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 .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Poem: Allowing Her

Allowing Her

She leads me back, down the path beside
The adobe, where the hollyhocks
Drink the sun
To the yard next door, the neighbor’s lilacs

And crawls under the bush, near
The neighbor’s house
And within the neighbor-mother
Is singing
The mother in a red bandana raising
teacup puppies, who never gets angry.

The girl longs to play with the puppies
but guards her secret cache of snails
Grouping them into a family.
Near the mother-neighbor who is safe
She thinks of nothing else.


On another day she transforms herself
Into a sheriff with a badge and
Cowgirl hat and goes out on the trail
On her stick horse, past the graves
Of her run-over dogs

To the ditch bank, the comforting
Green water.
She calls herself the Rios Rider
The Rider of the Rivers
She has power, she is someone
Entirely different
Than who she is when she is the
She is not a girl at all.


I do not want to believe the story
She told me one night
About our father. 

I do not want to have this broken child
Within who can’t feel safe
In the world
Who has driven everyone away

I do not want to be the grown
Child who has fortressed herself
Into the winter of her life

Who now believes that no one
Is trustworthy
Whose dog sighs in boredom
From the crate

Just like a child the dog sighs
Looking out forlornly
The ball between her paws.


The day wears on.
The air thins and cools
A front is moving in
That will make it difficult
To walk tomorrow

In the aluminum walker
The short bad leg in a brace
The powdering spine
In its corset.

But I need to know
What happened—that he
Kissing me that way
Did something.
What did it do

To have a father kiss
His daughter
His tongue down her throat.


I had invited her confidence
Using a little broken doll
From the Salvation Army
When she told me the memory
Of an afternoon

Alone with him in
the Ponderosa pine stands
where the dwarf mistletoe
his specialty
was bursting forth its seed
tree to tree

When I thought perhaps
It was her little voice
From long ago, deep within
Breaking its silence to tell
Me about his hands
And weeping need

I took her outside
And offered her to
The heavens.


She lives on within me
Looking out of me with my eyes
She wants me to stop now
Throw the ball for the dog,
Cheer up.
Cheer us up now
She says, behind the chipped harp
Of my ribcage.

She remembers
And so I remember
The long and dark days
In the adobe living room
Where no light came
In the next room an angry
Drinking mother

In the night,
Out on the desert
A lonely father
Who taught her
That men are to be assuaged
Held, taken within

That it was a little girl’s job
To play house
By playing wife.


The dark child
The small dark child and I
Live together with our dog
In a place where we have hung
bright paintings
Where we play a choir singing
Because it is beautiful

And we want to paint the world
In beauty
We want to sing but we cannot.
We don’t want to be ashamed
To live in a house of shame and exile:

We are ready now for the storm
The wide wings of the snow
To carry away the memory of
the wet mouth
and its dark man.

A few thoughts...

It is quite difficult for me to post this poem.  Like many childhood abuse survivors, there is the matter of shame around the circumstances I describe,  as if I somehow brought them upon myself, that someone to whom such things happen must surely be defective in some way.  

And there is the matter of not wanting to alienate the readers I am so grateful for, whose encouragement has meant the world-- that such a poem is too shocking, too impolitic, too risky in a host of ways.  Then I knew I had to, if I were to be true to my mission to continue to "allow her", the inner girl,  a voice and to break through the shame-infused fear that in turn puts a huge stop sign in front of self-disclosure. 'Tis the season here, it seems, of disclosures of all kinds of things; perhaps subconsciously I was given the courage to write this by the various psychodramas playing out in the national news..  

I have written a host of "post-confessional" poems trying to set down the truth, the heart of the matter, sometimes constrained by my lyrical impulses to pretty up that which should be rendered with simplicity, dignity, nearly as a statement; to me the best confessional work is the least adorned and makes no apologies either for its declarations or imperfections. 


copyright Jenne' R. Andrews 2011


Zoe said...

Jen, I am speechless. Dear friend, for I consider you to be just that, the courage it takes to give your child the voice she deserves is enormous. Daughter-wife spoke ice into my soul. You capture the dissociation perfectly, the shattering of the soul, yet throughout, you offer hope and cleansing. I have read many poems that speak on this subject, but in total honesty, never have I read one that touched me so deeply, never have I read one so masterfully crafted and yet so honest. THANK YOU for letting her speak so eloquently, for not shrinking from those painful memories. Give that precious girl a hug from me. Zoexxxx

Maureen said...

That it is "least adorned" gives the poem its power, impels one to read, but not as voyeur or with pity; rather, with admiration for the courage to write with honesty about those life experiences that make us who we are. It cannot be easy to carry within such knowledge, or to carry it in secret. The latter holds its own dangers, just as making the secret known does. To take away the power of the secret by exposing it allows space where healing and finding the self begin.

Victoria said...

Jenne, my heart is racing as I read this. There is so much to comment on: the feeling of shame and blame, the dissociation that allows the child to separate from you, your symbolic incorporation of the dog images. I am so glad and grateful that you shared this because as secrets are opened to the light, it gives others the permission to do the same. The courage it takes to survive, and then share such horror commands my respect. I need to read it again, if only to better understand those I love who have experienced such abuse, let alone for the power of your expression.

Mystic_Mom said...

Hugs for you, and for her. Sister survivor we made it through, it is not our shame but theirs. Thank you for your words Jenne, and your courage. Brava my sister. Brava.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jen, thank you for breaking the silence of childhood sexual abuse and for releasing the voice of your own inner child. In doing so, healing can take place within her heart and yours. In speaking about our childhood sexual abuse, we give ours the courage and support to speak out also.

jen revved said...

I never expected any comment, much less such supportive and loving ones, validating not only the catch I have in my breath today but again my work as a fellow poet.

Thank you, with much love and returned admiration. xxxJenne'

Sheila Moore said...

I think when we do what we need to do to heal, nothing else matters. I hope in some small way this is but a stepping stone for you (and others who read it)across the river of recovery.