Jean Donnelly



villainous handkerchief
of coastline

& crabtraps buckled
with miles of lilies

& lost socks
in Delaware

Leslie turns the music up
how does one country

for invasion

or strap a border
with an angry smell

of the moment

stay to gender

& nourish
the air

with authorship
for the dead


Montana predicts
the height of chairs

& the sunflower genus
lodged in a gritty

window postcard
bottom filled creek

of usual farewells
merchants say

good-bye too their
burden of witness

is collaboration
an air of darning

houses kid engines
a metaphysical flag

it pulls & whittles
my starry pledge

outside the trees
are empty





most children enjoy the sound of their own voice
let's go look at something & talk about it

the Indiana skyline for example its brave
400 year old tree a tin of tobacco (we weren't

meant to move our bodies faster than they can
carry our souls so they arrive a bit later

which explains the sense of delay & growing
accustomed to foreign places) children are also

kind kindly for real reasons of kindliness which
throws us a bit when we expect them to share


how do I look beside madness
a bit lemony & all cluttered

to pledge is not a sound
to follow a flag a long pause

in the photograph Iowa's
industries in birth & death

choosing the perfect awning
to part in a mother's body

extends a civic frontier
a banner calling me to kneel


nothing magnificent

seagulls on the soccer field

woman shot in back of head
rabbit hutches trash compactors

giant pecan trees
all populate

the fondly local while

demands a face
a bewildered

aesthetic figure
loose at the landscape

Missouri's quick glow
of sorrow anything

mouthed or mentioned
with gentleness


that we have nothing bare
means we are restless

the mind is a fist in repose
a pebble slipped from a lemon

the next morning he appears
sad in blue pants in Massachusetts

he says the ancient future rags on him
not one thing makes me quicker but you


West Virginia I hear you
I can't stop hearing you

selecting fragments
of everything every

past the eloquent
senator the shape

of a boy's eyebrow
people who die

or live & rock
in the mystery

of separation
language the next

spiritual plane
in which the poem

rages because Ted &
Jack & Gertrude are

dancing in it with
friendly partners

& children of course
the children

Jean Donnelly studied poetry at the creative writing program at George Mason University, where she co-founded the journal So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language & Art. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, among them Big Allis, Fence, The Germ, Lingo, Situation, and Volt. A chapbook, the julia set, was published in 1995 by Edge Books. Her first full-length collection, Anthem, was selected by Charles Bernstein for the 2000 National Poetry Award Series and has just been published by Sun & Moon Press. She has co-curated the In Your Ear reading series at the District of Columbia Arts Center and has taught poetry at Georgetown University in the District of Columbia where she lives with her husband, Arthur Linde, and sons Alex, Jack, and Naish.

Published in Volume 3, Number 1, Winter 2002.