Author: Jennifer Sweeney

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of How to Live on Bread and Music, winner of the 2009 James Laughlin Award and the Perugia Press Prize, and also Salt Memory, which received the Main Street Rag Poetry Award. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her poems have appeared in Southern Review, Spoon River, Crab Orchard, Passages North, Hunger Mountain and elsewhere. She currently serves as assistant editor for DMQ Review and lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Preface & Old Town Square


You could say heavy as an elephant
but not to the elephant
whose thunder is a lean O
as her speed makes a wind
across the diehard plain
and the flags of her ears
undulate and slap
like rockweed
against the tide—
but not to the rockweed
whose undulations depend
on the long note of sleep
that makes the sea,
those flickering silhouettes
knee-deep in moon-shavings
who know nothing of elephants.

Old Town Square

Death shakes his hourglass at noon.
The cobblestone maze sways with accents.

I lose direction.
Lightning threads the sky,

a sea of marionettes float in slow motion.
Hollow limbs rooted to tiny strings

and those heavy sleeping heads
condemned to a smile or frown.

Voices wash over,
words I will never understand.

An anonymous love swells and empties
for everything I do not know.

A string tugs memory, wrist.
My story keeps me treading the same air.