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Jeremy Penna

About the Poet

Jeremy Penna earned his B.A. from the University of Delaware in 2009, having completed, as a thesis, a verse translation of Beowulf and some of the shorter Old English poems.

His poems and translations have appeared variously with his translation of Horace's Ode 1.25 winning the 2012 Der Hovenassian prize.

For over a year, he has been the manager of a poem-a-day listserve. He teaches English as a Second Language in Newark, Delaware.


Spring 2014 »
Two Shovels and a Dead Cat

Maybe there's lovers with Cherubs and Ariels
Perched on the gate behind which Eden was
And still seems visitable, the past's hotel
The lobby of pictures and mementos. Not us.

We have, today, two shovels and a dead cat.
The shovels cluck and chop and bite their tongues
Over roots, cradled rock, clay as tough as meat.
Their weapon-talk serves as the only song

Here as we cut, inch-meal, a measly trench
In public land, then scatter the bruised leaves
And leave her, illegally, for time to clench
And thaws to disinter, the stag beetles to thieve.

Each place overlaps some unrecalled address,
Some was; and what was here, though near,
Falls too remote for even a blind guess.
Each footprint tamps down the lost frontiers:

Pets, loves, Edens, laughter that plants no bones,
Blessed oddments, loosened from flesh and blood,
Will mingle somewhere beyond the least suspicion
And mutter to themselves, as taciturn as mud.




The ear-ring you did not lose
When it slipped behind the bed,
I found it later bending my head
Down to look for shoes.

The glued nail, painted green
That slipped off in the blankets
I found again with change and trinkets
Loose in the laundry machine.

The bits and oddments that I gave
Up for gone and didn't care to lose
Float up somewhere like scraps of news
From what I could not save:

One thing I watched like a crook
Night and day from one to ten
Sprung off and won't be found again
No matter where I look.



Horace: Ode I.25

Your window rattles less and less
With the spears of the boys who were brave
And the door that love woke up
Sleeps on the lintel.

Before it squealed on its hinges
To welcome them. You never hear, “Lydia!
I'm out here dying in the night, and you're
Sleeping Lydia?”

You resent the fat lovers, overflowing,
Going out happy in the narrow streets
To Thracian bacchanals, the wind blowing
Between the moons,

To think to yourself about the sort of love
That inspired the horses
In heat but that feels like an ulcer now,
To keep remembering

That the skinny boys just care about
The green ivy and new myrtle,
The old leaves being swept up in the North Wind,
Winter's helpmeet.



Broken Glass

Before single stream and trucks with the huge
Robotic arms that up ended the bin like a shot
You hauled bottles by the cardboard box
Shiraz and Cabernet emptied at such a rate

Everything in the kitchen (teapots, drawers, cabinets)
Kept spilling out corks till you bought the pot
For planting trees and filled it to the brim:
"The pot of corks" sat in the room like art.

The vinegar of July, you stand with boxes,
Wine empties by the glass recycle bins.
You throw bottles into the slot and flinch
Back for shattering bees, hot by the brim.

When Walter Payton died, his son told papers
He'd found a vase in his father's room filled
With hundreds of banana candy wrappers,
The spill and rustle of his father's laughter.

I think of that. Corks, bottles, suffixes
Of every dollar spent, the penny change
Unusable, indisposable, but here
As bees that shatter and glitter near the graves.



Old Trail Worker With Alzheimer's

The only eyewitness I knew to that notorious
Wildcat scavenging near the Piedmont creek,
So rare the warning posters seemed ridiculous,
Since it had more names (the wildcat, the shriek-

Cat, the hellcat, the jaguar) than lank survivors
To stick them with, was a seventy-five
Year old one time orienteer and trail worker
These days wading dementia's shallow lees

And still hiking, some days, out beyond
The snarling creek, the yarrow whelms, and limbos
Where there's nothing to forget of the old bond

Holding between secrets of wilderness,
A mind wintering back to leafless nerves
And paths that he once slashed through the preserves.


Jeremy Penna ~

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