Jen Currin

Jen Currin
3 Poems


Night Train

To drink more coffee, snort
more gingko, to be able
to think
a hard-won thought,
humorless as this
diminishing blue hour,
lustrous as the gold drill
affixed to the giant machine
boring deep into the gravel
across the street
to plant pilings in the marshy soil.

Overhead a solid steel bank
of cloud, monolithic
as an alien mothership
parked over the river
sending down or blocking
beams of–
Light? Energy? Feeling?

I do not want to look at your face,
dust on the back of a book jacket,
author to fix or finish.
Everything has a language,
she said. If only you’d stop
talking long enough to listen.

Blue–poets like the word
& the color
even a shell to hold
in front of the eyes
like a magnifying glass.
But to intentionally misunderstand
a prayer–yet who could ever
understand a prayer?

Vestibule–we’re waiting
& the night train hurries
us toward our destination.
Steep mountains & a cold
cup of red tea.
Down the corridor
someone has already set our places
at the small round table.
I take up my book,
the lamps flicker on.
With a little brilliance–or you might call it patience–
these maps might be readjusted.
You smile at me sleepily.
We’re just about to arrive.

The Woods

She told me she was going
into the woods
to find the divine feminine.
“I will be holding onto her skirts
even if I’m dragged
through the mud,” she wrote
on a postcard bearing a picture
of a Northern Flicker.

She instructed young people
on how to be self-sufficient.
“That’s a black bear. Back away.”
“That cave of throbbing
light is what we came for–
but don’t go inside
just yet.”

The coral lipstick she wore
on our second date
stained my white shirt.
We met–like so many–
online. I was surprised
by her agile fingers. After awhile
we lost touch: I stewed
in loneliness, she fell in love
with her straight roommate,
writing her voluminous love notes
swaddled in pink envelopes
which she slid under her door.
That was the year I finished college
just as the great experimental composer
died, and although I wasn’t invited
I wondered what cake, what prayer
at their wedding.

Haiku To the End of Capitalism

promissory note–
red bird on many-leaved branch
couldn’t give a shit

is utopian
information–this cold stone
held in my pocket

little as we are
willing to give–rain falls hard
summer’s death; dry ground

see all as product
or relationship–grasses
bend, share a secret

marriage–that contract–
expired–out of use–but
a friendship lives on

beyond money–park
free for now–crow croaks–ego
rips like dollar bill

Jen Currin has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Inquisition Yours (Coach House, 2010), which won the 2011 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry and was a finalist for three awards, and School (Coach House, 2014), which was also a finalist for three awards. Hider/Seeker, her first collection of stories, was published by Anvil Press in 2018 and named a Globe and Mail Best Book. Her poems and stories have been published in many magazines, anthologies, and journals, including VERSE, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Cream City Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Missisippi Review, PRISM International, and Washington Square.