poetry
Leave a Comment

Olena Jennings: Correspondence

Olena Jennings’s recent poetry narrates travel to Georgia in the summer of 2017. Her lyric lingers between urbanness and coupling, remembering moments, and capturing an essence of absurdity.

September 2, 2017, NYC

Stray cats begged at our table, as our faces
grew moist, looking up at the sun.
Enclosures followed: the tight
space on the plane and then the cubicle. 
I ignored the eclipse, the way the shadows
on the pavement repeated themselves
like the words that fall in steady drops, 
overpowering the notations on calendars
and to-do lists. We wake beneath
the blanket from the market 
near the dry bridge. Once we drove 
towards the light, the tires against
cobblestones, the shape of the moon
calling us to the rows of jewelry, 
the repetition of desire for translucent beads
around your neck.

September 13, 2017, NYC

You gave me the key. There is a trick
you didn’t teach me, though there were often lessons:
the way to peel a carrot, to cut an onion without 
crying, and to buy carnations instead of roses. 
You spun daily life like the plot
of one of your romance novels. Your dress is always
caught in the wind even when there is only the breeze
from the window. You invite the men over who leave
their newspapers on the table, so that you are subject
to the nightly violence. Sometimes
there is even a hand against your cheek emphasizing
the glow. The street signs shine green, creating a map
of our memories. Together we lived in this house 
until you started filling the walls with other peoples’ 
portraits.
Olena Jennings, Georgia Kitten.

Olena Jennings, Georgia Kitten, 2017.

GHOSTS OF CATS

They prance down
 the hall to the studio
 where scent
 is outlawed.
 Making it even easier
 to forget
 the view of the lake
 from my window.
 I’m always working
 on the same translation,
 anarchy in my head
 and cancelled European
 adventures, my body
 already halfway there.
 He is shocked by
 the connection with his
 words, as if they are mine:
 the moment he looked up
 at the hall light
 on his way to borrow stamps
 and saw the world. I wake up
 early to caress his heart,
 but I know in this studio
 when we finally meet
 everything is too real to exist
 the way we dreamed it. There
 is the blue door, the water boiling for
 the French press, and my bare feet
 against the soft rug.

Olena Jennings’s collection of poetry “Songs from an Apartment” was released in 2017 by Underground Books. Her translations of poetry from Ukrainian can be found in Chelsea, Poetry International, and Wolf. She has published fiction in Joyland, Pioneertown, and Projecttile. Her novel Shut Mouth will be published in 2018. She completed her MFA in writing at Columbia and her MA focusing in Ukrainian literature at the University of Alberta.

Artist website: olenajennings.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s