Two Poems by Jenna Cardinale

by: Jenna Cardinale ((Header image sourced from Dawn Ng’s stunning art installation entitled, “I Fly Like Paper.”))

From noticing the “fluorescent moth hallway” on her way to work to ruminating on how “Death came after/ a wave full of what’s living” Jenna Cardinale’s poems fearlessly take the measure of the worlds we tend not to notice or want to see — places the poet seems to feel at home.


Leafless, Branchless, Barkless

You cannot see these ghosts sway
in a regular wind.

++++++I wouldn’t build a cabin
++++++from wood cut out of a gray forest.

++++++I wouldn’t sleep in
++++++my angry ancestors’ house.

++++++I want to retire alone
++++++to my tremendous bed.

++++++I pretend no one has died
++++++in the apartment I own.

++++++When the candle on the table rocks and rocks,
++++++I suggest possibility. An affectionate spirit.

But these trees weren’t stripped
from beyond. Death came after
a wave full of what’s living.

I’m not afraid of the next
big one. Or of what comes

Some home.


Not Quite Anthropology

To get outside, you’ve got to enter
the fluorescent moth hallway.

The space is unkempt, but curated.
Painted paper sculptures patterned
with what could be considered intent.

More mechanical than other airplanes.
Well-folded and self-propelled.

The super won’t sweep up against the dying
light. Leave their angles all
across the floor. A museum

for a kind of living. You can’t help
but visit before you leave
for work.


Jenna Cardinale writes poems. Some of them appear in Verse Daily, Fruita Pulp, Handsy, and the HIV Here + Now Project. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she co-curates the mostly-monthly poetry series Readings in Color.

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