Alarie Tennille, Two Poems


You deserve a morning person,
someone who bounces out of bed
like, well…you know how you do.

I can’t even look at your shiny
morning face without seeing
my sheet wrinkles, bed head,

and pre-coffee frown. I need to ease
into day with Debussy.  You’re
the cymbals in a Sousa march.

I’m the cat in a You Tube video
who falls off the counter
when you erupt.




Let’s jump right into this. Please
take out some paper and write
a jellyfish.

You mean a poem? asks Ms. Front
of the Class. No, I never confuse
a jellyfish with a poem. Do you?

I mean make me see, feel, want
to be a jellyfish. Say I’m an alien
from Planet Xanax

or someone who’s always lived
in the mountains of Tibet. Introduce
me to your jellyfish.

Maybe you can tell me why it’s easy
to tell a jellyfish from a poem –
or why is that hard?

Because you can see through
a jellyfish to what lies behind it,
suggests Mr. Loves to Talk. Like

in a poem, he adds. They move
like they were spilled into the ocean,
suggests another guy in the back.

Ms. Worried says, I’ve never seen
a jellyfish. ­ You’re lucky, I say.
You can write the confessions

of an imaginary jellyfish. While talking,
my eyes go to the girl in the red cashmere
sweater and the guy who just rolled

out of bed. Both are writing furiously,
already out to deep sea,
not looking back.

Author’s Comment: For decades, I’ve owned a white toaster to blend with my white kitchen. Unfortunately, the last one I bought was a piece of junk. I complained about it to a friend. He had just bought a new, top-of-the-line toaster and gave me his old one. I marveled at the mirrored finish, like all the toasters of my childhood. However, I did not enjoy seeing my aging, night owl face in the mornings. One of the Crafty Poet handbooks by Diane Lockward suggested writing a letter to an inanimate object, and my shiny toaster leaped to mind. I’m less sure where “Poetry 101” came from. I’ve only taught one poetry workshop, but I’ve been homesick for the ocean for more than thirty years. I think I had just watched a short video on jellyfish and how they propel themselves. The workshop teacher’s voice allowed me to be more assertive than I would ever be with a class.


Bio: Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri. Alarie’s newest poetry collection is Waking on the Moon (Kelsay Books, 2017).


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