you are in the diode archives winter 2010



Self-Portrait as the Golden Head at Jardin de Luxembourg

The corrupt incorrigible with heavy bags swing,
prone to kisses from boys in black shirts
and horn-rimmed glasses, through the garden,

some in packs, some alone with their tobacco,
dying for another glass of wine or day’s first,
while bodiless Head stares golden from its shackle

above a rut of dirt. Minus torso, heart’s tender
lacks a hiding place, so moves beyond the usual
clenched fist or apple core—what we remember

the heart to be—and spills in every direction,
as shadows spill across a gazing pool and rising
immaculate Head watches lidless, affection

for its lack darkening path that leads
down rows and rows of trunkless trees.


Femme y es-tu?

From heaps of ash we rise and twist.
It’s the burn that makes us
less stable at the core, more split-level,
cowled round the neck by winter, or the door
flung closed in despair (of seasons): a wreath,
living room’s creosote-soaked floor.
Wood cured of native sickness will endure.

Solemnity is a room when afternoon
passes without and within: night’s film
coating a crystal chandelier, presto
swinging open onto cutaways of wing-
backed chair, highboy, fire burning through
the body’s primed and seasoned tinder.
Wood cured of native sickness goes cinder.

Convalesce on a carved chaise just to stand.
Converse with nothing but the room we’re in.
Part perfumed air like a curtain. We begin
the walk from bridge to bar to bed stand, then
collapse into weeping cups, a circle stain
on best white linen. Oh where have we been?
Wood cured of native sickness will rescind.

The fire scores its scores of reams, throws
light on ceiling beams hewn from trees
in their rings wed to an older form
of functioning. Grow up. Grow up. We
shudder at the thought, rise and twist, tiny
slip caught in flame’s orange end. Wood
cured of native sickness will transcend.  


Lesley Jenike’s poems have appeared or will appear in Verse, Crab Orchard Review, POOL, Blackbird, Court Green, Sou’Wester, Gulf Coast, 32 Poems, The Journal, and others. Her first book of poems, Ghost of Fashion, was published in May 2009 by the CustomWords imprint of WordTech Communications. She teaches creative writing and literature at the Columbus College of Art and Design.