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The Poems of Dorine Jennette

ae_UrchinToFollowEditor’s note:  Dorine Jennette is the author of “Urchin to Follow” (The National Poetry Review Press, 2010). Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, the Journal, the Los Angeles Review, the New Orleans Review, Puerto del Sol and Verse Daily. She earned her master of fine arts degree at New Mexico State University and her doctorate degree at the University of Georgia. Jennette lives in Suisun City, Calif.


Ode to Doubt

Muscle of boa, you turn

smooth as cognac stilled

fifty years in the throat.

You muffle hard outlines

under your skirts,

offer a grey handkerchief

to each certainty.

Behind the civility of veils—

what manners! You understand

how vulgar clarity can be.

At your discretion,

the lampshade’s tassels.

Yours, the axe swung wide.

You own the dog afloat

on the ocean, the blurred print

on the dog’s sodden collar.

You shake the hand

that finds a cold canary,

burning lung that must inhale.

Smudge-mouthed last child

ae_DORINEleft in the parking lot.

Dead horse, middle fork,

gloved hands in hair.


Homecoming Weekend

The backyard hammock cradles mist

and falling leaves that settle into the swaying mesh.

Down the street, the frat boys are building a float,

all shout and hustle, and one last wasp

dies on the lawn, invites me


to step down barefoot. I’ll walk

to the vending machine on the corner, where,

for your quarters, you might be offered one or two

of anything—guaranteed to be cold and fizzy,

but rarely what you thought you’d get. Maybe God


is not so much a clock winder

as a vending machine, dispensing bounty

without regard for brand, deaf to requests.

It hums and gurgles to itself

in the darkness, choosing for us.


We Lie Down at Last

The best eyes come from Germany;

someone curses gently in that tongue

as he breathes fire into focus,

a glass facsimile of sight


for those devoted taxidermists

who value the distinction

between antelope and oryx,

who strive to preserve


a still version

of each creature’s variation on the vertical,

every aspiration to God’s altitude,

by angling the eyes just so.


Where does the antelope stare

when the hunter brings it down?

The hunter who longs

to become what’s solid in the liquid grass,


who kneels beside it

to measure fur’s fading pleasure

with a flat palm. The pleasure

travels somewhere


when the gaze blinks out,

as all joy journeys in dream.

Dusk, leaning over

the draw of your breath


as the day’s flutes lull to sleep,

like the men who kneel in the meadow,

I am waiting for some warning

of the knowledge stillness brings,


to feel the instant

between the shiver

of flesh under the hand

and the hush that follows,


to follow the long arc of the hush itself,

its blind, certain trajectory.

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