altar (n).

I bring you my day's last thoughts
I bring you what was said and how I felt
I bring you all of the strangers I observed
I bring you each moment you would find
charming, or maddening, both I bring to you.

I bring you my day's last wonderings, like
what could happen next and where
we could go and why the world is
like it is and maybe also what
next I should attempt to cook. 

I bring you in the evening my body
I bring myself close to you, I bring you
my doubts and judgments of my soft build
I bring these with a gentle offering
to make safe the altar for you to also
bring your self, safely, to me. 

trench (n).

I promise if you
open your eyes and
turn to face the world
beauty will meet you, even
yes, in all of the pain, even
in all of the disappointment, even
in all of the people and their stories, even
in all of the ways it feels like tomorrow
could be the day the world ends, even
there.

I promise if you
open your eyes and
turn to face the world
I will slip my hand in yours
I will walk you slowly down
to the water where we all join
to greet the nightfall. 

offering (n).

To my mother, who always knows
the heavy days from the light ones
when to call, how to comfort -

to my mother, who always sees
humour as I do, and the best in all, 
what is important, what is true -

to my mother, who always feels
deeply into the river that runs through
her warrior heart, full of hope:

you are to me what makes the world
make sense.
You are to me all at once the force
that settles and sends me. 
You are to me all of the beautiful
and strong things. 

circadian (adj).

I will show you what rising looks like;
I have studied each morning when
I wake before the daytime,
when I wake, sometimes, before
friends near the pacific
have even said goodnight.

I have taken note and have seen
the way the light comes to us
in arch and swinging, on time and
without worry of filling too much space,
and so in this way I have learned to rise.

With the sun I rise in these ways:
hot to touch, blistering if not warned,
pouring in like I pour honey
heavy and golden
into this morning’s tea -

here I learned to rise,
heart full and heart swoon
gathering my lover’s hands in mine -
here, let me warm you -
I will fill our room with light
when all else feels too grim
to open wide our eyes.

contusion (n).

I treat your heart like a bruise -
I run my thumb over it
softly, like it is
purple and black, like
you somehow dropped it
when not looking where
you were landing your steps. 

Of your heart, like a bruise, I ask, 
"how did this come to be?"And,
"does it still hurt, does it hurt you,
when I press you, even softly,
when I bring my arm to your arm
and ask you to stand?" 

mooring (n).

I wait for myself in my wandering;
there are days that I wake that
I feel like I have left myself
out in a roaring sea.

Who was it that thought me
some great sailor, or
a siren who sings to soften
shaky tides and heavy storms?

Who placed me in this tide, this
rise and fall, and rise again,
torn away from rock and boulder
stretched out across inky waters
that house beasts and tales
of great men lost
to their dreams of new beginnings?

Who wrote this verse, the anthology
that chronicles voyages of wading,
and then waiting
to recognize the woman
who has returned home
after so long away?

There are days that I wake that
I feel like I have come home to myself
after lifetimes of crossing salted water;
what relief to see
myself after so much time.

What relief to see
I have not left, I was not gone
I did not lose myself, I was not
missing, I was not vacant.

I was only just
as the swallows are,
in flight without fleeing
in union with air and expanse
in song as I dance
ahead of hurricane, below
glass skies, beside
sailors as they make their way
back to their place of belonging.

anticipate (v).

Would it have hurt less
if I hadn't seen it coming
like a train sideswiping
and with no time to brace?

I saw you coming
like a heavy august storm -
an army of bouldering clouds advancing
steady towards the harbour

and still
I stood
in sand.

I did not find shelter
I did not lock windows or doors
I did not go to the storehouse
I did not, as you asked, 
mind mast and anchor
and keep myself at shore. 

Posted on May 6, 2017 and filed under the word project-.

oh hey there, celebratory giveaway.

As a thank you for following along with the #aprilwordproject, 
I'm giving away a poem to two people about whatever they want!
Here's how to enter:

ON INSTAGRAM:  just tag a friend on any of the
#aprilwordproject poems, that's it!

ON FACEBOOK / TWITTER: go to visitjessjanz.com and pick your favourite
#aprilwordproject poem and share it to your facebook or twitter page and
MAKE SURE YOU TAG ME so I can see that you've entered! 

I'll be doing the draw on Tuesday night! 
Thank you all for cheering me on during the #aprilwordproject!
xo jess. 

pour (v).

it has been easy to love you and also
not easy to love you; it is like
all of the kinds of rain, how
each kind tells a different story
that might not feel like the time
to hear it. 

it is like the kind of rain that
arrives in the middle of the night
keeping me from sleep and
getting my attention,

and also the kind of rain that
beads off of the ocean like mist
making our hair fuzzy and
the sand ideal for building into shapes, 

it is at times the kind of rain that
feels like the sky is bellowing
all at once all of her sorrows
unable to find some lake to fill so
she pours down on our rooftops. 

it is easy to love you and also
not easy to love you; it is like
all of the kinds of rain, how
it soaks through all of our clothing
and we show up for dinner with
enough water to float a boat
in our shoes but
tomorrow we will wake up
with a greater garden
in a plot we thought
was made of rocks and sand. 

sapling (n).

This is us as trees: 
I want dearly
to be mighty with
confidence in my
place and gentle in my response
to what gusts may come. 

You are made of oak
and earth with
branches dipped low
for easy footholds for
the child in you
if you'd invite him to play. 

And, planted by the riverbank, 
we just now see that
our roots can reach the water
and in spring it shows
in our budding canopies
the work we've done
to keep ourselves alive
during this winter. 

nearly (adv).

we were almost happy, we
were happy when
we were almost friends
but not friends because
we were almost lovers.

I was almost proud of us
when we were almost fine
to be near each other and
not bring our hands to meet
(just nearly)
but then I was almost sad
when you were almost satisfied
with going home alone so
I almost went with you
but I am almost always
left wanting for you to say
what you almost said
but definitely didn't say. 

cache (n).

how strange that
we run out of
kisses for someone's
face, shoulders, hands
and without knowing
when it will go from
this thing we do -
to place our lips
on each other's skin -
to this thing that
we think about
alone at night.

Sometimes I run my fingers
over the place on my wrist
you liked to kiss in the
quiet moments like after
dinner or when I asked you
a question that made you
feel too much;
here where there is
a river of veins
blue from the blood
held inside. 

embrace (v).

I won't hug you anymore
because
I am holding myself in
and holding myself back
because you could hold me
but you won't hold
my heart; you
avoid it like
one avoids
reaching for
a cast iron pan
straight off of the stove. 

I won't hug you
and you won't reach for me
so we don't hug
but you hold me
in the palm of your hand. 

courier (n).

sometimes in the morning
I whisper your name
to feel the letters
leave my lips. 
I whisper your name
wondering if there is
some portal
some spring wind
that could carry the sound
(so faint but round in hope)
past borders and boundaries
to reach you in time
for your morning commute. 

Posted on April 22, 2017 and filed under the word project-.

tabernacle (n).

I didn't trust your love for me because
you loved me before you knew me. 

I could tell you loved
my drastic hand gestures and
took joy in the rambling stories
late as we laid before sleep. 

I could tell you loved
how I carried myself while
ordering coffee or
talking to a stranger. 

You loved me before you knew
the days that I can fold into myself
so far away that it will hurt you
the days I will need to be gone from myself
the days I need stillness and silence. 

I could feel you writing a character for me
and filling in the blanks (blank spots and
blank stares)
I could feel you loving me without
knowing my innermost parts. 

I will know he loves me
when I retreat into myself
in the tavern of my loneliness
and he is there
making the bed
and putting the kettle on. 

primordial (adj).

You explained to me
the way the primal male mind works. 
We were at a bar so you explained
and pointed out
the varying height and breast size
of each woman walking behind me,
how the redhead had alluring crooked
teeth and
the bartender had the lowest cut shirt. 
You noticed that our server's heels were lower
than any other co-workers heels
(I noted silently that
the shoes I wear
to do the same job
are a lower height
than hers). 
There was a woman
whose curves pleased you
and a woman
whose arms were
tattooed more than mine. 

You explained to me, 
"men have been trained to hunt
and women have been trained
to wait to be noticed."

I do not
want to be like some gazelle
elegant and silent, waiting
I do not welcome
my next thought: please notice
the woman sitting in front of you. 

I want to be made of gold
I want to be made of metal
I want to be some treasure
so precious
that you could make a ring
out of my very being. 

accountable (adj).

I just think we should be preparing ourselves. 
We should be ready because
in two years or
maybe four or in a decade
(however long it takes to
come to our senses)
I know, I am certain
that those who come next
are going to ask the
question we are not
going to enjoy answering. 

Those that come next will ask
"how did this happen?"
and, "how did you allow this?"
and this is what they will be referencing:

our water: not a resource but the source of life
our neighbors: not strangers but our kin
our fatherless: not criminals but the unmentored
our poor: not lazy but victims of the system that oppresses
                them - make no mistake, the system isn't broken, 
                it is alive and well. 
our homeless: up-to-and-including those without a country
                to return to
our women: still marching. still. 
               still. 
our planet: it is tired and buckling and we keep asking for
               more. we are making deserts of our forests. 

Make no mistake. All of these are OURS. 

On another day we will have to
respond to our transgressions of
inaction but now is the time
now
to say
this is not okay with me
not in my world
not in my time.