<i><b>Wicked Alice Poetry Journal
wicked alice| summer 2007

Jennifer Gilllespie


Driving Back With No Map



Now we’re cross-hatched

as gibberish on the airwaves,

vapor skids on sky,

new graffiti over old.


The bad hotels, the long mornings

we’ve liked each other,

rolled off the husk of talk,

late check out,

the buffet pecked over.


Lone pastille of a voice on the radio,

a woman tells of lighthouses in Italy.

When I hear a stranger speak

of details far away, I’m much calmer, aren’t you?


I spy the last boulevard of Memphis,

the moth of light on your wrist

as you steer us back

to the one home we have,

the calamitous city,

its high old stars never wasted

on those who re-enter.




Luminous Monotony 





How coarse were those few days:


the bird claw outside the Cuban place, perfectly detached,

dark yellow, unloved ornament.

A bit of tuft left.

The girls more entranced than the boys.


Esther was the one to first look, to wander into the dark laughter.




I commented on the pink, opening sky, long past the woman’s breasts too exposed


at the bank, changing our work day

into papery keys, unlocking more;

no eye contact. Her breasts,

swinging and pale, bothered you;


    decorum, I suppose. Or maybe dumb desire.


There is always a vein in the sky

that waits to burst.




Why I knew you loved me in that second,

out of all our lucid flesh and word transactions:

the way you jotted a helpline number

in a kind of casual music,

looking at me with a kind of

helplessly steady light.

Your plain gaze on anyone’s tears,

inquisitive touch on public sculpture.

And I would not for the life of me return that look.


You are someone

who pours a glass of water

perfectly, without spilling, in the dark.




In the bath,

cuffs of warm silver encircle our wrists,

insects shiver

on the sill above.




Deep in the parked car, deep

beyond the torn fog of the roads.

Your chest a light amber, exposed, unhurrying,

changing into ski clothes in the front seat.

The square of pink light on your face

as if you’d been projected, just then,

Upon a wave I’d plotted,

curved upward, unshadowed,

strung to all the hands of air

for my endless taking.






I come home early from work.

I like rigor when it finds me.


But seeing the end of daylight

seemed necessary today.


Someone’s nailed a small painting,

a flat heron on wood, on the streetlamp.


The mailwoman’s teenage daughter

joins her on her route, murmurs to her


while she tends to strangers’ affairs.

Maybe she understands,


maybe the daughter does too, who

quietly steers her mother’s cart—


the secrecy, the magnitude

of these systematic offerings.


That they could slay the day for some,

or coax into delight.


Somewhere in this neighborhood,

my friend peddles geodes


her father scraped for her from the mines.

The one she gave me, a purpled knotted pool,


a slate for the myriad romances

between elements, a fig


unchecked by weathering.

A purple like a healthy blood.




Jennifer Gillespie  a poet, musician and editor living in Chicago.  She received an M.A. in poetry from the University of Texas and has been published in 42 Opus and Front Porch.