Jenny Browne

The password is still bird, folded wings unfurling against the damp
           inside of your mouth.

Open up in there.

I won’t speak of the last time I was sure
that wasn’t your voice

           on the sputtering phone; I’ve been
in the hospital since the last time you

said don’t look down is what you said.

The songs in the background were always heavy
on strings. In bluegrass there’s only one microphone.
(Can we at least agree
if they have to ask who’s that on harmony, it’s not
Emmylou Harris?)
Some versions of the best tunes are done
with a lost man’s voice filling the room.

I’ve got two more bottles of wine
so even if I pass no one
           the salt and pepper, I always hold them


This distance could be measured in states, countries, languages
famous for their misunderstandings.

I don’t know any more tricks. Not the woman
           sawed in half, not the voice calling

Pick a hand, any hand.


Jenny Browne is the author of Glass (Pecan Grove 2000) and At Once
(University of Tampa, 2003). Her poems and essays have recently been
published or are forthcoming in The Hat, 32 Poems, and Fourth Genre.
They can also be found online at No Tell Motel, Poets in Their Thirties
and, a site of poems dedicated to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently, she is a James Michener Fellow at the University of Texas in Austin


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