Jenne' Andrews is an American poet. She has three published chapbooks including the recent Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love, Finishing Line Press 2013.

A full-length collection, Reunion, Lynx House Press, was published in 1983; after a long hiatus to raise Golden Retrievers in Colorado, recent work has appeared in The Passionate Transitory, Belletrist Coterie, The Adirondack Review and Vox Populi, a journal of culture, politics and poetry published and edited by the august Michael Simms.

A bilingual collection of "Italiana," Bocca, Voce, Delirio, with translations by Lorenzo Luciani, will be released by Finishing Line at the end of 2016 and her latest collection, And Now, the Road, a finalist for the Autumn House prize in 2014, will be released by Salmon Poetry Ltd, Ireland, a highly regarded international house, Jessie Lendennie, Publisher, circa 2017.

Andrews holds the MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Colorado State University, is a literary fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and was full-time Poet in Residence for the St. Paul Schools from '74-78. She lived in St. Paul from 1971-78 during the first wave of the Twin Cities literary renaissance, and spent the summer of 1973 in Reggio Calabria, Italy.

The poet lives in northern Colorado's Poudre River Valley with her husband, fiction writer Jack Brooks; the couple has recently imported two British Golden Retrievers and expects a litter in June-- see the Ardorgold website for details. Contact: jenneandrews2010@gmail.com .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Poem for New Week...

Dear Followers and other Cyber Voyagers, incl. One Shot Artistes--

I've been working on something like a short contemporary epic poem about the beautiful province of Calabria in Italy and the entrenchment of dark forces there.  I offer it here. I put up a post about the making of and sources for this poem today at Loquaciously Yours.  xj

Odysseus Weeps...

[I]t is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing…it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told. -  Homer, Odyssey

“Una mattina mi son svegliato…di l'invasor
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao…”
--Canzione di la Resistenza di Calabria *


At dusk 
Dreaming of a distant summer
You imagine your way home
To the warm and wine-dark 
To Italy and Calabria
Where black swans gather
Drifting down one by one
To the coastline
Tide singing the exploits
Of a wayward hero
Glittering and translucent ash
From a ship on fire
Dissolving on the night
On the cliff above you
Homer wakes at his campfire
From a restless sleep
Diving past in a burning
Rush of air
To cut Odysseus loose
From the mast
Breathing against his white neck
There on the sand
In the wavering moonlight
Bringing him to life
In the mariners' cafe
A little night music
On warped 45’s
A shuffle to the concertina
You and the teller of tales
Swirl to the tarantella
One-up each other
With sagas of conquest 
Laughing together
In the warm waters
Off the Costa Viola
You have always wanted
To live at the dawn of time
This way
But now a mourning dove
Brings you news
Of a war in the streets
Of Reggio Calabria
A bloodbath there
The corpses of thugs
In doorways
You see photographs of teenagers
In the Via Candido, with a banner
Reading Adesso Amazzatecci Tutti—
Kill Us All Then
Women looking out
From behind the shutters
Of cement-block palazzi 
To the beach

The Gioa Port
Where crates of heroin
Wait for shipment to New York
In a gorse-covered meadow
In the Aspromonte
A man with grey hair 
Punctures his own wrist
Pierces a boy's wrist
Commingles their blood
One of us now Carlo,
He says, sotto voce:.
Tell no one-- that is our code
Of silence, Omerta
After the initiation
High thin voices, concertinas
And tambourines at the café’
Out in the near dark
The cigarette embers
Of those who live by vendetta
Homer takes your hand;
You ascend the hills
Of Reggio:
You see your lover and his family
Fallen at their doorway
Waiting for the death cart
Yours is a keening for the losses
Of your youth
And that of the women
The plundering of dreams
The murder of sons
With the others
You drag a clay pitcher
Through well water
Pouring a glass for fertility
A glass for grief
In the waters off Calabria,
Deep in a trawler’s hold
Ak47's are hidden
Beneath troths of ice
Packed with the bodies
Of the swordfish,
The pesce spada

Madonna and Child
Carried up the mountain
To the shrine at Polsi
Men in white hoods and robes
Gouge their own flesh
With small knives.
To atone
You look out
At thick cypress 
To hide the  villa 
Gone to ruin
A fox runs past
With a limp vole
In its mouth
You who promenade there
Surrendering your dissipation
To the evening air
Do you see the fallen
Black swan
On the white sand?
Children march daily
In the street—
Kill us all then
They chant,
To the entrenched and ruthless
Thieves of joy
Cut-throat crimini in bunkers
Of honor and blood
A mariner sails across the strait
With his spear
Impaling the pesce spada in mid air
Laughter and fresh meat at the fire
No longer:
A ragged moon rises
And there is a lament
Said to be the song
Of the ghost
Of a returning hero
Scylla and Charybdis
Contort on the pyre
Of the burning sea
Love's body drowns
And Odysseus weeps.

*..one morning I was awakened
By the invaders….
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao

copyright 2010 Jenne' R. Andrews
All Rights Reserved
No reprinting of part or all of this work
without express permission of the authoress....


Maureen said...

Lyrical, evocative, dream-like, operatic in the best sense of that word. Wonderful use of details, like the image of the mariner spearing/impaling the pesce spada and the swearing of Omerta; your use of words like gorse; the mix of the ordinary with the awful that comes across as routine (the ak47s packed in with the fish). And how you combine the ancient story with what is happening now. Superb, Jenne.

jen revved said...

thank you, Maureen... your thoughts mean so very much...xxxj

Nancy Hinchliff said...

This is a wonderful piece, Jenne. Rather than analyze it (I couldn't do any better or say more than Maureen already has), I will just say that the emotional impact brought tears to my eyes.

Eric Alder said...

Loads of great descriptives here, Jenne' - too many to pick just one as a favorite. Nice One Shot. (Or it it more of a LONG shot? A 'short' epic poem? Isn't that an oxymoron? LOL!)

Timoteo said...

So vivid...I felt immersed in the milieu.

Anonymous said...

Involved, in-depth - a piece that, truly, despite its advanced and involved length, drew me on. Wonderful, flowing piece, with a fine sense of detail, imagery, and word-play. In short: fine, fine work, Jenne. Thank you for sharing this with One Shot!

Shashi said...

Dear Jen

A great epic... Loved these lines...
'Yours is a keening for the losses
Of your youth
And that of the women
The plundering of dreams
The murder of sons'

Perfectly done.. thanks for sharing...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

jen revved said...

Thank you so very much to those of you who took the time to read this poem-- I realized belatedly that it was too much to ask of One Shot participants, really, with all of us needing to be there for as many other writers as possible. Thanks for going the distance-- it is very encouraging! xxxJenne'