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 .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Poem: Ava, Diving -- for DVerse Poets Pub and Beyond....

Ava, Diving

Even as the oaks lining the street
set their jade kimonos on fire,
the old woman in grey shorts and t-shirt
slumped suddenly at the nurse’s station,
her head to her chest;

we wheeled her back to her room,
where others dreamed, aluminum frames
tenting the sheets above their parchment legs.

We tucked her in and set her John Denver CD
to replay; at first her cheeks flushed
and she spoke a muted sibilance--
her hands mimed swan-flight,
a private dialect of folding towels.

Across the hours the cards slapped down,
ace of time in spades, queen of aching hearts;
with self-consoling moans she dove down
into the white sea of the bed,
mermaid with pale hair streaming back.

I felt one tail fluke and saw she was burning up,
called the nurse; a mothering gull dropped 
liquid morphine down her throat;
She labored on, bearing down
to push the dark, slick whale calf out;
we came and went like wraiths in a squall,
changing the wet sheets,
swabbing out her mouth.

I kept a vigil far into the night
while she traveled to the pier she saw
in sun-lanced haze,
where dark-haired women waited
with scuffed valises to embark

in split cocoons of boats
made of silk and light,
to the shore of a pulsing Orient
of still skyscrapers and stopped traffic
waiting for the black butterflies
of last breath.

I sang to her and know not what she heard,
and pulled myself away,
lying down in my metal bed, my sentinel’s ear
cocked, touching that thin and peeling membrane 
between our rooms
keeping back the midnight sea.


copyright Jenne' R. Andrews 2012


Brian Miller said...

really fascinating imagery....really love the diving down..mermaid, birthing of the calf...the singing to her at the end though not knowing what she hears....there is a magic to this jenne...

Mary said...

This definitely is a poem about a particular time of life...the keeping the vigil, the waiting for the black butterflies of last breath...singing but not knowing what she heard. Not an easy poem to read, but a heart-felt one! Whew.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful poem. The black butterflies of last breath - the swallow with the morphine (that is just fabulous - and the double meaning too), the birthing of calf, the parchment legs, the very mundane John Denver CD, all just terrific, very sad, but spot on for this and terrific. k.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Man! That's some heavy stuff, Jen! Stopped me in my tracks a couple of times; made me study the lines some. Great write!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is an absolutely spectacular piece of writing. You drew me right into the scene, and I have been there, more than a few times, as someone made that final voyage. Fabulously written, and deep, and moving. And so real. Wow.

Victoria said...

Jen, I'm stunned at the finesse with which you've described this scene, so familiar to me as a nurse working primarily with the elderly and death and dying. Your sensory details are so on target. I'm at a loss for the right adjective to choose for my response.

kkkkaty said...

Beautifully written...I like 'her hands mimed swan flight'...;)

kkkkaty said...

....singing to her and we don't know what they hear...touching and just lovely... especially the river

Maureen said...

From the first stanza, you create a scene vivid and all-too-real. The opening line in the concluding stanza "I sang to her" gives this a deeply human touch, especially when we come to the breath-catching poignancy of "between our rooms". Marvelous imagery as always and lyricism at a level few others achieve.

Kim Nelson said...

With images of the exotic you illustrate the mundane, the thing each of us is destined to do. And then you make us realize how precious it all is. So effective. More important, though, so beautiful.

Sabio Lantz said...

Hmm, I can't really tell what this is speaking of, and reading the comments to-date does not help. But like others, I love the imagery.

As a health-care provider, I recognize much of this but I am not sure this is a good by or long term care or both. I would have enjoyed being a bit more clear, but what I did enjoy was fantastic.

jen revved said...

@sabio-- perhaps reading more attentively would assist you in comprehending a poem that turns on the image-- a number of them.

Thanks to all for your wonderful and encouraging comments! xxxj

Fred Rutherford said...

splendid use of objects and imagery, lush in their impact and illustration, some really creatively penned lines as well, the entire fourth stanza brought a smile on my face where none was there all day. Love this piece. Great write. Thanks

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Jen
Yeah, maybe if I had a better mind and was more careful I would get much more abstract, modern poetry. It is hard for me.

On my site you said I should consider reading a "reputable" book on modern poetry. Any suggestions? It can't just be an anthology of modern poems, but one which guides me through some.

jen revved said...

Sabio-- as most people find my work accessible, not abstract but not dealing in hidden meanings I wonder if your issue is with imagery. To me the best poetry is rich with it-- this poem is about an old woman dying, the process, the intensity of the experience. here's a simple example of an image; the veins of dusk-- meant to show dusk in a new way, the veins standing in for the outline of the trees. The mission of any writer is to make something new, give the reader a new way of looking at something that brings the experience into relief and intensifies it. Perhaps you are trying too hard to read in to modern/contemporary poetry, as you seem quite intelligent and scholarly on your blog. xj

Mary said...

I am reading this one more time for dVerse, and I appreciate this poem even moreso. It packs an emotional impact, and as it unfolds the sadness is palpable. I feel as if I am rght there in the experience with you. You gave dying a face....gave us a glimpse of something we may not want to look at closely, but are compelled to.

jen revved said...

Thanks, Brian! xj

flaubert said...

Well, Jenne, This is some of the most intense imagery I have read in some time, truly beautiful writing. I am for one a great lover of good imagery and you never disappoint.