"Playing Poker for Lost Souls OR Sitting Across from Your Therapist" by Jen Rouse

You call me an insensitive asshole. I panic. What haven’t I noticed?  I’m not well. It’s not my fault. There are no cards. You tell me you don’t know how to play, and, yet, you’re winning. I make you anxious. I see you sneak a perfectly-postured singer’s breath. I’ll see your hurt little girl and raise you a 45-year-old suicide. Go big or go home. Do you want to go home? you sneer. I am clearly wasting your time. And then I’m looking for you everywhere. Running down subway platforms, through thick-bodied trees in a Minnesota forest, so many arms not yours. There is something, so certain there is something, I must say. Your voice echoes in the emptiness: What do you want to tell me? I know if I could just speak the right words you would be happy with me. Happy people, you say, try harder.

"For Soft and Historic Moments" by Jen Rouse


As a hummingbird 

I have been noble,

earthless, bathed

in endless summer 

and pools of sugar.

I have hummed 

all of my best songs

for you. And I don't

sing, so this has taken

great effort. For

soft and historic

moments, these wings

have grazed your cheeks,

rocked into your breath.

I know your powdery

scent and smoky

laughter. I wouldn't

change us. But we

will not return the

same next season.

You have watched

me through all the displays

of darkness and light.

And you have given me 

shelter, nests of

threaded fingers.

Because when no one notices

something ceases to exist,

we were merely small

dancers in the midst.