July 5, 2021

“Meeting in the Middle” — Poetry by Alison Jennings

“Meeting in the Middle” — Poetry by Alison Jennings
Meeting in the Middle, Lebanon, KS  

 The center of these United States 
 lies in this heartland space, 
 where love does battle with our hates, 
 where politicians court their base; 
 yet there should be some room for peace: 
 our modern civil war must cease. 

 Lies in this heartland space 
 proliferate, become more lies. 
 It’s something that we need to face 
 or else this fragile union dies. 
 How can we mend the social quilt? 
 Can democracy be rebuilt, 

 where love does battle with our hates? 
 Let’s hope it has the upper hand. 
 The intervention of the Fates 
 may be required for us to stand 
 on principles, but not take sides, 
 to have a chance to heal divides.
 Where politicians court their base, 
 there’s no chance for compromise. 
 “Dog whistles” emphasizing race – 
 or victimizing Anglo guys – 
 only lead to confrontation 
 and a blot upon the nation.
 Yet there should be some room for peace, 
 so here in Lebanon, let’s make 
 an effort to be like wild geese, 
 who understand the human ache 
 of loneliness, announcing in their song: 
 You are a family, you all belong.
 Our modern civil war must cease; 
 we must find some common ground. 
 We need more love, not more police; 
 not screaming, but a softer sound: 
 the sound of heartbeats, what we share – 
 come, meet in the middle, everywhere. 

 Getting Back Good 

 I shall forget you presently, my dear, 
 although your presence may still leave a trace. 
 Tossing your presents, I now need to clear 
 all clutter, to present a fresh new face
 to the world, where presently I will go 
 without you, but my presence makes a splash! 
 Announcing presentation of my show, 
 I’ve promised awesome presents at this bash.
 I’ll have to present such a startling act, 
 my ex’s non-presence just won’t matter, 
 so presently there’ll be the Big Distract: 
 presents, open bar, and idle chatter.
 All eyes will presently be glued on me, 
 while your presence fades into memory.

 (a sonnenizio on a line from Millay) 

 Figure, Birds: Miró Exhibit at SAM 

 Form is always a token of something. (Miró) 

 I see tiny dots of paint, 
 like kindergarteners, willy-nilly;  
 long black curves,  
 striding across the screen:   
 enigmatic shapes, haphazardly 
 dividing swaths of color 
 into separate spaces;  
 a farmer
 tilling his field in crooked,  
 calligraphic fashion.
 Is this just random visual noise?
 Or can Miró’s intense,  
 quasi-geometric clarity 
 become a homage 
 to Spanish mystical still life?
 The blue arch is the moon;  
 a red blotch,  
 blood from wounded women?
 Surrealism says 
 to celebrate the strange,  
 let things be anything you want;  
 ignore artistic experts:   
 go deep, keep what disturbs you,  
 get past your conscious mind.
 So are these heads,  
 anchored to the ground,  
 that slither upward into an arch –  
 a token of our universal wish to fly?
 The figures might be dancing monsters,  
 worshipping the moon.   

 Which is correct? Does it really matter? 

 Ferns (A Nature Poem) 

 Ferns in the fleeting forest light, 
 back-lit, the perfect nature sight. 
 What waves say, is always true: 
 out with the old, in with the new.
 Low at sunset the heron flew, 
 neck outstretched as if it knew 
 to chase the dying of the light 
 into a harbor safe from night.
 I’ve never seen an angel’s wink, 
 yet here I felt their glances. 
 They don’t exist, so many think, 
 but I will take my chances. 

 Family Tree (The Search)  
 It’s the opposite of pruning, 
 the shearing off of branches.
 Instead, it’s grafting, 
 with genealogy and guesswork, 
 the careful reattachment 
 of severed limbs to the family tree, 
 revealing a cellular inheritance 
 from forgotten forebears.
 And it’s not engendering a different plant, 
 like in a nursery, but restoring connective 
 tissue of a bloodline, unblocking paths 
 to memories and secret stories.
 Like tributaries of a common river, 
 our predecessors’ traits come coursing down 
 a corridor of DNA, in chained-together logs 
 of nucleotides, carrying vital nutrients 
 from the ancestral fount.
 Your job is tracing back to the farthest 
 headwaters of your lineage.
 Yet sometimes only scant clues are apparent – 
 birth and marriage and death – blunt markers 
 of time, as recorded long ago in churches 
 and town halls, noted by parsons, registrars 
 and clerks, tax collectors, and undertakers.
 Or else, there are conflagrations, 
 plagues, pogroms, wrenching uprootings 
 from ancient homelands, 
 as stricken immigrants abandon them 
 to violence, financial ruin, starvation, 
 or a better life elsewhere.
 So you’ll look for the missing parts, 
 cross-fertilize with other genetic gardeners, 
 whose mended stems briefly intertwine 
 with yours, forming an intricate framework 
 like a mighty oak,
 guiding you on your journey to the past. 


Meeting in the Middle

Alison Jennings is a Seattle-based poet who began submitting her work after retiring from public school teaching and the business world.  She has recently been published in over a dozen journals, online and in print.   

Please visit her website for details of her published poems. 

Meeting in the Middle
#alison jennings#miró#poetry#politics
  • Stephen Brayton says:

    Hooray for ryhme-rs! In the tradition of Edna St. Vincent-Millay. Thank you.
    Steve Brayton

    • Yes, although the bulk of my poetry is unrhymed, I do love the discipline and sound of rhyming poetry, the more complex the scheme, the better! Thanks for your comment; it made my day. Alison

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