Jenna Cardinale



From Journals 


Lips apply the lightest— Shelter

the soft— Close as hidden—


The margin half-hidden—

The sidelines chewing—

Left to get—


Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art 36





Churches are worn

down to agree—


Chameleons white—


Fossils still

to be—


An egg

I would rock—


Good Foot 4





The bride smells complete— A field

under a fence— Straight through

into empty— Time

that whole inch— Carried

up to her



Me then








I’ve been a

two- Continents

fumbling— Math

in this— A tongue’s

constant— Is this



A typo in—







The long approach— Toy

cigarette girl actually

pretending— The artificial



The devil just walked—


Pom2 1





From Breaks



A Guffaw Follows This


I emptied my apartment of him. Now,

chest out, all of the mail comes for me. I

hear the thin click of thick needles. The how

of knitting’s not hard. But the why. I try

to knot up what’s passed. We were once able

to maintain an even tension. I know

I’ll open his letter easy, cable

stitch something in it. I keep the heat low,

layered in new sweaters. He’s living on

an island full of rain and bright paper

umbrellas. But cabernet sauvignon

is his favorite water or vapor.

I am learning to crochet, to make use

of the art of one implement. Stamp. Truce.






I told her to devote a lot of time

to losing Long Island. I told her to

rearrange the furniture, try to mime

each of our rented rooms. I told her to

dust objects in order to know them well.

I told her to be something like precise,

to shop carefully, to take the hard sell.

I told her to sift through the long-grained rice.

I told her to keep her lips wrapped around

a candy cigarette. I told her I

couldn’t stand the smell of smoke or burned ground.

I told her to do something about my

hidden dinosaur. I told her to make

herself sober, to dance, to smile, to shake.




She Goes Finally, Gone


He’s sadder than leftover buttons or

pie. He sees he’s an unwanted circle

or just a piece of one. What is it for,

this doctor’s visit. It’s historical,

he thinks, or a reminder. His girlfriend

had pale pieces of hair. She always wore

a single hurt color. He can’t defend

her actions. He ignored them, shut the door

each time she left. He preferred watching her

with his glasses off. It’s not the framing

of her that offended him, but the grr

of her face. He wasn’t used to taming

creatures, so it’s now terrible for him.

Like any good silence. Sharp, quiet, dim.




A Storm Quickly Becomes a Depression


Still, she feels like a dog left outdoors in

a hurricane. Their arguments carry

their own aftershocks. The salt on her chin

tastes like a memory she must marry

each night. Daffodils are, in every kind

of weather, the most faithful of flowers.

He often brought them to her. He would bind

the stems with jewelry. Outside she cowers

in the rain. Ugly— a fresh chicken out

of its egg. She suggests they start over

separately. But she’s been soaked in doubt.

And then he hands her something green— clover

bunched by red string. She promises not to

put her shoes where he sits. Her sky’s bright, blue.




The Past as Possible


He argues that more people were alive

at that time, but she knows he doesn’t know

what he is saying. He’d wanted to drive

as far from the past as possible, show

her that most things shouldn’t be just one thing.

His teeth slide behind the clasp of his lips.

He shaved early this morning. He won’t sing

on this car trip. At the hotel he tips

generously, but feels the need to skip

the elevator operator who

looks at her legs, appears eager to trip

him up. She unpacks, polishes one shoe.

He wants her shining eccentricity,

remembers fucking her, wants it gritty.