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Jennifer Ley: Poems


Founder of the internet literary magazine Riding the Meridian and the award winning hypertext poetry site The Astrophysicist's Tango Partner Speaks, Jennifer Ley's newest work is more often in the field of hypertext and hypermedia. Examples can be found on the web at the April feature and the Valentine Files at the Electronic Poetry Center, in the web journals Cauldron and Net, Framed, The Animist, Snakeskin, and Conspire, and in the trAce anthology: My Millennium. Her web works have been exhibited at Digital Arts and Culture '99, at the Wednesdays at 4 readings series at SUNY-Buffalo, and will be included in the SIGGRAPH 2000 Art Gallery, the Ink.ubation Salon sponsored by the trAce online writing community, and digital conferences planned this year in South Africa and Eastern Europe. A 1998 Pushcart nominee for her text poetry, Jennifer Ley's earlier work has appeared in a wide variety of print publications, both on and off line. A limited edition, paper version of her web work "The Birth of Detachment" is forthcoming from PaperBrain Press in conjunction with its online publication at the Iowa Review Web. She is a founding member of the Internet Literary Editor's Fellowship-- ILEF and a member of the Literary Advisory Committee for the Electronic Literature Organization.



Make sure you are not sleeping

with the enemy, intimacy is best

achieved with strangers, before

you know the true dimensions

of the other, during that brief

period when what you expect

and wish to be reflects off the face

of your beloved like a pale, new moon,

lures you to the lip of the cenote.


How else to make a woman,

usually rational, sure of herself,

contemplate sacrifice? Promise

her immortality, goddesshood,

a life in the lap of the ever-after,

the nameplate of a martyr, for

once she has leapt, there is no egress.

No one will throw her a rope

and the sides of the pit

are too slippery for ascent.



She is married now but has not taken

her husband's name does this mean

she is not his wife? If she gave up her birth name

and sported her husband's would she cease

to be her father's daughter? What's in a name

has been asked and answered in this case


as the lawyers would state if you requested

further clarification, as he who watched

the path of her approach claims now

to name her, stamp her as something he

has discovered. But a name is not the meat

of a thing, can merely mold its flesh for a time.


Think of the planet who thought to be mercurial,

but gazed too long in one direction, found his face

forever locked upon the core. But comets keep

their distance, secure in their orbits,

sure of their eventual direction, back out

into the spawning night and the birthing cloud,

the galaxy on the edge of a universal arm.


At the edge, in the dark, she waits, patiently

rebuilding what was lost on her last solar run,

the spark and thrust of her the same.

By the celestial clock she is ageless. Perhaps

another will seek to name her when she returns,

or perhaps she will seek this time to name herself.



I thought this was the season of the resurrection,

the time when we unwrapped our shrouds and

found new skin, shed the carapace of so many

unoriginal sins. I thought the only stones


were those rolled wide to set the risen free,

not those hurled by other hands, nor rocks

that worked their way into my clutch, cutting

deep. I thought I was supposed to speak


in tongues, bud from bulb in sunny

comprehension. Tomorrow the resurrection

may light my lips and face. But tonight I wait

crouched close to earth, a crocus fearing frost.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 by Jennifer Ley. All rights reserved.

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