Jennifer K. Sweeney


Some mornings are delivered as if by bulldozer,
excavator, the piston's boom arm cranking
night away, dawn dumped from the backhoe's
toothed bucket. Five am and a dead mouse
at our feet, the toilet's overflowed
and the boy's weeping at the terrible
lack of dragons. This morning is a dragon
spitting us back into the daily, kid.
Come on coffee grounds, be extraordinary.
Or every morning is like this. Or
this is how I love it most. Coming apart
and all at once. The unraveling
what I recall best of childhood:
snakes in the basement, paint in my hair,
tying a string of bikes together and riding
downhill. I don't remember the crash,
just the calamitous liftoff. The knowledge
revealed only in the moment after pushing forward,
and the thrill of how much it would fail.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three poetry collections: Little Spells (New Issues Press, 2015), 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 work has recently appeared in American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard, Kenyon Review Online, Mid-American Review, New American Writing, Puerto del Sol, Thrush, Verse Daily and The Washington Post. See more at

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