Always Loquacious, Always Interesting…

Welcome! Please scroll down for latest post. This blog has been a work in progress since early 2010. Nearly 30,000 overall views and counting. Here is a wonderful compliment from a friend and blog follower: “Your creative gifts, your activism, and your sharp intellect make this world a better, more transparent, more honest, beautiful place.”  You can read all about me  here. Contact me at jenneandrews2010@gmail.com, and I am on Facebook at Jenne R Andrews. Scroll down for current post.

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Please do not share any of the poetry and nonfiction on this blog in whole or in part without crediting Jenne’ R. Andrews as author and linking back to this blog–you can also share a post on Facebook or follow the blog via widgets on the right sidebar–thanks. I am especially happy to announce my first collection of poetry in some thirty years, an expanded chapbook from Finishing Line Press, Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love; the work in this collection is recent and has received many kudos from the toughest audience of all– my fellow poets. I am proud to say that endorsements from Jim Moore, collected and new poems Underground due out soon from Graywolf; Dawn Potter , Same Old Story, CavanKerry Press and Patricia Kirkpatrick, winner of the 2013 Minnesota Book Award for Odessa from Milkweed Editions,  grace the back cover, with cover art by John Sokol.

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Please check out my creative work freely offered to the literate public on line at La Parola Vivace,  A Tu Placer (literary erotica) and my highly praised memoir Nightfall in Verona– all twenty-two chapters.  See page links. Check back here for book reviews and political notes. Note: archives at bottom of page.

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Summer’s Bittersweet Leavetaking

In praise of the sweet spate that was summer, and compound names for things.

This summer, I had a personal Everest to assail. I may have mentioned this in a previous post; for the past five years I have undergone the breaking down and decay of my teeth. A medication I’ve been on since the nursing home is the culprit.  Every time I thought about going in to the local low/no income clinic, I froze, and piled on the poems to be written, the dolls to be crafted…love to be made, wherein I kept the terrible secrets in my mouth to myself, no mean feat.  But finally I took myself by the nape of the neck and managed to get to the clinic.

It was as I had feared;  all of my upper teeth were in ruin and had to come out.  Thankfully, the staff graciously granted my requests– that I be able to bring a nonalcoholic beer with me to settle my stomach; that the room be darkened, as florescent lighting does me in, that I be able to bring a doll or a bear to hold…ultimately these accommodations were all made for me and I am happy to tell you that I have undergone the extraction of fifteen teeth and the filling of a few others.  Next comes intensive cleaning and something to do with my gum-lines receding, and then four or five sessions in which I am fit for dentures.

Nearly all of this has been free thanks to Colorado Medicaid.  It has been pure bliss to be rid of this festering and depressing situation, but most of all, utterly enlightening:  I am far stronger than I thought I was.  I didn’t fall apart; nor did I bolt out the door with a half-extracted molar hanging by a thread.

I am emboldened now to think of having both knees replaced.  I have plenty of Medicare and Medicaid for that undertaking, thank goodness.

Around the extractions, the beautiful green warm days came and are now on the wane.  We had lovely talks on the deck and for the first time in recent memory, very few insects/wasps/crickets and so on in the house.

Also across the summer and never far from my mind: that I was a finalist for the 2014 Autumn House Poetry Prize.  I was one of twenty finalists chosen from five hundred entries.  Alas, I was not chosen by Alicia Ostriker; Ellery Akers received the prize. I am thankful that someone also in her sixties is the winner.

I was also invited, by one of Sicily’s top poets, Rita Elia, to participate in a contest.  I worked on translations of two poems to enter and finally decided I should let more time pass and continue to revive my Italian before entering any of the numerous  publication prize contests seemingly abundant throughout Italy.  Who knew?

I interact with a score of Italian and American writers a day, via Facebook–a rich and uplifting pastime.  I have started a new feature on my poetry blog—I will be posting a poem by one of my new Italian/Sicilian poet-friends, with my translation, once a week–Tuesdays.  Just now I have a beautiful poem up at La Parola Vivace by a Neopolitan “poetessa, ” one Maria Esposito.

Perhaps my prose is so disjointed and clumsy tonight I should stop for now.  But I wanted to share the blessings, as it were– thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned! Here we are, on one of the lush green days of early June….more soon.

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Jack, me…on the deck…..

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Jen takes a new literary direction in her work/aka new poem….

New Poem and still singin’ the mo’ is bettah blues…

She Prepares for Him a Meal of Truth

Tonight, after a candlelit hour of talk,
you go off to sleep, vanishing into the shadows
of the living room that borders my lair
and I wonder once more why I couldn’t
follow you, taking off the invisible chain-mail
the fear of love has forged and cloaked me in
for nearly a lifetime.

Now I picture you in the homely square of bed
at the far corner of the house,
window open to the south pasture, moon
crossing east to west the night long,
its soft feet skimming your face.

Was I ever unafraid of this, to bring myself
nearer, to melt against the warm curve
of your long back and count your breaths
until I too go under,
surrendered to the swift and deep
current between us?

You love to wake to light and I
darken my rooms in the long ritual
that grants me the illusion
that I am safe from the long-clawed
demons of the past,
those denizens of the spent years
that rake my dreams like ash, digging
for the edible,
that catch dream-fish in their mouths
standing bridged over a rainbowing waterfall,
as if it were ideal to be imposing.

I’ve said to myself it’s not trivial, it’s a good
strong love and it is and yet even when you leave
the door ajar, glancing back over your
shoulder—come in if you like, bring
a pillow–

I feel the mosquito netting of anxiety
drape itself over the furniture and pool
before me like a cloak of shadows,
a membrane of dust.
I pluck at it and try to fold or roll it up,
as if I could readily consign inner
trembling to a drawer-full
of dried wings.

I lift the lid and peruse the contents
of the jar of fermenting
moths and flowers
and kisses and startings over;

why aren’t we taught to love
when we are young, shepherded
by beaming mothers
before the gruff and imposing uncle
crouched in his study, made then
to stand stock-still for the roil of dread
that so militantly barks the order: run.

Some fears have no explanation
and this is one. I love how I love,
I repeat to myself again and again,
double entendre du jour,

and what you say to me in the deeps
of one of my sleepless nights:
You’re a wonderful person,
A brilliant and kind person.
It’s just an illusion
that you are losing yourself.

But I know the real story;
I am the mule deer doe
bolting from the copse,
she who flees in the manner of a small
plains tribe on the threshold of an early
winter, hefting up its cache of dried antelope
and fruit, the pliant tipi skins,
strapping sleepy and blanketed children
to the travois, whistling up a few scrappy dogs,
heading south before the storm,
head down and moving on.

Copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2014

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Recent Poem

Indigo

To the memory of Robin Williams

Tonight I thought I felt a shimmer of light
in the long uncut grass
of late summer, the untended lawn
bordering on the pastures—
untrammeled and open.

It felt as though there was a passing
through of a force, an intention,
an urgent and low singing at moonrise

and then I read of the great comedian,
his self-extinguishing;
I heard Transtromer’s line
“My friend, you drank some darkness”
and remembered one long day

when, bankrupt of hope and will
I drove up the interstate to the Day’s Inn
with a bottle of wine and an Rx of Valium;

how I then sat in that pale blue room for hours
at the desk, now and then getting up
to ponder the dust-mute bed
where I thought I would lie down
in the first scene of the drama
I had designed—

But I could see the mountains
and their cobalt blueness and my heart
reached for them as if I could dig my fingers
into their great round shoulders and pull myself
out of the rank slough where I lay weeping.

When death draws near it is quiet,
like a held breath; it is faceless,
odorless—an imminence swinging
like a vacant noose from a live oak bough,
waiting until after the fact to wreak
potent havoc, rain stones of grief.

I thought of my form struggling down
the rough-hewn stairs of Hades
half-sentient entity lost
to the animate world.

I knew then that someone within me
who had been singing her love to me
all the years
would jettison me from that room,

and it was so. I rose, and dressed
and found myself once more
in my pick-up, heading west
on Highway 14,
shaken and renewed
from my plunge into deepest
indigo waters.

Jenne’ R. Andrews

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Latest Victim of “Recovery” Perfectionism

Robin Williams, whom most Americans feel they knew personally, is dead at 63 by his own hand.  My belief is that he felt he couldn’t measure up to the ever less permeable gold sobriety standard set by AA in which the relapser is always shamed, despite general agreement that addiction is an illness and disease.

It makes me angry.  Many of us “struggle with depression” and kiss the balls of the tiger, finding ourselves drunk again, stoned again, “using” in one form or another again and beating the shit out of ourselves for it.

I hope that Robin died so that others like me who AA would view, if I let it near me ever again, as a chronic and hopeless human being, will stop the self-recrimination and atoning with our lives for being human..

It is not shameful to relapse; sometimes frequent relapse is the road to eventual recovery.  I hate it that all over the world sick lay people have set them up as AA big deals, as sobriety’s gods, and that people who for a host of good reasons have either learned to moderate their drinking, or determined that patriarchal theocracy is not for them, are viewed by programmed scions as reprobates.  I hate it that I too am prey to the guilt trip even though I hold my head up and keep living and writing.  I the abject moral failure and AA drop-out who daily takes oxycodone and hydrocodone, both prescribed, I too who struggle with depression, am a finalist for the 2014 Autumn House Poetry Prize, one of twenty out of 500 submissions.  

Jenne’ Andrews  Fort Collins, Colorado  

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Profiles in Avarice: Larimer County Commissioners Screw the Little Guy

For twenty-five years, Jack and I have had and lived on a six acre tract boundaried by a boarding stable, through which we have an easement, with one Duane Leach with forty acres to the northwest who hays his land. East of us across the creek running through the property is a commercially zoned tract of 20 acres and to the south, a family on fifteen or so acres.

In short this is a mixed use rural neighborhood, our part of it accessible via a little known lane cutting north on the north edge of Fort Collins.

Today Jack went before the Larimer County Commissioners to request that the County not approve Leach’s lease of four square acres nearest to us for solar farming.

We are pro-environment and all for solar energy. But the main selling point of this property has been the beautiful stretch from the prime building site to the northwest all the way across farmland to the bluffs and foothills. If the solar collectors go in they will stand twelve feet tall and from my front window and Jack’s study window, we will see them. Like a scene out of War of the Worlds, they will inhabit our view and mean that when we advertise in the next year or so, hoping to make a move to the Southwest, we will be advertising land sandwiched in by commercial enterprises on three sides.

As I read through the current commissioners’ profiles and think about today’s ruling, it is evident to me that the Board is about protecting local businesses and corporate franchises. They’re men mad about money. They could give a rat’s ass that our property values go down.

Meanwhile the asshole who has been our neighbor for twenty-five years, who has never been a very generous person, who always puts his own needs ahead of anyone else’s, doesn’t care that he’s protecting his view from his living room window and screwing us out of ours.

One of the Commissioners has nine kids and proudly states that he delivered seven of these at home. Really?

Another one used to be a vet in Loveland, and has his own little enterprises going. I won’t bore you with further details about these idiots.

This County wants to appear environmentally friendly, but those with any power are about money. How to capitalize in all scenarios affecting the residents of Larimer County. They’re bringing a Boulder company in here that will be paying Leach for the use of his land.

Folks: you all might have had a map in front of you today, but you’ve completely missed the lay of the land.

 

JRA

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Falling Rocks with Some Diamonds

Today I was struck as with a rolling pin between the kitchen and my desk.  I realized that it is the pain between another person and me that crests in me unbidden and when not appropriate, that gets triggered when there is the least misunderstanding or someone and I become “crosswise,” as my husband puts it.  

We had been discussing his vacuuming of the living room which was, naturally, not to my satisfaction, and I am tired and stressed, my health issues plaguing me and under pressure to get a new creation, one of my belcherubini, beautiful cherubs I craft with vinyl kits and acrylic paint, into the mail.

Such is the nature of epiphanies, to sneak up like marauding intruders, compromising one’s state of mind.

Of course it goes back for a long, long way, to the first times when my mother and I went at each other– and earlier, even, when she found fault with me and I was so devastated I would run and hide behind the overcoats in our foyer.  

AA’s Twelve Steps address resentment and fear, but what about the cache of pain in the solar plexus, the tears and hurts, the woundings and the dark hours when all was lost between oneself and another human being?  What about how this pain repeats itself forever more.  

The diamond is this:  now I see what it is that has me by the throat, and that I so often mask w/ my moments of ire.  It is a primal and gut-twisting anguish that sent me to my basement bedroom as a teenager, when love somehow morphed into a travesty so that it was made a mockery of:  she would annihilate me with an insult, when I adored and needed her.  Everything awry, and everyone, then, grabbing the nearest bottle of Dewar’s to numb mind and heart.

How do you rehabilitate a soul?  No wonder I surround myself with belcherubini.  No wonder I self-medicate however I can.

I believe that the only way out is through.  And there is a technique called “mindfulness” that trauma survivors are taught–to hang with terrible feelings and increase one’s “distress tolerance.”

But just a minute:  why should one tolerate distress?  Repeated, cyclical like the rain distress, with its furtive pallor?

What does it take to get free of that pain?  Is it even possible? 

I’ll be back when I have another epiphany.  Feel free to weigh in.  You my cyber friends, you who have seen the damage in me and been able to forgive me and remain my family and friends, thank you.  I love you.  

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For Want of a Nail, All Is Lost

What a world we eke out a survival in. We pay lip service to conflict resolution, but in reality, is anything ever resolved, anyone forgiven, any culture or group prepared to examine itself rather than point the finger and shout that it’s the other guy?

I recently sold a beautiful doll I made on e-bay. The buyer was very complimentary about her and as a little gift I enclosed my new book.

But in the past few days, everything that can go south has. She didn’t like the way the doll was painted, so she asked for a refund and said that she was refraining from giving me a feedback rating until she got it.

I felt that she was hypercritical and that nothing was wrong with the doll. Then today, she took her apart and discovered, gasp, that I had weighted the doll with something she believed–and trumpeted to the world of doll crafters–to be rabbit or cat litter pellets!

Wrong: organic, clean wood pellets–perfectly appropriate for the task. There is no right or wrong way to weight these dolls.

She opened a case on e-bay and e-bay has ordered us to work things out. She has herself worked up and over the top, posting huge photographs of the doll and uploading them to Facebook– correction, photos of what was my doll and what she immediately took apart and is repainting and rebuilding to her own taste. What it feels like to me is that this is a scam to get a free kit and win sympathy from other artisans. Since when do you rebuild something you intend undoubtedly to list as for sale, and then demand your money back?

I have stood by my work and refused to refund her money–she has made the doll her own and it is no longer the one I made. I am hopeful that the auction site will see through all of this, but the money from the sale has been put on hold and this unpleasant interaction has bled out into the day, contaminating and complicating everything.

Learning to handle such things is not coming easily to me. I would like to choke the living shit out of the …. But…. I am practicing forbearance.

Forbearance is useful; it doesn’t mean one is caving to maltreatment; it means that one is not retaliating in kind. As far as wishing her well, praying for her and so on…are you kidding?

As any who read my blog know, I am a veteran barricade artist. I go on the barricades and mount the heavy artillery when I am wronged or when I am convinced I’ve been wronged.

Calmly holding my ground in these circumstances is difficult. But that is what I have chosen to do. At first I was hurt– I made something beautiful–that other people praised–and sold it, to get through the month. And now, everything is up for grabs.

Still, this is just a doll. This isn’t about violation of my or anyone’s civil rights, loss of my home, rageful and abusive and lying neighbors and landlords, or any of the usual suspects.

It is about a very unpleasant bump in the road, which calls for remaining calm, curtailing retaliatory impulses and taking the high road.

I used to hate it when others took the high road or refused to join me in the world of ire.

But how great is it that I am able to play wait and see– we both have strong feelings and it will be up to the powers in cyber space to make a decision.
j

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Blow Out, Down and Out.

We settled into the study and got ready to be wowed by our home team. It felt good for it to be Superbowl Sunday. I wondered how the Broncos might really feel, behind the warpaint and the dangerous privilege of being favored to win.

Hours later, I wager that all of us out here in Colorado are so very glad it’s over.

To lose by a TD or thereabouts is tolerable. But this! This fiasco, every bad move in the playbook on full display!

We’ve been delirious over Peyton Manning and where he’s taken us. But yesterday’s Peyton is today’s anti-hero.

It doesn’t feel good. I’m sad for our team and for all of us, who counted on the Superbowl to boost our elan vital, on this deep, long, very snowy night. ‘ta luego…. vaya con dios, you the fallen.

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Twilight Reverie

We meander on, make our way.

Night is falling now, over the little barn-red modular house along Dry Creek, the 80’s refurbed Fleetwood with real 2 x 6 construction we managed to get over the creek in halves circa ’91.

My kennel is long overgrown; the ghosts of my Goldens dream there and sometimes dive into the creek.

We work. We write. I light the pellet stove and try to comprehend the latest techno device to come our way: a router. I spend two hours trying to install wifi on Jack’s old laptop. Error messages in Romanian.

It takes me two minutes to install it on my laptop; small victory.

We live by small victories, little stumbles toward small achievements. The banana silk pie I invented last night. The doll I painted in acrylic and assembled, asleep for the ages yet with small peering blue eyes that unsettle me. My imagination would strike some kind of fire where a heart would be to bring her to life.

Small victories; we worm Mandy by mixing leftover horse Strongid with peanut butter. She’s better today.

The sky clock of winter turns and turns; poems fall from my mouth and incubate like lacy moths, in the silence.

We dare to love. I am 65, on the very cusp, the brow of the hill; Jack turns 72 in a few days.

We are victorious merely by living a mildly, moderately productive day, without a harsh word or a desperate thought. We love and need and forgive bravely. Soon we will sit together by candlelight in our newest ritual; sipping Martinelli’s from wine glasses, our fingers laced.

We do what you all do; we live on, trying to be good at it.

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Poem: These White Curtains

These White Curtains

Tonight, late,
in stealth and fierce beauty,
winter storm comes in
from the mountains.

We cannot hold back the snow,
these white curtains
settling like silk to the fields.
Nor can we stop the sifting down
of hours whose flames
flare in their tallow,
the brave inscriptions of smoke
over household air.

Do they write epitaph
or libretto,
what it is to be slaked
of longing?

For earlier I curled against you;
we gave ourselves to rapture
lying side by side
like sojourners in a capsule
tumbling through space’s milky seas.

Now, misgiving cloaks itself
on the peripheries of night.
and a spider swings in her web
against the frosted pane.

It is my watch: fortified
By your touch
I am at the helm
of being,

peering through my sextant
at the incandescent drapery
of snowy air,
navigating all the dark seas
of dreaming’s tiny bones.

copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2014

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