wives and children.
It is late. Your soldiers are burdened, thirsty.
Lock the doors, the windows, and here in darkness
 lie down beside me.

Speak of anything we possess in common:
ground or law or sense. Only speak it softly.
Spiders crawl the crevices. Violent voices
 ruin their balance,

and they’ll fall – intuit – upon our faces,
where I fear them most. But you’ve heard this terror,
and my midnight phobias always move you –
 cause to remain here.

Leave a light still burning, in some far wall sconce.
Tuck one rebel end of the flat sheet under.
Turn away, self-ruled, to remind me even
 Sappho was mortal,

even Shakespeare, writing of cups and spiders
in his winter’s tale. Send your tin men home, then.
Once I asked your reason to stay. You said,
 “Because you’re still with me.”


by Jennifer Reeser |

Should You Ask At Midnight

 What would I do without your voice to wake me?
Cor ad cor loquitur, I’m loath to know.
Kitsch operas sound, unhesitant to shake me,
The sheers undrawn, the heavens hardly showing,
My camisole askew, of lace-trimmed black –
Not red, not white; not passionate or pure.
I raise the volume, and the voices crack—
Vanilla scores: accessible, obscure.
But what would I do without your certain voice?
Disjecta membra ... I am loath to think.
This negligée is sable, but my choice
If black had been forbidden, would be pink:
The blood of ballet satins, quartz, the lover,
That cut from which I never could recover.


by Jennifer Reeser |

Civic Centre (for Kathryn)

 Moscow ballet at seven in the evening.
You look at everything. You lay your cheek
against my shoulder, smoothing down my sleeve,
the Russian blizzards somehow less than bleak,
portrayed with whimsy on the backdrop screens
in dolloped watercolors as they are.
I ask if you know what their movement means.
You wish our situation not so far.

And everywhere, the audience defies
convention and conformity, some dressed
as though they had been made to improvise
at the last minute, some in black-tie best.

You’re happy, in new satin, having run
your fingers countless times from hip to hem –
Anastasia, whereas I am anyone
in tan, beside a jade and garnet gem.

With clarity and ease like these a-stage,
comparison with any else in life
seems but the smart annoyance of an age,
scissors beside a blunted paperknife.

“Sit up. Pay close attention. Sugar Plum
is dancing with such dignity,” I tell
you, half-disheartened, when I hear you hum,
you know Tchaikovsky’s symphony so well.


by Jennifer Reeser |

This Night Slip In His Honor (after Komachi)

 This night slip, in his honor
flipped inside out – of lace-
edged netting – is the color
of Shaka Zulu’s face;

of panther flower at midnight
where crow and boa doze;
of vertigo and stage fright
in frail Ophelia’s clothes.

I wear it as a symbol.
Its ripped, Chantilly trim
I fixed without a thimble,
was pricked and bled for him.

A torn band may be mended,
but what if he and I
disband, no longer blended?
My spine turned to the sky,

reflecting on my dresser
from mirror-fine sateens:
the Great Bear with the Lesser…
I dream of Shoji screens,

and when desire becomes
an overlaying itch,
the throbbing in my thumbs
untenable to stitch,

sleek, fitted, with the passion
of Shaka Zulu’s face,
reversed and fringe-of-fashion,
I put it on, in place

of achromatic egrets,
the vacant crystal ball.
Victoria has secrets.
I am her baby doll.


by Jennifer Reeser |

Imagining you’d come to say goodbye...

 Imagining you’d come to say goodbye,
I made a doll of raffia and string.
I gave her thatch hair, and a broomstick skirt
of patchwork satin rags. Around each eye
I stitched thick lashes. Such a touching thing
she was! That even you could not debate –
impassive, undemanding and inert.
Yes, surely she’d cause you yourself to sigh.
Around her breast, I sewed a loden ring
to guard her cotton heart from being hurt,
then sat down in the fabric scraps to wait,
between the rafters and the furnace grate,
needle in hand, and never so aware
no craft on earth is master to despair.


by Jennifer Reeser |

Compass Rose

 I’d buy you a Babushka doll, my heart,
and brush your ash-blonde hair until it gleams,
were Russia and our land not laid apart
by ocean so much deeper than it seems.

I have an oval pin, though -- glossy lacquer
hand-made in Moscow, after glasnost came,
with fine, deft roses on a background blacker
perhaps, than history’s collective shame.

I’ve done my best to compass you with roses:
the tablecloth, the walls, the pillowcase,
the western side-yard only dusk discloses
briefly, in Climbing Blaze and Queen Anne’s lace.

May they suffice for peace when you discover
your love is not enough to turn the earth.
I dream I saw a handful of them hover
against my pane the morning of your birth.


by Jennifer Reeser |

The Neighborhood

 I wish I could,
 like some, forget,
and never anguish,
 nor regret,

dismissive, free
 to roam the street,
no matter how
the visions meet.

Remembrance is
 a neighborhood
where convicts live
 with great and good,

its roads of red,
 uneven brick,
whose surfaces –
 both rough and slick –

spread out into
 a patchwork plan.
Sometimes at night
 I hear a man

vault past the fence,
 and cross the yard,
my door chain down, 
 and me off-guard.

He curses, threatens,
 pounds the door.
I’m wedged between
 the couch and floor,

ungainly, barefoot,
 limp and pinned,
scared of the dark,
 without a friend,

with only one
 clear thought, that I –
like him, like you –
 don’t want to die.


by Jennifer Reeser |

Elizabeth Leaves A Letter For Dr. Frankenstein

 Whether the clouds had abandoned Geneva that evening
no one can say now, but what I remember are roses
bruised at their edges, and china cups yellowed with age.
“I am too sick of interior vapors,” I told you,
“Find us a corner of sunlight, and hammer it down...
Tell me again I’m so lovely the insects won’t bite.”
Do you remember it, Victor? A time before pleasure
turned into sacrilege hungry to threaten the dead.
So many secrets you whispered -- but I, like a child
drawn to myself, hale and hearty to hear my own weeping,
bored by your ghost stories, left you both late and too soon.
Sunshine deserted or altered the tops of the grasses
subtly, with each changing breeze, as the shadows required --
dark, but not black, like my hair; and you claimed that each instant
some auburn-browed woman appeared, I re-entered your mind.
Later or sooner, our futures will enter it, too.
Now, though, it seems hope’s a difficult vision to conjure;
what you imagine of beauty so lodged in grim trivia
even the sentences spoken inside it are dark.
Mourning will fade, though, I know -- like your Ingolstadt nightmare.
Bells will resound. I will come to you. All will be well.


by Jennifer Reeser |

Leaning Over Eros

 She recognizes him at last as Other,
not Self. I see her in my mind, hot wax
about to plummet from the lifted candle.
Should closeness be so vulnerable to fact?

The wrinkles in her gown – a troubling grayness
amid chaste white – I see as always moved
by some upended breeze against their terrace;
his face I see as turned, not wholly proved,

his faith in her confirmed in that he sleeps.
She scorches one long finger on the flame.
It all takes place unerringly and fluid
as Psyche’s first defeat of Cupid’s aim.

And you are...somewhere. Never mind my grief.
It springs from sources better left unseen,
when in this life, I scour my own gray wrinkles
between our nights. But they will not come clean.


by Jennifer Reeser |

French Quarter Singer

 Strumming your polished guitar with long, nail-lightened fingers,
where are you now, leaning forward a peasant-dressed arm –
lark on the near side of midnight, my crescent curb lady,
ear to your sound, dangling each with a silver folk charm?
Sweet was your voice for an evening, amid the brash jazzy –
seamless soprano, your scales a tough, platinum thread.
Angel on brick, tipping jar at your feet, were you happy
smiling at me through the blonde of your half-hanging head?
Monies I dropped in its opening I have forgotten.
Doubtless you spent them with virtue as pure as your song.
And if you didn’t, no damage, oh cantor of sugar:
Fair was your all for one night. You will keep my love long.