“Anne, I Understand” // by Jennifer Patino
for Anne Sexton
It’s one of those things. We all go through them.
Our little sufferings. We all have our own
How many children did you bring? Up-swing.
How was your upbringing? Womanhood
is synonymous with duty.
Oh, I absolutely wanted you here. You complete
the room. Wear green. Blue. No black. No doom
or gloom. And where’s your other better half? Your groom?
They asked me these questions in a different time. They
asked me them on a different day. You changed it all for us.
You showed us suppressed females another way.
You made us see right through them. Their transparency.
You wouldn’t let them hide. You ripped rubber gloves off.
Dug right in. Your voice etched onto vinyl records is now therapy.
Thank you. For the attitude. Thank you. For acknowledgment
of every shade of moon and mood. Thank you for peach lipstick,
and jealousy, and pyrotechnic poems, and accusing eyes.
I imagine it was hard at the end. Harder still in the moments
you were sure it was the end and it wasn’t. You kept pounding along
on a typewriter, on a wooden door, dry skin cracking in winter, bloody knuckled.
I can imagine a smoke filled room with you. You are the smoke. You
blend into the wallpaper because our host says it’s vintage. You make
jokes and I’m your ventriloquist’s dummy speaking in your voice.
I have no choice. You felt that too. You over explained yourself. The worst
and best and gross and beautiful parts of yourself. Your books line the shelf
in the hospital, where I’m surprised you’re not banned. “Anne, I understand.”
Useless // by Jennifer Patino
There’s a lot I know I’ll never have the heart to say. That phrase doesn’t make much sense to me. “I don’t have the heart…” It’s always said before something terrible. If one indeed had a heart, wouldn’t they feel no need to commit such deeds,
that would warrant a hard heart, a lack there of,
some terrible need?
There’s a lot I let lie there, be it as it may. I let some things rot. Reek of decay. Eventually dust, bones, a stain. There’s a lot you can cover up if you finish before it rains. The Earth sees all secrets.
Will you search blindly, through every pile of fresh
new dirt, with an edge that finally doesn’t hurt?
There’s a lot that can grow from the infertile. Anger. Loss of what you never had in the first place. Silly little girl, there’s stones inside your sacred space. Wipe the hope from your face. It’s in–
–the way we go about this is pretend we don’t want it
in the first place,–
my way. A quiet day. A lot can die in a short time with
No legacies. No grace.
No little socks with lace.
There’s a lot I know I won’t let my own mouth say. It makes perfect sense to me. “I have some bad parts…” I know I have a heart because it struggles against feeling useless. Useless longings. Useless woman. It’s useless to repeat the things that shred me. I’m already torn apart.
It Washes Away // by Jennifer Patino
What would we talk of, if we were
of what we say
to our faces
in the ceiling
formed by rain spots
from our leaking roof?
How damp is this room?
Underground, like the
basements up north, cold
catacombs, no windows,
or low windows,
in the shoes of passerby
Will we see through
the hole to the sky
through different eyes?
The one that forms
over the passing of
that non existent
cage called time
What would we hear
in the silence that
comes after the dawn
of the new year?
The rain?: a foreign sound,
drying up before it hits
the ground, way down here
Umbilical // by Jennifer Patino
Refrain from slurred speech,
its wispy timbre is upsetting
While you’re aiding and abetting
all that makes me nauseous
Sitting in the corner, a silent stone
of a mother, a slab of skin and bone
I wanted to be fine in the silence,
walking in the darkness of truth alone
But a longing tugs at heart strings,
music buried in my marrow, out of my control
An uprising in my bloodstream,
begging to retrieve everything you stole
So I run far away, following the wind to the west
with the end of your last fraying seam
clutched in my childlike fingers
Shock // by Jennifer Patino
“Will you plug this in for me?”
An electric hum muffles your reply,
a distracting symphony.
What of madness and
feminine energy? Your labels
and judgments have over-
A spark of synchronicity,
lightning in a heart-shaped
bottle, empty. Shattered
tossed into tourmaline infinity.
The stars shine for me.
I notice them when they fall,
when they’re escaping, when
They say their way is a cure
for me. I turn a blind eye
and then I finally see
there is no such thing as
finality, when things
change, in a flash, so
I’m powered on
under a fog, discreetly.
In one flick of a switch,
I’ll be transformed completely.
Mix It Up // by Jennifer Patino
he said something about
mixing alcohol and antibiotics
and how it might not be a good idea,
so she counts pills
like counting how many ways
she can fuck her day up
there’s enough sweetness there
to put you into a diabetic coma
and a sea of glass and hard liquor surrounds you
as you drown
life is hard,
so death must be easy, right?
think about it:
you close your eyes and then open them again
“how bad can it be?“
the stores close way too early
and everyone’s asleep
how lonely it is out on that limb
of knowing way too much,
yet knowing nothing at all
she says “forget it“,
and has another drink
she smiles thinking,
“give me something to live for“
– October 28, 2007
Note: I said I would share some old work I was going through so here’s a little poem. I remember I wrote this while I was recovering from a kidney infection, interlaced with snippets of scenes & conversation from a party. I find I like the writing of my twenties best when it doesn’t rhyme (I seriously rhymed waaaay too much back in the day, and pretty badly I feel), & the weirder the poem, the better. I didn’t have nearly as many insecurities as I do now about writing or anything really. Which is probably strange because as you get older you’re probably supposed to care less about what other people think about you, right? Hmm. Circumstances. Anyway, hope you enjoy a glimpse of my memory lane.
Photo by Me
Fuel // by Jennifer Patino
of knowledge up
I will it
to inspire me
& I give in
to ink tangents
and the fire
out of messes
of divine love
is the truth
of what we
I do this
to stay alive
& enjoy the lessons
It’s all I know
about how to survive