Mama Song

from Mama Song

…I watched my son’s birthmama labor the night, kept time
by the beat of his heart.  When she turned left-side-over in bed,
his heart slowed. The baseline dipped each time she moved.
My world lapsed, seconds lost in a thump.  My husband and I
huddled like cats; her mother slept fits in the recliner.
If God exists, he exists in the capacity to wait…

 

Jennifer Givhan

first published in Gloom Cupboard

 


A poem from Natashia Deón

This is a beautiful insight on postpartum depression. Take a look.

The Feminist Wire

My friend Natashia was a fellow Emerging Voice through PEN Center USA with me in 2010, and she is a beautiful writer,  mama, and, as if that wasn’t enough, she is also a practicing lawyer. Keep an eye on her… she’s gonna be huge!

Labyrinths, Mexicali Strip Joints & Sock Burning

Two of my short stories (novel excerpts) were published online this month and can be read here: “Pyre for Waiting: She May Have Been a Witch” in the Acentos Review and “Labyrinths in Smoke” in Up The Staircase Quarterly. These are both taken from my book In the Time of Jubilee, so here’s your first chance to meet Bianca in her past storyline, in which she is miserable in Mexicali and burning socks. You’ll have to read the book to find out what becomes of her in her present. (Though I can tell you, it’ll get weird…) Thanks for reading, and enjoy! And, please “like” me on Facebook 😉

Love,
Jenn

Dark Lady Poetry

My poems “You Don’t Want More Kids, You Claim,” and “The Eve of Destruction” have been published in Dark Lady Poetry online. I wrote the Eve poem as part of a longer poem many years ago in an undergrad creative writing class and have continued shaping it and polishing it all this time. Eventually, I decided to take out the other sections and let Eve’s voice come through all by herself, without the chatter of other (male) voices, like God’s, for example. Ha.  Finally, five or six years later, this poem was accepted for publication. Moral of the story? Revision works, and sometimes it takes years to get a poem right. Lesson learned. Of course, the other poem published here, I wrote one morning after a weird dream and have done little to reshape it since. You just never know.

Five poems published in The Acentos Review

I am honored to be published in this fine online journal! Check out my poems here: Acentos Review
Thanks for reading!
-Jenn

Blood Lotus Journal

My poem “Daughter, Lace Your Fingers to the Sky” which will be included in my full-length poetry collection Red Sun Mother, has been published and can be read here at Blood Lotus. Enjoy!

 

From “The Henna Poems” published in The Southwestern Review

1. Faithful Woman

La henna, tattooed in red clay—
his hand prints on my nalgas

while he eats chicharones with chile
and licks the lemon juice from his fingers.

I am his undesired bride of fast times, bringing
big pots of albondigas to feed his whole
family—love utterly unasked for, a belly
filled up with sticky red rice and embryonic fluid.

Desert nights! Hot, angry earth.

I dig into my wicked bag and find
ageless soil. Though my innards have festered
and my rinds have wrinkled—
nopales left to soak too long in salted water—

my mother-bag recreates itself
from somewhere underneath,

lower than my skirts,
brown and tattered, where women hold
the old ones and the babies,
where women squat to wash armpits
and backs of knees
with their own spit, if need be,
if they’ve no water, no luxury of soap:
mother is the invention of necessity.

At the edge of the valley,
sea salt and pungent sugar beets—
dunes of sand and towering thunder heads—

Here is the truth I know, the wanting that aches wildly.

What do I know of the ancients?

Father, your Jesus failed me—
could he fly, could he wail,
could he scrub the blood stained trail?

Newborn Fragments

Jeremiah’s first day at the beach

 

 

 

I want neither the sweetness of honey, nor the sting of bees

—Sappho

 

1

will not sleep through the night,

not even close

—exhausted.

never sleep again.
i am almost afraid
(sleep)
dozing off            and
i wake.

–sick stomach, i am
(ripped)
out of my dreams.

crying help. can’t speak
help—

sleep! sleep! where are you?
lost!

oh, i’m holding
you

2

Sleep a little longer love, and let my thoughts scurry
in and out of existence—I would fly with imagination

If only you would cease your crying for seconds,
moments at a time, I might reach the skyfall.

And yet, as you dream, your briefest smile—
appears, then disappears, as if it never occurred—

My mind matters less, love, less than my heart,
smiling with you, love.

3

I did not expect you to be so squirmy—
a jellyfish,

swish, swish

4

volatile, you expand and cram the room
with your unannounced trumpet blasts—
piercing the ceiling with spontaneous
syllabics that drown into bumbling vowels—
without warning, you erupt and
start the dogs howling at your distress.

We cannot move quickly enough to appease you—
we stumble into armchairs and corners
of tables, bruising our elbows, our thighs

5

Three in the morning
milky sedation
We hold you between us, drifting in and out of sleep

Every piece of love I hold,
here, in this bed, right now.

6

How I’ve learned to crave the smell of faintly
soured milk

—sweetly pungent in the folds of your neck.

7

I will never tire
of singing softly in your ear—

Will you never grow weary
of listening?

8

Guilt rattles my belly
like the bells on your cradle
ringing, ringing as I rock you—

I am clutched by fear,

nagging,
haggling,
mining me deep—

Am I doing this all wrong?

9

Sometimes
when you are sound asleep,
I put my face close to your chest
and listen for the steady rise and fall.

Sometimes, I tap your tiny toes
—just to make sure you will wiggle them.

10

I love the way we communicate—

in gazes and giggles

11
upon your first encounter with the ocean, you slept soundly in my arms.
the wind strung us tightly together.
when I first heard your triumphant cry, exhausted from your long journey
into light,

the space between us evaporated into sound—

mine, mine
you are mine—

and we rushed toward the open shore,
gathering hope
like water in buckets.

Published in Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine

Time and Moonshine

Spaces on this earth tattoo their soiled skins with prints,
our opened paws, brief feet, steps of years,
motions drawn upon immutable circles—

The moon as orange and fiery as the sun itself,
one night, parked on the canal side of a dirt road
behind stacks of sweet smelling hay,
the engine of your pine-green truck still warm,
breath leaving no room for wondering
how many more nights like these we might gather
before crop dusters wear us away:

Amor, speaking Spanish in my distance,
we choose to break the morning,
and the moon fades because we close our eyes.

My sweetest love, you have not gone for weariness—
you’ve just gone.

Published in Palabra

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