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. 

sequence (n).

In my mind I lined up all of my past loves
and the procession wrote a story on its own.

There was the dizzy of first love
and the caution of the last,
each countered and
contrasted the
man who came before them.  

There was the man who loved me deeply
and a man who couldn’t help himself
a man whose heart was locked away
and a man who shattered me with insults.
There was a man who woke early
and a man who wrote me letters
and all along
a man
who didn’t know
all of the ways
I loved him.

I think about the woman I have been
and the woman in each of their lenses.
I think about the woman I revealed to them,
in parts, shielding
what I thought they would think
is undesirable
(mostly, this heaviness).  
I think about the woman I contorted into,
the woman who
is fun to have at parties and
has many talents and
will think of gifts to bring your mother.

I think about the men who have loved
or not loved
or tried to love me.
I think
I am someone who knows how to love
but doesn’t know how
to let someone love me.

bard (n).

Tell me a story
about how you came to be.
Tell me
about your joy
quiet in its place
and
your sadness
which I think is
maybe
as great as a lake
but you have learned
to go out to the water
and find peace among
your sorrows that ripple
through the placid glass
the way the singing frogs do.

Tell me the story
about where you were going
when we met, we two
and what it was that
convinced you to
listen to my joy
and carry with me
my sorrow
down to the lake
where we set it free.