Poems by Jennifer MacPherson

The Bone Poem
for Yvonne

waken me to midnight’s open silence
with their ghostly ache,
suggest that it’s time to bargain again
with god

not the God of meek and gentle heart
who rises – perfect – each Spring
but an older, arthritic god
who knows about bones,
notes the hour
when they begin to slowly grind each other,
when skin thins and they stand like
so many knobby sentinels.

This god counts poems
we have yet to write
like a rosary of bones clicking
through his gnarled fingers,
naming each one as it begins to split:
tibia, fibula, radius, ulna ….

Older than benevolence,
is this the god
who shatters stone in rage,
who makes seas swallow regiments,
whose own bones mutter when he leans to listen?

as featured in Blue Unicorn

Crows Are Fighting In The Trees Again

I am wakened by their shadows against
my bedroom wall. More crows than I can
count, they swivel from limb to limb.
Great swells of caws become quarreling squawks
as displaced birds jostle feather and wing,
displeased with whatever tree they circle,
whatever branch takes their black, unbroken weight.

They haunt walnuts and scrub oaks lining
our fence, take residence there
by the hundreds in squalling winter weather.
Even now they cluster thickly
on broken branches deformed
by a September derecho, the storm
that changed the city’s skyline forever.

When their wings scrawl curses across night’s sky,
houses will lose their north wall,
stars will wink out, one by one.
How long will the heavens burn?
How far does the tree line reach before
crows are only patches of black smoke
and branches are sturdy, unbroken by storm?

Night after night I watch spousal abuse, tribal
warfare, mating dance, each exacting detail
shadowed against my bedroom wall.
I must witness how the crows fight
for the ineluctable branch that will
answer all their hearts’ mad questions,
how they never find it.

As featured in The Café Review

That November Day

The morning that my mother died
I saw the moorings of her life
as child, woman, mother, wife
transformed. She slipped, undignified,
into a vessel on a bed,
that body wired, twitching, slicked
with sweat, her mind a derelict
adrift at sea, her glazed eyes dead.

Her eyelids moved. Those blank eyes stared
yet lacked all thought, all consciousness
of life. I felt them stab my eye
like knives that I should see her, pared
to barest bone, convulsing, less
than I could ever deify.


This is not a way I learned
to cry:
rotting sap the color
of envy.

This is not a way I learned
to heal:
filling with stunted leaves.

This is not a way I learned
to breathe:
branches bending in
my throat.

as featured in The Comstock Review

Some notes about the poet: Jennifer MacPherson is a founding editor of The Comstock Review. As of 9/07 we are pleased to announce the release of her new collection of poems, Rosary of Bones, by Cherry Grove Collections. It is available for order at through Cherry Grove and amazon.com (online) and Spring Church Book Co., PO Box 127, Spring Church, PA 15686, 1-800-496-1262.

Jenny’s work has been published widely in such journals as Poet Lore, The MacGuffin, Calyx, Pearl, The Connecticut Review, Louisiana Literature, South Carolina Review, and Primavera. She is the author of a 2002 chapbook, Stuck in Time from Pudding House, which also published her Greatest Hits (2001), A Nickel Tour of the Soul (FootHills, 2004), and In the Mixed Gender of the Sea (Spire, 2004) which won the Spire Press Poetry Book Award. A former school psychologist, she lives in Syracuse, NY with her ocicats Tango and Samba. In her spare time, she is a gourmet cook, amateur gardener, ballroom dancer, and obsessive reader of everything.