Two Poems by Jamieson Ridenhour

by: Jamieson Ridenhour ((Header art is by the incredibly talented Brooklyn-based artist, José Parlá.))

Jamieson Ridenhour’s poems ask us to consider the ways our memories and perceptions are folded into the larger narrative we tell ourselves, the one we call “real life,” as though our dreams and fictions weren’t as true as the cold hard facts. 

Ridenhour3 (Jose Parla)

Paris, January 17th, 2015

He stands still in the throng
of the Rue Galanade, an island
in the midst of that boisterous river,
parting the people unmoved.

He is a shopkeeper, perhaps,
smallish, middle-eastern,
pea coat, scarf, and beret
arms hanging loose under the streetlamps.

Easily two hundred people
in the narrow side-street, bouncing
and shouting amongst the stalls,
the dusk lowering like mist,

His hanging hand holds a bouquet—
a dozen red roses, longstemmed,
their heads blooming just above
the bricks of the street. While the bells

of Notre Dame ring the hour from
their island in the Seine, and the faux-
Irish pub spills The Kinks jangling
into the calamitous crowd,

he remains fixed, his eyes straining
through the faces, watching for—
what? The receding back
of a dark-haired head? The way

she drifts through the horde
without a backward glance?
Or just the hope of seeing
her appear for once the same

way—straining her own eyes
towards his—yearning the way
he yearns, alone in the street,
all day, and all through the night?


Run Tell This

I could tell you about the devilled eggs
or grandma’s coleslaw or the powder
blue semi tractor idling in the front
yard. Or I suppose I could tell

you about the kudzu or the puppies or
the cottonmouth in the heater room
or the cloud of mosquitos like a pissed
off pin cushion. A rusted Falcon station

wagon and the smell of Old Spice on broad
hunched shoulders probably isn’t exactly
the thing. And it’s not enough to say
that the first time Jeff Kirby saw a bug

spray truck he panicked and jumped
in Lynches River, though we were yelling
it wasn’t a big deal, we all knew it was safe,
would chase it laughing in a cloud of DDT.

You might could stand to hear about Rascelle
and Odessa and Pauline and Myrtle, Gran Torinos
and receding hairlines. But it’s all dirt and sweat
and a pitbull named Wulfgar, chained

behind the house by the old empty hutch.
If I had to be honest, I’d tell you
about how Uncle Bruce used to sleep
walk, how one night he left the house,

the screen door slamming everyone awake.
Grandaddy caught him walking down Westminster
in his underpants, moving with purpose, snoring
on the run, never once looking back.


Jamieson Ridenhour is the author of the comedy murder-mystery Barking Mad (Typecast, 2011) and the award-winning short films Cornerboys (2009) and The House of the Yaga (2011), and editor of the Valancourt edition of Sheridan LeFanu’s lesbian vampire novel Carmilla. Jamie’s ghost play Grave Lullaby was a finalist for the Kennedy Center’s David Cohen playwriting award in 2012. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Architrave, The Lumberyard, TheNewerYork, and Mirror Dance, among others, and has been podcast on Pseudopod, Cast of Wonders, and Radio Unbound.

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