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Sample Poems by Jennifer Burd


Your Dream Sleep
 
Even with no face to put to your name
I feel like I’m looking at something
I’m not supposed to. Filing the mail
is one of my new jobs here at the shelter,
and in your folder I’ve just placed
a queen-sized, glossy, padded envelope
on which a pajamaed couple is smiling,
lounging on the famous mattress
in the wake of a refreshing night’s sleep
that will send them off to a day’s
fulfilling work and bring them
 
home again to this – being
a radiant woman, happy in love,
a confident man, gentle and affectionate.
They make it look so easy, doing whatever
it takes to afford the evening’s delights
on that mattress of everything-you-ever-
wanted-in-your-life – and I’m looking
 
while adrift from a foot-weary day
in which you have not been back
to check your mail, the pale rectangle
bearing your name and this address float
like a tiny rowboat on the champagne-satin
sea of their bliss among the words
The Softest Most Comfortable Rest
You’ll Ever Know


Drift

    East Lansing, Michigan
 
I read what I wrote
about the chronically homeless
to an appreciative audience
that sat very still
in the free museum
 
and then I killed time
amid the skulls of elephants
stuffed antelopes and roadrunners
quilts of the Depression
digitized voices of great leaders
and waiting for evening
dragged my ragged jacket
and flyaway hair
through the afternoon drizzle
to EVERYbody’s bookstore
 
found myself
browsing in no time at all
through first-person accounts
of incognito border crossings
and Buddhism
in that order
 
gave all my change away
and sat under unblinking
fluorescents in the café next door
level with twin blades twirling
above someone knocking out
tunes on the old piano
 
the open door downstairs
on this unexpectedly
warm November day a frame
for the entire world
 
mostly hours and
vehicles swishing by
and the occasional neat
silhouette of someone
urging up the street with only
his hands in his pockets.



Into the Next
 
Sunlit water slides
through tree-shadows
draped across the river.
 
The water moves
yet can be held,
however briefly.
 
But the shadows, fixed
to the surface, shadows water
can’t wash away –
nothing in my hands.


Spring Shadows
 
From the foot of a young wild tree
afire in sunrise silhouette,
a dark creature emerges
and grows into a huge,
flat predator, waving
its antennae in the wind,
proclaiming the green lawn
its kingdom, now and then
devouring the flight
of joyous birds.