Skip to content →

Category: Jennifer Moxley

The Yield

Cold to the Christmas bluster,

which I believed “all bloated commerce,”

I morning-gazed not half-awake

out the low distorting window panes

scarcely secured in the rotting casements

of this old Sears catalog bungalow.

I was careless of the scene I watched.

It spoke, I thought, a dreary death—

aloft, monotonous cottony white,

below, twig-littered lifeless brown—

before the impending pinch,

a snow-portentous silent stillness

in a maddeningly quiescent landscape.

A thumb of silvery fur ensnared

my visual stupor: it was a mouse

scooting across the perilous ground

that lay between the rustic lean-tos

of brittle nut-brown maple leaves.

Image-gripped, but how to name it,

this will to live in little things?

Upon such monumental nerve

we build and break our wage.

Wholly unaware of me with cup

of tepid tea, well-fed antagonist

needled toward wonderment

by the pertinacious gathering

of this tiny attic resident, who,

apropos my fancy, went about

his fretful setting up of store

while seeming to mutter under

his breath, “a big storm’s coming!”

He was right. Come midnight

and the ribboned pine wreaths

hung upon the wooden doors,

this artless morning theater

was dressed foot-high in drifts

of blue-tinged starlit snow.

from ClampdownFind more by Jennifer Moxley at the library

Copyright © Jennifer Moxley
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

Where to

I’ve written imitations, thought long and deeply

over models, delving into wordscape mysteries,

seeking keys to animate swirls of alternative lives

entombed in the pulp of dead trees, signatures

of once bright insight, a ghastly, ghostly business.

They do not consent to my friendship, and I,

in return, give nothing. I am but a host

these few years on earth. The author’s spirit

in me lives locked up. Can you imagine that?

Erased by this prison illusion, I wander

from task to task, head in a box, a shell-self,

a flat surface in forced three-dimension,

I long to be laid down, reduced, or filled,

to fall on my knees, to plead the return

of the lost benevolence I powerfully suspect

exists, and once saw, I think, but can’t remember.

The senses shrivel up. Leave us be, they cry.

Cups of skin creep over eyes, nose, ears, mouth.

This loathing without recourse is tasteless

love excess, turned sour, inward, sewn up.

Painstaking duty tracery calms the bursting forth,

which is crying, a boxed cat shaking, crazed

by the cramp of no care but kind words.

No, this dampened life-will is no irrational spate,

it is crystal sanity trapped in sad okays,

in especial safety before and after,

in knowing knowledge the soul’s sole sustenance

and knowing all knowledge must be undone.

from ClampdownFind more by Jennifer Moxley at the library

Copyright © Jennifer Moxley
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

The Spark

I wrote this happiness myself.

I chose this man, this house, this cat.

I put my shadow twin

upstairs in the leaf of a

mediocre book I thought

never to open again. I felt grateful.

Upstairs there were many

photo albums with gluey pages

and yellowed Mylar in between

which Polaroids had come

unstuck. In them happy children

pitch tents, watch TV,

open presents, and smile before

homemade birthday cakes.

Had I known them? I knew

that I was not missing them

or missing out and thus my heart

was full. But, I thought,

should phosphorus mix

with potassium chlorate

and hit the gaseous air,

this man, this house, this cat,

be lost, what then? They’d join

the many other dead

whose memories I tend.

I cannot miss. My heart is full

and grateful. But, I thought,

while I still could, should

neural plaques and tangles

knot my mind, my heart would

empty and all of this would

cease to be. I could not miss it,

nor even this, my spark.

from DruthersFind more by Jennifer Moxley at the library

Copyright © 2019 Jennifer Moxley
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.


The soaked crow beside the road

has lost his definition. His smooth

bird outline and shiny blue-black

feathers—once used by poets

to describe the color of

their beloved’s hair—

are dulled and dripping. He seems

attired in unkempt fur, wooly.

Like a yak. His stick legs gingerly

step beneath him through a muddy

puddle. The surrounding neon grass

plays its role as the gatekeeper

of the busy college road, lying

obedient before the digital clock

in the yard of the national bank’s

prim and well-kept local branch.

from The Open SecretFind more by Jennifer Moxley at the library

Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Moxley
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.


How lovely it is not to go. To suddenly take ill.

Not seriously ill, just a little under the weather.

To feel slightly peaked, indisposed. Plagued by

a vague ache, or a slight inexplicable chill.

Perhaps such pleasures are denied

to those who never feel obliged. If there are such.

How pleasant to convey your regrets. To feel sincerely

sorry, but secretly pleased to send them on their way

without you. To entrust your good wishes to others.

To spare the equivocal its inevitable rise.

How nice not to hope that something will happen,

but to lay on the couch with a book, hoping that

nothing will. To hear the wood creak and to think.

It is lovely to stay without wanting to leave.

How delicious not to care how you look,

clean and uncombed in the sheets. To sip

brisk mineral water, to take small bites

off crisp Saltines. To leave some on the plate.

To fear no repercussions. Nor dodge

the unkind person you bug.

Even the caretaker has gone to the party.

If you want something you will have to

get it yourself. The blue of the room seduces.

The cars of the occupied sound the wet road.

You indulge in a moment of sadness, make

a frown at the notion you won’t be missed.

This is what it is. You have opted to be

forgotten so that your thoughts might live.

from The Open SecretFind more by Jennifer Moxley at the library

Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Moxley
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.