Stranger, I cross your room
Daughter, you cross my room
looking you over as I go
overlooking me as you go--
to the window overlooking mulberries.
the window, at least, sees
Your will specifies ashes.
how my will has beat this thing to ashes.
I am never who you think I am.
I am not, you think. I am.
I wonder when I will have to arrange
So make other arrangements
chairs in the shape of a sonnet,
for this chair that shapes me like a sonnet.
hire a rabbi. It won’t be long.
Hire a band. It won’t be long.
The rhymes you sang to me as a child
The rhymes I sang to you as a child
I can only hum now, wordless.
I can still sing. Listen.
Previously published in River Styx and American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016).
Jen Karetnick is the author of seven poetry collections, including American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016)--which was a long-list finalist for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press--and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016). She received an MFA in poetry from University of California, Irvine and an MFA in fiction from University of Miami. Her poetry, prose, playwriting and interviews have appeared recently or are forthcoming in TheAtlantic.com, The Evansville Review, Foreword Reviews, Guernica, The McNeese Review, Negative Capability, One, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Prime Number Review, Spillway, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Waxwing and Verse Daily. She is co-director for the reading series, SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami).
The winner of the 2017 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Prize, the 2016 Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize and the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, Jen has previously won the Portlandia Poetry Chapbook Prize, two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Awards and the “Piccolo in Your Pocket” Contest from the Alaska Flute Studies Center. In 2016, her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two "Best of the Net" awards, and featured at The Fourth River, JMWW, Yellow Chair Review, Red Bird Chapbooks and "Literary Death Match." She is currently writing a full-length spoken word play, set in Everglades National Park, with the help of an AIRIE residency. She is also working on her 16th book, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami (Luster, September 2017).
Jen works as the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School, teaching grades 6-12, and as a freelance writer, dining critic and cookbook author. She lives in Miami Shores on the remaining acre of a historic mango plantation with her husband, two teenagers, three dogs, three cats and fourteen mango trees.