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poem /jennifer k. sweeney

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Poem for the Morning News

Sleep like a hush in the hay,

then wake and everything

is tender, not dear,

but senses exposed, alert

to the skins of everything else.

Today is my body

hiding in my car in the strip

mall parking lot, today

we’re not certain

all over again, adding more

coffee, more fear into the fear.

Sometimes I see a wild burro

hiding in the mesquite

of my mind.

When I need it to emerge

I move its shaggy ears a bit

to the left and there’s a calmness.

Is it real this feeling based on

my little theater? Is it real

that we must carry

the burdens of our monsters?

Most of the time what I need

for one day’s thank you I’m okay now

is that tremble of imagination

peeking out at the burro’s

wet eye and many tiny lights

blinking open in relief.

Keep opening, morning

after the next and the next

terrible thing I promise

they will keep coming.


Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of four poetry collections: Foxlogic, Fireweed (Backwaters Press/Univ. of Nebraska), Little Spells (New Issues Press), How to Live on Bread and Music, which received the James Laughlin Award, the Perugia Press Prize and a nomination for the Poets’ Prize, and Salt Memory. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, her poems have appeared widely in journals, including American Poetry Review, The Awl, Terrain, Tupelo Quarterly, and Sixth Finch.


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