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, March 10, 2011

A Poem for Thursday, Magpie and Carry On Tuesday Challenges....

Calabrian Garlic

In her window, a basket of garlic reaching
For the sun. She broke off one of its fat cloves
And took the knife to it, using
The flat of the blade to mash the clove open;
Then she peeled off the papery rind
And there it was, sending its quartered objections

Up into the air of the kitchen, disempowered
And redolent.
I sat back in the shadows with my love,
Her son Pepe; we sipped latte di mandorla
And watched Mama in her cooking dance

How she carefully took a beef knuckle
Out of butcher paper,
Put it in a boiling pot for stock, crushing
Fresh tomatoes for the sauce.  We kissed
And longing surged in us 
And my love's tongue was as tensile 
and searching
As the garlic’s green
Inquiring foot

And I dared not touch the tendrils
Of his desire then.
But later, spent and laughing after dinner
I kissed his garlicky mouth
And much later, we wept briny tears of rapture,
Rising to walk the edge of paradise,
The lolling Calabrian phosphor
On the Strait of Messina.

I saw something arc in the air
And he said it was the pesce spada, the swordfish
In rising-moon ardor.  I said
Within myself, with my poet’s heart,
Thinking of Homer’s stunned walk
In this very place, that is the mermaid-gorgon
Scylla herself, exulting
In the tide that forces garlic-stricken lovers
Into each other’s arms at all hours.

Soon I boarded a train away
From Momma, Papa
And the babies lolling in everyone’s arms
At dusk in the kitchen. 
Many years later, there is no trace of them,
Not even anything legible in a book of names,
As if I had conjured all of it 
From thin air, my indoctrination
Into a hard, polished love tinted
By flash in the pan anger,
Like the pink water-laved stones

One finds in the surf--– la famiglia’s
Work-weary and serene
Faces as we walked the garden. 
This is what I remember
Now, all of them cloistered 
In simplicity and resolve
Like the purposeful garlic bulb 
In the window basket--sublimely 
Sheathed in undaunted light.

Copyright Jenne' R. Andrews 2011


Doctor FTSE said...

This is a really enjoyable poem, catching a variety of moods without overdoing any of the effects. Good.

Dick said...

There is a long tradition of poems that merge the sensuality of food and sexuality. With its languorous Italian setting, this one works beautifully, creating a powerful sense of time and place. Superb.

Jinksy said...

This is what I remember
Now, all of them cloistered
In simplicity and resolve
Like the purposeful garlic bulb,
In the window basket

And so the memories will continue to flower...
Great Magpie.

Anonymous said...

Ah Scylla, scintilla of the entire ocean, leaping up through the taste of garlic on a lover's tongue, in the cooking rapture of the loins. Such a fine, measured, tasteful, earthy, sea-deep song. The Romans would place cuculattus -- fish-riding cupidon -- on gravestones, marking perhaps the passage of eros through a life and on into the void, sounding down like Scylla when she pierced the woven blue ... How wonderful ... Brendan

Lucy Westenra said...

This was an ambitious undertaking, but you pulled it off! Recreates the Mediterranean very evocatively.

Brian Miller said...

nice. love the wraparound to the garlic tying up nicely with a bow...tears of rapture, mmm...fine bit of story telling here jen

Semaphore said...

This is an exquisite poem, I can breathe the atmosphere, my fingers are sticky with scooping the garlic, so palpable and real.