A Poem by Jennifer Mackenzie

Small White Bed

Carving nudes in Styrofoam Art
crouches shoving moss into its
mouth inquiring Why should we
persist as a whisper, nuptial
itch of a contra-etching of its
Do not contemplate us           Mr.

) (

You can say anything about women
& it will be true. This is the capacious
yes of use         The famous blue
hazard                   Why women are
assigned           the grieving parts
& the prayer of Magdalena:     unbind

my debt as I
unbind my hair

I like the men with beards
No you shut up

) (

My debt as I unbind
the ice in the hinges
of the train’s hair
squeaks along

Gravy baked in Go
I am making a little curtain
to protect me from the police
O Leet-el.     Cur-ten.     O

I love the train
I adore.     I climb
the tipsy red
metal ladder I sweet

sweet needle evade
the haystack police inspector
I stare at my square-toed suede
boots on the scarred floor

I like the word mizz-
Sonja. the fly-heart of my failed

love buzzing from
shit to food to coffee
A day in the life of

He drew it as a flip book, very clever
You could sell that!
she told him

) (

And who the hell are you
I am the police
And what do you want
Police control
Where are you from

Ah. And if I say
the A or if I don’t

-reeka, arab way, a jewel in the ear of
an Ethiop for Mr. William’s milk opening

a silk purse from
a sow’s ear. Do you have any
antique things?
In my vagina
I dress it up a bit

for him, my ancestors’ Irish
face and hair, in my foreigner dinghy
soft pinks & riverweed woven torrid

pseudo-gypsy rica, arabesque my brandy
in my sober curtsey tawny with the frills of
where the tongue locates the R

starts wide open ah with the whole
freedom of the opened Then a hopeful

humming stadium M, gwee-
tara Stradivarium

in a floral apron frying
a ribbed glass washing board
Nice hobby, scrubbing

my country which wasn’t
destroyed by war

) (

The swanning girls singing
the names of violated towns
glister on stage in white gowns

& the football hooligans with longing
in their hearts are burning
the whole bombed city down

M is one of them.     Preternaturally drunk
in sleep, sweating into dawn

& ok, let’s say there is this slightly drunk
& inept person who is your soul
& slightly overweight also

Overwaiting.     Filling his clothes & his rages
like a silo of drugged glass. Toasting
the golden fish & bunches of black

balloons wobbling festive as
policemen’s punches slapping down
sevens then pitching forward
into nightcold panes

the wrong color for
a life of anything.     God of
my most adoring candor fleeing

) (

I like a gold field though
I love the absence of irony
from a life of crime
Little places just waiting

to be trashed.     Gray hawk
flying swimmingly
& to trash, of an evening
The bride & bridegroom

A wing in my fit
A little bride wing, blithe wind

drunk wing sweating
horselike & hacked off
& a gold field like I said

& the blouse of the violated women
floats singing all by itself

a song about a golden fish
that doesn’t make much
sense, a little banished gray

shed or banshee, a leetel
headache sweating

into the bag of loose tobacco
but no rolling paper
dawn & how bout those

how many thousands dead
& how much is
this blouse, so pretty

) (

in the creaky stranded ship of the raptor
museum a stuffed peregrine clutching
a dove swooning its white neck back
re-enacts an aria of defeated love

The media successfully identified the bad
guy & because he rhymed with bad
sky didn’t ask any further gestation

Locked & loaded I want to float out
like a bad guy’s bad white dove

of fallen tree ignition. Just me and the Virgin
necking in perfect English, stroking
olive oil on each other’s face & throat

to make to mask us then paper
plaster & a bandage drying

suddenly tightens up. Safe
in our rages, a sturdy blue
score to organize our lives on

such images of others
to record our faces so

I love leave Manchev yelling
affection in his language

into the stray dog’s fur. I want to go out smiling
& do. Any words would spoil this

Seized with a fierce unreasonable love
Seized with a fiercely unreasonable love

upon departure     The bandaged angel
bleeding.     The ex-stray dog’s fur

) (

Gray hawk swimmingly
Bled watermelons rotting
between blown rows of corn

black sheets hung from
tree limbs, scarecrows               Nobody

today                         They can’t kill me
sez Igor             I have all this knowledge about them

) (

Gray-brown butteo standing
right by the tracks, thinking, officious

Gold-backed accipiter maneuvering
above watermelons

the backs of its wings
the exact color of marmalade

the exacting sadness of
hotel breakfasts

[Dear Linnaeus
what is foreign]

) (

[That all good poetry is the poetry of exile]

is bullshit, I belong to my body & try
desperately & stubbornly to unknow it

The Individual distilled into
Outspoken by Fergie
a girl on the street hands me its flyer

a naked goddess folded clutching
a giant moody purple

penis or vulva?     Citizen of the new
you choose.     A shell fired by

The Aggressor disrobes
revealing a fractured silver
tributary that was nothing but a line of

stinking women with broken teeth
nymphs weeping into pre-
Raphaelite hair like waterweed

shuffling past you, shaved
brown paper stained
with a little grease

) (

You just adore
something totally ravaged
Look at me I’m on fire

The victim-posture
a violin with burning
straw for hair & bones

& safe in the sturdy blue
bandage we undulate
to the music of worms &

isn’t this a polka? Wow

) (

& now

a small white bed
moving through

immensities.       & what do you know
about immensities?       & is it true that because
of our emotional natures women cannot write

anything truly grand?     It is another white
immensity, my starched ellipsis-
trundled bed made tightly

Ok then, trundled.    Now listen
although you cannot hear

Them.     Immensities
The bad, & famously

unpitied, ripen


Jennifer Mackenzie Jennifer Mackenzie

Jennifer MacKenzie lives in Damascus, Syria, near the shrine of poet and mystic Ibn Arabi, in the middle of a still-booming fruit, vegetable, and pajama market. Other recent poems by her have appeared or are forthcoming in Fence, Shampoo, Drunken Boat, and Esque.

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