Poems by Jennifer Crain



Imagine our surprise when—
whiskey glasses in hand,
anticipating an evening growing groggy
under the spell of Jupiter grapes,
stringed lights shifting above us—
we smell instead
the stench of sulfur,
and a weird hint of ribs on the grill.

I joke: What is St. Francis cooking in there?

We bought the house for its garden,
imagined ourselves growing stiff and old inside
this furtive Eden, this lush, boxy body
with its aggressive honeysuckle,
ten-foot walls, old-world double gates.

We push those gates open now—curious still, not yet stupefied—
and see that right there, where we’d left God’s fool with his stone sparrow,
is a four-foot volcano, the oozing-lava kind,
making a mess of the creeping rosemary.

It burps up something thin and fragile as we watch:
a collarbone mixed into the hot, red-black muck.
A jawbone follows. A knuckle rides up over the rim
along with something that might be a metatarsal.

Was old Francis hiding in there? Did the priest bless him
when he came around last October, turn his innards into bona fide remains?

No matter. For all at once, a mash flows out, one that,
I can only assume, used to be his rough stone robe.

The garden has grown a horror-pimple, a statue-eating blender.

Will the birdbath be next? The sleeping dragon?
The jackrabbit behind the hosta?
Will it find the frog Buddha? The aging lions?
The turtles and the hidden fairies?

I wonder if this is the sort of oddity that will ripen or if it’s migratory.
If similar blemishes will sprout like molehills and chew
until every likeness is reduced to ropey black ripples,
every sprite and berry bush is buried by the slick.



You can
die of
a dry

heart easily
as anything

Die with
slapped on

your face
like clay.
When gravity

you may
still stand

like a

in peril.
Who knows?

You may
still be
able to

enter the
even though

is blocking
the sun.