The Works of Jennifer Campbell 

Jennifer Campbell is an English professor from Buffalo, NY, and a co-editor for Earth's Daughters.  Her first book of poetry, Driving Straight Through, was published in 2008 by FootHills Press, and other poems can be found in Caesura, HeartLodge, and Feile-Festa.

All Poems  © Jennifer Campbell


A dandelion puff alights

on a maple tree, inches from

the guitarist’s head. He casts

stunned silence over a crowd

that is moved to meditate

on a holy unholy rooftop

roofed by impenetrable clouds,

caught in the quiet chew

of his words, the meat of his heart—

raw material crows could eat,

but don’t. Courtyard, snapdragon,

city trees rest in round stone basins.

Another fuzzy tuft floats

within rare air—not hot,

but radiant in its stillness.

Like gallant trees that lay down

bark jackets to let women

cross their homemade bridges,

the way scents carry you

through the years, allow safe return

to a place, you may be here now

or folded on a plush carpet somewhere,

calling up concentration, or wrapped

in a lover’s fiercely gentle hold.

You may be wandering your mind’s
graveyard, sighting benchmark indelicacies,

brushing dust off perfect moments.

Or you may be the man slicing the air

with guitar strings, not echoing but alive,

in the center of satisfaction.

What Remains

Not a mirage: the bark-brown body

of a deer embedded in a half-melted snowdrift.

I drive by it again and again, needing

its awful beauty, taking an atypical commute,

not cringing at death’s sour taste.

I’m captivated by the cryogenic experiment,

how daily chores and weather’s urgency

trump the dignity of removal.

But its head just rests on the road,

body suspended, ever-sleeping,

reminding me of the child I was,

huddled in a beach towel, flanked

by mother and dog. Frozen in unscripted

tenderness, my mother’s eyes

watched another child in the pool.

I tower over her now, note her fragile,

rounding shoulders, though my hands

are her hands, thirty years ago. How is it

we can see, but never believe,

what we’ll become? Stepping out of space

and time for a moment, we come to know

who we are, recognize our voices on tape,

our face in a frame. Unexpectedly,

winter-gray melt and hay-colored autumn

join spring green to become the stage

for a year-end reckoning, raising questions

we’ll forget come February.