Summer 2008, #15
       "Convenient Acts of Human Behavior"

Two Poems

     by Jennifer Sweeney

How to Live on Bread and Music

You need not confront the storm
though it comes with its guillotine
of wind and arrows of ice.
Let it come.
Take the wheat in your sage-rubbed hands
and pull out the dull chords.
Fold in Ravel. Hazelnuts.
Fold in the fury,
quarternotes rising from your palms.
These are your hands weighing the earth,
alchemy of salt and scale,
hum of clovebud.
Into the fire your life goes
to work its slow magic
and the song is the yeast
when the body wants
and it wants , fills, empties
as the day fills,empties.
Song of a milk glass.
Song of chaff.
That the thing delivers itself whole
like a blessing.
Feed the animal those brown fields.
Feast the rest of the body any tune,
any note will do.


Suppose your mother had thorns
which she hid under baggy dresses
and you were just a child.
Would that explain the river between you?

Suppose during your birthday toast
there was a goldfish in your wine glass.
Would it be auspicious or foreboding?
And suppose tenderness is only a small thing

you could give, simple as a peppermint.
Would you wake with the dread you've felt for years?
Or would you remember to feed the lilies
because you're human and they are alive.