The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Jen Karetnick Poetry

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Jen Karetnick

 

Brief Portrait of Millennials as a Nebulizer; Or, There Are Reasons to Breathe

 

Without disruption, without deliberate thought.
Without disconnection like a dropped call
on a highway far away from a cellphone tower.

Without asking permission from the surrounding
environment that weighs on us like parachutes
filled with lead instead of air. Recognize that
the struggle to draw deeply these days, to exhale

fully, does not stem from the asthmatic lungs
of our children’s generation but from ours and the one
that formed these primary organs, inflamed between us.

We can only write a prescription for hope, drop in
the drug. The rest is a matter of pharmaceutical
course: They are the compressor to spirit change,
the mouthpiece to deliver an open-throated, unifying mist.

 

 

Photograph of a Boy and His Dog

 

We chose what looked like the drowsiest one.
Her blue eyes were half-closed in her half mask,
her white paws half-crossed over her snout.
But sleep was a typical alpha deception.

Her blue eyes half-closed in her half mask.
The first thing she did was bite my youngest.
Sleep was a typical alpha deception.
I took the blame as I always did.

The first thing she did was bite my youngest.
The lump in my throat grew like my children.
I took the blame as I always did.
The smaller girl was afraid of dogs.

The lump in my throat grew like my children.
The husky was boisterous like her brother.
The smaller girl was afraid of dogs.
The boy never wanted two sisters.

The husky was boisterous like her brother.
The dog started to steal, guarding objects
with the boy who never wanted two sisters
in dens she created from coffee tables.

The dog started to steal, guarding objects,
defending them as if they were raw meat
in dens she created from coffee tables.
The dog held days like rivals in her teeth.

Defending them as if they were raw meat,
the girl wouldn’t give up her furred slippers.
The dog held days like rivals in her teeth.
Of course, the boy saw the possibilities.

The girl wouldn’t give up her furred slippers.
The dog dragged her down the stairs by her feet.
Of course, the boy saw the possibilities.
He began to feed the dog her possessions.

The dog dragged her down the stairs by her feet.
It was tough to tell who laughed, who howled.
He began to feed the dog her possessions.
Only smiles dripped from their open mouths.

It was tough to tell who laughed, who howled.
Her white paws were half-crossed over her snout.
Only smiles dripped from their open mouths.
We chose what looked like the drowsiest one.


The winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition for The Crossing Over (May 2019), Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length poetry collections, including The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. Her work appears recently or is forthcoming in The Hamilton Stone Review, JAMA, Lunch Ticket, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, Ovenbird, Salamander, and Tampa Review. She is co-founder/co-editor of the daily online literary journal, SWWIM Every Day. Please see more at jkaretnick.com.

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