Danse Macabre: Grendles Modor

I am so happy to announce that a poem that I wrote entitled “Grendles Modor” has been published in Danse Macabre Journal’s “DM Du Jour.”

I wrote the poem when I was an undergraduate back in 1998 when I read Beowulf for the first time. Two years ago (in 2018) I went back and edited the poem because I was teaching Beowulf in my World Literature course and felt a new inspiration. My revision goal was to highlight the feminine power of Grendel’s mother, who was always the most fascinating character for me in the epic poem.

Find the poem here: https://dmdujour.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/jenn-avery-grendles-modor/, or read the poem below (with proper formatting).

Timpani

I suppose my heart
May be just like that

Timpani

So coarse but limber
Enough

To stretch its membrane
Out of reach then past —

Before jerking back to just
Wobble out a pure note

Its soft swell harbored in
Hard frameworks

It’s difficult to know how
The hollow bowl

Resounds

Inside me my heart it
Rings

A strange sound
For a drum

I sit beside it which is stranger
Still

 

Joy

What is sacrificed first, almost with joy,
But not with joy;

Joy, itself

Gibing down the dream corridor
Tantalized by its soul-balm

Reveries pirouetting or tango-doing
Across an incandescent slurry of something

Of mine

Mine of rapture-crusted jewelries
Resplendent with giggling

From a belly
Bursting with feast of the most sumptuous sort

A joy,
The imagining of its return

A joy,
Somewhat, its privation

Black Locust Road

When Nature needs to speak, she will
Reach into her washbag of wet roots
Pull back handfuls of filberts, gambol
The dice down a road
Lined with Black Locust trees

Roll down each toe
Bone to powder that once stood
Atop domains, believing
Its tread regulates it all

I’m wearied of pretending, she’ll say and reveal
All is deciduous wild under her
Control

Blood of habit, she outpours
Cream-honey
Down the thread furrows of bark
The hardest heartwood around

They line streets of every town
Shawls of armistice and other invasive growth
Hawthorne springtime, at last

Bloom’s End

I tried to live at the top of that tree
In twigs, no matter the frailty
The green blaze, a din of temporality
Swept through with reserve

I fell to the trunk
The spine of an open book
Roofed over my heart:
The Return of the Native
Eustacia Vye’s heart and mine
Loosed in Egdon Heath

I wouldn’t mind all that furze
But for the hot walk home
Away from the tree and its supports
As it shoves me out
And back to Bloom’s End

I  run backward
And see it as a snapshot
Where I lived for a time –

I could say that it was green forever
But I’d be lying

Unheimlich

A queer thing about that house:
There are no birds there, or enough
To bicker over whether it’s alive

Its windows blush flaxen in the hours
Between 2 and 4
With a radiance peculiar, familiar
Any man walking by will press his cheek to the pane
Just to feel the thrilling dissonance,
The paradox of being revolted and enticed
In equal portion
By its homey homelessness

The woman appears at 3:37
To make a speech:

What she regrets most about her life
Is that the brash piece of siding that always swings
Apart from the rest of the house
Gives it all away
About what is inside

She could stand the eyesore
If the house was unbreakable

When I Think of Trees

When I think of us I think of trees
Grounded and rooted and reaching
Up into the Unknown to know

We live in the present but still dream
Green and vibrant and feathered
Of a home crafted of our woods intermingled

Cork and Beech and Birch, perhaps
The striation and silk, strain and surrender

Of our concord, a fertile parasol above
Beneath which we can bear the splendor of love, unshaded
In late equinox precipitate

Our mingled bulk invents the weir
To crib the imminent snow and the successive
Freshets of sapling season.

Requisite

Anything but hunger
       — ing

After all of this
Appetite

Has settled
Down debris, be seated

Pillage and core
Rows upon rows of deserted homes
Wanting kin

Each Friday evening set to burn
But too empty to catch, quite

Human hunger in the Autumn
Is better than none
For anything

Why dreaming of sinew and all that bone?
Everyone knows

The Marble Faun
Will not survive
Settled under all that soft on soft, soft too
Coaxes and heals

The hound of the self
Comes to feed no more
When hunger has a different name.

Arboretum

Beneath the canopy of a weeping Beech
Wearing its molten roots like a dress
Its thin skin carved into with names of elapsed loves
Lump torso bowed and overthrown but held by metal crutches
Ordained by some idealistic Harvard undergraduate 

Even the most coached head
Cannot help but to fall to the stomach as if rolling
Down through the throat of the heart
Just being in the presence of that kind of onus

I emerge winded, merge
To fuse our souls that blossom like a flower of life
Free of crutch

Miraculously so
Celestial

We rove Oaks and striated Corks
Ropey emotion of the artist itself
These dresses swallow water to suckle the furthest sprig
Propelled by some electricity,
The very same
It must be
That stirs you and me

A passerby overhearing this eclogue
Would think that weeping was only an emotion in need
Of supports
And not a telluric invitation
To unlock the index of remembering
Love

The Red Armchair, By Picasso

Were I to paint
A self-portrait,
There you all would be.

Beneath my face, another
All you nesting dolls
Heaped beneath the sheath.

Seventy fingers entwined
Resting on my manifold thighs
Pointing all directions
Mostly behind.

A pillow breast so large
For all I stashed away and saved
A withered tag slouched
By my arm
For all the whiles I gave.

My body curves
In all directions,
Because muscle remembers
The body’s infections.

Croton Plant

Waking with nonentity
Beside

A leaf-adorned plant
Draped in all that green
Luxury.

So jealous
Of its photosynthesis.

All the veined fronds cuddle
Swigging light together
Toasting their companionship.

Organ over organ, stretching
Out for provision
From the sun.

But think of the pot
The soil
A relentless want
Of water
To heal
Its incessant wilt.

It too, is exposed
It too, alive
With the fear
That its sustenance
Will vanish.

Or that everything will:
Leaves, plant, and sun together
Leaving only a woman
Displaced
In uninhabited space.

Everyone knows
Loneliness
Must always be the tonic
For a longing of verdure.