Jane Alynn is a poet, essayist, and fine art photographer. Originally from Portland, Oregon, she has lived many places, including New York City, Okinawa, and San Diego, before returning to her beloved Northwest, making Seattle her home. During the decades she spent as a psychotherapist, she also led Creative Vision workshops for photographers in Seattle, in Canada, and in the Southwest. After retiring from her therapy practice, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Antioch Los Angeles and moved to Anacortes, Washington, where she currently lives with her husband and two cats. Alynn is the author of two collections of poems: Necessity of Flight (Cherry Grove, 2011) and a chapbook, Threads & Dust (Finishing Line Press, 2005). She has been the recipient of a William Stafford Award from Washington Poets Association (2004), and her poems have appeared in numerous journals, such as Calyx, Floating Bridge Review, The Pacific Review, Quercus Review, Manorborn, Snowy Egret, StringTown, and Switched-on Gutenberg, as well as in many anthologies, including A Chaos of Angels. Recently, her poems, written in collaboration with visual artists, have been exhibited in galleries. 

 

Small Gods

Sitting outdoors at the neighborhood café,
pen in hand, I scratch on paper
like a bird in winter, trying
to scrape up something to feed that dire hunger,
the burning emptiness from being
unable to find words for so long now.
The mind a mere immensity of nothing.
And breath shallow as the dying.
Then from the gutter a sparrow
drops to my feet, puffed up, beak going
cheep cheep, cheeping loudly for crumbs,
a small fit welled up from emptiness.
Something settles with this divine, adaptive song.
And for a little while, at least, she renews my faith
in a life of radiant poverty.

 

Teaching My Bird to Talk, First Lessons

Ten years old, a bright yellow budgie perched
on my finger, outside of her wire cage.
She’s ruffled her feathers as if refreshing herself
before flight. I’m still in my robe.
Here, in her element, this figure of sunlight
would nudge the shoulders
of morning with warbles, whistles and excited
chirping noises, delivering, like daily matins,
her repertoire of heavenly twittering.
But I wanted my bird to talk, as if
words themselves could offer more light.
And for this, psychology gave us conditioning.
With the utmost patience, I’d scratch
her neck and speak in a low voice,
repeat the phrases over and over again
of pretty girl, I love you, holding her
ever closer to my mouth, each sputter
rewarded with a kiss.
She’d tilt her head from side to side
with that puzzled look of expectation,
infinitely receptive, I thought,
to this uncommon tongue.
I closed my eyes, waiting, in that space
held open for words, forever falling
for the all-too-often urge to modify
what’s natural and perfect, the blunder
of unearned godliness.
All the while it was she who had
the already sharpened beak, her craw filled
with that first ineffable light.

 

Chuckanut Drive, in Winter

I go slow
along this road
to see things clearly.

A resident eagle
this evening
soars silently
in circles, her eyes
on the bay below.

Long, sharpened shadows
drape rock shoulders
that bear
in their element
life and death.

I like to park there
where palm-frond fossils
are caught like breath
in the old stone
amid fountains of ferns.

A torrent of leaves fell last week.
Maples and alders, freshly claimed,
add to the sweet odor of rot,
those already turning
to the matter of rebirth.

On days of heavy rain
boulders let go.
It’s a fearful thing, not knowing
the dead-fall of the next one.
I wish me luck and keep going.

 

Jane Alynn at Moonday East Poetry

 

 

 

 

2012 Jane Alynn


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