for my sister (Hep C Series)


Just as they have aged,

seven days within the vase,


Just as yellow turns

onto itself

to view the summer’s

guttural dreams,


And red has let loose

its fiery skill,

turning heart’s layers

to flames and film,


They now curl up

as most delicate friends,

or fingertips brushing

within a woman’s drawers

against that which lives

clung to skin,


Or the fine

dust layering a crystal

bowl left for weeks,

then months, then years,

within a womb of mahogany.


They all speak

quietly within the room,

of riotous life

and boisterous boom,

of raucous youth and blooming

almost off the stem.


So hard it was

to be contained.


So now, dear sisters,

let me near

to see grace swirl,

then rest

into a withered edge,


How its deepening

bends each head

on stem,

how green thrusts summer

against each bloom,

then dances, childlike

in the air.


I’ll stay, I promise,

as each petal turns

into closed hands

and prays for sleep,

so soft, so real,


Forgets all form

before this.


POEM 2014

There is no escaping—

wine glass

shot glass



You walk down the hall
to the chair

to the door

to the chair

to the bed

eat some fruit

glass of wine



Birds are cackling

giddy beaks

rays of late

it is spring

a plane-

like bird

flight unseen

only heard

blue sets its hem

fading silk

along the seam

of the hill.


Legs up now

bent at knee

rocking back

to the heart

and then forth

the one pump

that can keep you

in place.


A ticking like the lost

owl in the pine

every night

every hour

sending blips

desperate search

for a mate.


You cannot be contained

nor released

cocktail glass


tongue now numb

house asleep.


Find a pen

then poem.


by Jean C. Howard

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, performance poet Jean Howard resided in Chicago from 1979 to 1999. She has since returned to Salt Lake City. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Off The Coast, Clackamas Literary Review, Harper’s Magazine, Eclectica Magazine, Eclipse, Atlanta Review, Folio, Forge, Fugue, Fulcrum, Crucible, Gargoyle, Gemini Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Painted Bride Quarterly, decomP, The Tower Journal, Minetta Review, The Burning World, The Distillery, The Oklahoma Review, Pinch, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Penmen Review, Pisgah Review, ken*again, Chronogram, The Cape Rock, Quiddity Literary Journal, Grasslimb, Rattlesnake Review, Concho River Review, Spillway, Spoon River Review, Verdad, Wild Violet, Willard & Maple, Wisconsin Review, Word Riot, and The Chicago Tribune, among seventy other literary publications. Featured on network and public television and radio, she has combined her poetry with theater, art, dance, video, and photography. A participant in the original development of the nationally acclaimed “Poetry Slam” at the Green Mill, she has been awarded two grants for the publication of her book, Dancing In Your Mother’s Skin (Tia Chucha Press), a collaborative work with photographer, Alice Hargrave. She has been organizing the annual National Poetry Video Festival since 1992, with her own award-winning video poems, airing on PBS, cable TV, and festivals around the nation.

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