by: Jen Coleman
Jen Coleman’s poetry deploys a kind of tactical whimsy entreating us to honor all that we (should) hold dear: ourselves, our others, our world. Her poems dance off the page, they stride and amble, reaching out to us as partners because “the thing between us… has multiple hearts and brains.” We are all welcome on her raft: we’re all “superfriends” and the raft itself “is tethered together with a crazy amount of love.” In her rhythmic hymns the secret of adoration is untamed joy.
The Raft of Superfriends
On the raft of superfriends there is chatter.
On the raft of superfriends there is infinite quiet.
On the raft there is poker, dominoes, table tennis,
shuffleboard, and everyone is asleep on the game tables
and dreaming of poker, dominoes, table tennis and shuffleboard.
On the raft of superfriends there is survival.
On the raft there is a supply of savory spices and rice to everyone’s liking.
On the raft of superfriends there is enough rice to grow an island of rice,
to shore up the raft. On the raft of superfriends there is a little bit
of tenderness for the sores we nurse.
On the raft of superfriends there are very good ideas
and very bad ideas. There are good ideas, bad ideas,
and ideas that blossom if you give them
enough attention from all of the superfriends.
There are hammocks, too, and saunas, and sunshine
and wind to carry the raft. There are wild moments of laughter
followed by a few tears on the raft of superfriends. On the raft
there are in-jokes that every superfriend is in on.
On the raft of superfriends there is much talk of dogs,
and there are dogs that come and go, and there is love
for dogs that is sprinkled like spices in the bountiful rice.
On the raft of superfriends there is a surprise.
On the raft there are no surprises to find a surprise.
What is absurd on the raft of superfriends is that absurdity
is not absurd to a superfriend.
What’s great about the raft of superfriends is the friends
themselves and the fact of the raft. The fact of the raft is that it is
plenty long and steady on calm water, on rough water, in the wind
and in the air and even on land.
The raft of superfriends is built solid. The raft of superfriends
is tethered together with a crazy amount of love.
The raft of superfriends can be thrown into the rapids with a string
tied to the finger of a little boy, and find its way through.
And the string, let go, will trail the raft until it finds its way into an eddy
and then assist in lifting the raft back into the hands of the boy.
Harney County, Oregon
You cannot keep all you kill with your car.
A wolf a bighorn you kill with your car.
You cannot keep a pronghorn you kill with
your car by weapon or by accident
when sun comes in at an angle to your
eye a beginning so much like the end.
You can keep all the coyote you kill
with your car or gun just for fun you can
fill your truck or trunk with coyote, skunk
possum, badger, porcupine and weasel.
A bull is outside the fence near the road
(you cannot keep all you kill here) and birds
bobolink, sage sparrow, quail, hawks and owls.
There are birds. There is a time to go home.
The thing between us has an intelligence.
The thing between us has a will to poison.
The thing is dangerous and smart and hard
to catch in a glimpse or look in the eye.
The thing between us has a body like
nothing else on earth. It has multiple
hearts and brains. The thing between us
will eat, eat, and eat until we see it.
The thing between us has arms that can be
lopped off and reappear, can squeeze into
tiny spots. Feel that? Could be a kitten
the hound dog sees, seizes and snaps to bits
or eyes nervously and drools and drools drool.
Be that drool thing to me, little brute.
Jen Coleman of Portland, Oregon is a member of the Spare Room reading series collective. Her book Psalms for Dogs and Sorcerers (Trembling Pillow Press) was selected by Dara Wier for the 2013 Bob Kaufman Book Prize.