ABOUT JEANNE EMMONS

Jeanne Emmons was born in Louisiana and grew up in Beaumont, Texas. She received her Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Texas. She teaches English and writing at Briar Cliff University and is poetry editor of The Briar Cliff Review. Her poetry collection, Rootbound (New Rivers Press 1998) won the Minnesota Voices Project Competition in 1996 and was subsequently named for a Pippistrelle Best of the Small Press Award. Her poetry has won competitions sponsored by Iowa Woman (1991), South Coast Poetry Journal (1994) and Sow's Ear Poetry Review (2002), and her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous literary journals, inculding Prairie Schooner, Confrontationm New Orleans Review, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, American Scholar and Cream City Review. She and her husband, Adam Frisch, have two children and live in Sioux City, Iowa.

Pecan Grove Press

Baseball Nights and DDT
Jeanne Emmons

ISBN: 1-931247-26-9 $12.50

“In Jeanne Emmons’ moving poems, the body is not an urn holding memory; it is the spirit that keeps the past alive. Baseball Nights and DDT is peopled with ghosts of an academic father who built a boat that sank and a college friend who spilled grape juice on Emmons’ favorite white wool dress. After bringing them to life on the page, she sails them back into the night, always returning to death as the ultimate state of aloneness. In an attempt to glue together the shards of her life by placing them in the world’s wider context, Emmons details a history containing a great-grandmother who had a personal slave and department stores with drinking fountains that were labeled white and colored. In spite of kin, personal connections, she reminds us that even though there is the human need for love, we are left with our yearning, mired in lives where parallel edges never meet. Consolation, found in collages of the physical world, is celebrated by Emmons in lush poems that look closely at nature where nothing alive is alien. What other poet would refer to a rattlesnake as a poor thing? Emmons has an eye for the significance in a story, the language to embody it and the vision to lead us to compassion for subjects as diverse as Susan Smith, the suicide victims of Heaven’s Gate, Medusa, Penelope, Bathsheba and David. Sorting a way through her own complexities, knowing the heart never forgets, Emmons does not deny what must be explored to discover the whole person. There is wisdom here, but it is hard-won.” —Vivian Shipley

Father on the Phone, as Lear

And now, Father, your voice drifts (falsetto)
through the phone, wavering, after all
those opinionated years. And now

your declarations are cut adrift midsentence
and founder beneath understanding. Your brilliance
and your bite is perplexed, dulls and loosens.

Yet you are, to me, exalted, the way
the branches of a tree recover height
after the fruit is harvested or fallen.

We fought and wrangled, and we were
both right always. So now we come to this
time where right and wrong and praise and blame

do not apply. We come to the shuffling
of your feet across the living room carpet,
the lean and lift of your walker, the backward

nudge of your calves against the chair you
collapse into, this confusion on the phone.
There is no question of the man at the center

of all this slackness still being you,
like a ridgepole from which all the flapping
fabric hangs. You were unbending, yes,

hot-headed, blind, full of conceit,
but a thing to be glad of in a rainstorm,
something to hold high and not let fall.

 

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