poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

About this poet

Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of Leaving Tulsa, published by the University of Arizona Press. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Foerster has received a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco.

Touring the Earth Gallery

Chicks—dead in a once teeming reef
and a mother bird
scouring ghostly coral.

            We dozed, broke our machines.

Extreme heat, intensifying rain
will bring the island states’ collapse,
a fast decline of sea grass.

            Our time period is one of
            glacial isostatic adjustment.

In the third chamber, dust
daily rearranged into pastoral scenes:

            beach strewn with radioactive crustaceans—

                      “The Woman at Repose
                      with the Sea Behind Her.”

Note that it is not the woman’s
figure that is kinetic
but the structures above her:

            fugitive lightning,
                      skeleton of a Dodo bird.

There, where a poet scrapes
her tail across tundra—

            see the sand blowing over
            her last regret.

She dips her quill into a pigment jar,
scrawls her forecast across the clouds:

            neon-blue antlers,
                      cellular squid.

Smacked into glass
that resembled the sky—a sparrow
sleeps on its side in the dirt,

            yellow-feathered, wind-stuffed.

Originally published in Past Simple. Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Foerster. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally published in Past Simple. Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Foerster. Used with the permission of the author.

Jennifer Foerster

Jennifer Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of Leaving Tulsa, published by the University of Arizona Press. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Foerster has received a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco.

by this poet

poem

An atlas
on the underside of my dream.

My half-shut eyelid—
a black wing.

I dipped sharp quills
in the night’s mouth—

moths swarmed
from my throat.

I pulled a feather blanket
over my skeleton
and woke—

a map of America
flapping in the dark.

Once

poem

for Cosetta

Once there were coyotes, cardinals
in the cedar. You could cure amnesia
with the trees of our back-forty. Once
I drowned in a monsoon of frogs—
Grandma said it was a good thing, a promise
for a good crop. Grandma’s perfect tomatoes.
Squash. She taught us to

poem
As a child I tossed
all my imaginary friends
out the window of a fast moving train
because I wanted to feel my fist
break open as I freed them,
as each of their bodies
whipped against the siding,
their insides: snow
dispersing into wind,
their little heads rolling
across the yellow plains.

Because I believed