wicked alice| fall 2009

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Jennifer C. Manion



Floating World


Though you see my spy throat

Where others see a bed

Of leaves and moss, a deer’s ear

Chrysanthemums left to illumine

The monk’s cell

You wait and go

No further, the way

I hold water in my mouth

Pretend to swallow

You see

My spy throat, not

Just wing but

Hawk’s beak and snare

Nestled in its silk pouch

Hand, wristed, not

Just this sleeve’s



You wait and see

How the water moves down

My throat, tell me

Wait and go

No further, we two

Will drink once more

Before we put up

Our hair, take up

Our fans









Flowers in everyone’s hands


We hold the invitation

Minutely.  Back door.  Come in.  Back down.


Wish for a longer life stinging around her neck.

We suspect a nemesis.


We say what's my middle name, what was your word for me.

We are back, say back right now, say a child is a balm is a bee.



Mutation of buttons and heirlooms.


She says we run too absent, says some lose their leaves while

The small varieties stay ever green.












Not Caused by Anything in This World


We have a lot of really abstract emotions, not caused by anything in this world…

You can wake up in the morning and you are happy.  Extraordinarily happy with no traceable cause.

                                                                                                                                                —Agnes Martin, painter



This is the leaning of sunlight


she thinks


            the weather has flung up its dress


            accepting a sweet start


This is what is spoon-fed fondly


what is a future feather


something swimming beneath a hanging chance


she thinks


            like a broken halter





When she went round-the-world


landing in Bombay with strangers, she fell


into a trance, was taken off the boat and, for a month


in the hospital, hung like a white moth, a dangling button.



In catatonia’s luminescence, she blew out


earthly representations,


imbued as newly







This is a canvas where lines


cross under color


what is freed measurement of sitting still


in open hope


she thinks


            bravery of the unstrung


            the way my wing misunderstood white










Page in a schoolgirl’s notebook


Penciled letters pleat the edges.

She favors clouds, would pin their stems

Down as the sisters pin ledges


Of wimples, her failing, falling hem

Call her simple for not speaking

French, for being left with them.


Into folds of snow as seeking

The world’s white sleeves, she

Finds again the garden, creaking


Branches of the arching elm tree.

L’orme, the sisters tell her.  She hears arm

And warm, presses what she’s free


To say against the trunk’s own alarm.

It’s winter still.  Mittens hardening

To wooly ice. Cold gathering to harm.


The convent bells begin to ring

And she, transparent as some unborn thing.










Silhouette: Ana Menieta


No hum in the photograph

no unseen apartment no

blood or feathers brick sidewalk

no brook at the time of her death

she was searching


no gravesites no archeological

ruin no forests in Mexico no Cuba

no pyrotechnics no fire for her

origins a studio no branding

iron in burning cloth


no earth-body mud no home-

land no firsthand hallmark

no silhouette no outcropping

no sand traced as scarecrow as

body overwhelmed from exile





Jennifer Manion received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University and currently writes and edits in Minneapolis, MN, where she misses the ocean. Her poetry has appeared in Fence, inch and three candles, among other journals.