What She Wants to Tell You


There are three things that might save you
Her voice in smoky alto whisper
Her arms stretched, a jurassic wing span,
in a flicker flight of lightning—
and there are three things that won’t.
(Insert here a strain of sinister laughter
or three kisses on the top of your head.)
Now make your way home.

I sit on a weeping hill in the rain.  I sit beside a sick bed in complete silence.

I look out onto the orchard.  I gather all my strength like apples in a bucket.
This bucket has a small hole, imperceptible             and the apples look serene
to anyone who passes.            A soul slips through
like liquid silver.        I cup the liquid in thick fingers tight
hand                                        Each time something else evaporates
I’m guessing at least one of the three things
I need to show you
is gone

There is silver all over my hands and I am opening them to show how hard I’m trying

And when I do this, when I would
announce I have the answer
my mouth, so desirous,
so eager, is flooded






Letter to Little Hummingbird


Her grandmother of the
ruby throat and tiny slippers,
of the summer fly swatters
and iced tea in thin
snifters   — she taught her
the magic of moveable beasts:

Dear Hummingbird Girl,
                Nowhere is always near
and you command 
the air, my dear.
She laughed in pale pinks
and swore in pirate sonnets.

This is your cake and
the winking typewriter.         Mind the Ps,
they stick like Qs,
the sonsabitches,      but they
will do well by you.

And as for your head,

when it passes to you,
it will hold the scent
of Shalimar and
all my secrets.
Like how to cheat
at crosswords and
reassemble your sanity
with sugar cubes
and the gentle hand of a good woman.
Let her lead you.

Each sequin is a song 

and mind your speed 
on icy nights.  And never let
your head fly off. Make each
choice yourself, and remember
I was made to love you.










Jen Rouse works as a consulting librarian at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA. She is a poet, teacher, mother, and artist. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, and Trapeze, among others, and she has recently contributed a short prose piece to the Imaginary Family Project. For kicks, she writes a food blog–White Cake * White Frosting.

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3 Responses to Two Poems by Jen Rouse

  1. Carol Rice says:


  2. “…mind your speed/ on icy nights. and never let/ your head fly off.”

    A couple marvelous lines that must find it difficult to stand out amid such fine, fine work. Salute!

  3. Jen Rouse says:

    Thanks for the kind words!

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