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 .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poem for One Stop Wednesday

Please also take a minute to read my feature on Fireblossom and my new post about the May Swenson Award at Loquaciously Yours.  Please also friend me on Facebook if you like! xxxj

Dancing with Winifred

Etta James sings At Last
And in the deeps of the night
I think of my aunt, Winifred
Who always said she needed no one
And ran a red light drunk

Jackknifed her best friend dead
Ended up in a body cast
Whereupon she threatened 
to hurl herself through plate glass
And said let me heal crooked

Cut loose, Freddy's dance was her own 
She drank hard, 
And wrapped her hair in a bun every day
Read the New Yorker
Greeted the liquor store kid
Leaning on her cane

Finally she collapsed from the weight
Of being herself.

She had said to me “I’ll always be here”
And she was.
Here new snow has come in
Like a cargo of swans, eyes
Scanning for open water
Behind black masks

I was a swan
But now I have a leg
A surgeon lied about
I drag through life like a log
His titanium plating failed
And it bent from the weight
I put on it myself

Now, look there, on my wall
At symmetrical
Isadora Duncan, her beautiful calves
The lines of her body, her long arms
Her hair whipping like a houri’s

The snow comes near
like Freddy's solicitous ghost
And I cannot go to it
And the leg sings to me 
from its black brace


Over my desk Isadora Duncan
Bends and leaps in a gilded frame
Olive background, olive peasant dress
And then the pale outline of her arms
The angle of their rejoicing

Striving to embrace the sky
Each pale leg strong with muscular calves
No toe-shoes, the bare feet
Like a Greek woman’s
Summoning goats from the hills
Ouzo crazy and alone
Exulting in herself

Saxaphone riffs
And Etta
On the stereo, Winifred
Slamming down margaritas,
Swatting flies in the kitchen

Defiance became her
Dancing like Isadora
On the rim, at Chaco
Casting ashes into the ruins without a word
After my cousin Ann died
On intravenous Ethanol

I went off,
To be myself
And I am
Although I have a leg
Like a wing
Wandering off in its own direction
About to give up the ghost

And Isadora and I
And Etta and Winifred
And Ann Ellen,
Find a way to dance
On the radiant sky
Of the dark night.


Posted for One Shot Wednesday, a poetry-posting blog carnival feature of One Stop Poetry; join in!

 copyright Jenne' R. Andrews 2011


L.L. Barkat said...

The complexity of relationships and images in this set makes me ache. (I am like that when I come face to face with things of beauty.)

So much to love here, but I'll just share one of my favorite lines...

"And said let me heal crooked"

Old Ollie said...

What a woman! What a poem...nice one shot JRA!

Corbie said...

An in depth magically written poem about relationships and pain that each has suffered. No greater pain than another yet equally great. A heartwrenching but truthful story that we can all see happening everday, if we would only look around. Thank you for sharing and hope to see you again for One Shot Wednesday! ~Corbie Sinclair

Brian Miller said...

delicious write...you capture your characters nicely making them real...

dustus said...

"Here new snow has come in
Like a cargo of swans"

Your poetry is always rich with imagery and emotion. There is a beautiful sadness conveyed throughout.

Anonymous said...

Jenne, you never disappoint. This is EXCEPTIONAL! As Dustus quoted "Here new snow has come in Like a cargo of swans"--that part took my breath away, I read it again and again. Stunning. What a complex, well-woven masterpiece! Cheers to you!
amy jo

hedgewitch said...

Searing and almost physically painful to read... the damage which these women bear as a common thread is almost a palpable weight. But I love the image of strength and grace you draw here with Isadora, and your language, as always, is a unique string of glittering gems.

Anonymous said...

Amen to the chorus of Amens. What a fine, gritty, true weave of history and the mystery of the heart, where dance is a fleeting, phantastical thing as we mortals stomp and grind and fall apart on the floor. Lord knows I thought booze made me dance. It only made me spin ... :) Great job, Brendan

Mama Zen said...

"Finally she collapsed from the weight
Of being herself."

That shook me all the way through.

Alegria Imperial said...

Your poems always stun me, leaving me speechless! This one, because I love ballet and have worked with ballerinas, drew out a mountain heap of memories about their pain yet the 'daemon' that pursued them to soar on their toe-wings. This poem should be a dance narrative and choreographed; it would make a great ballet. Thank you for this exquisite gem, Jen!

Steve Isaak said...

Jazzy, literary, natural, amazing work.

Shashi said...

Dear Jen
Dear Jenne
I liked your second part a lot and the lines were perfect...
'Find a way to dance
On the radiant sky
Of the dark night.'
I enjoyed it so much. thanks for sharing.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter @VerseEveryDay

Claudia said...

great write...but this line caught me most..Finally she collapsed from the weight
Of being herself... just wow!

Luke Prater said...

lovely piece, Jenne' - enjoyed it.

Cheers m'dear

Luke @ WordSalad