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Jeannine Hall Gailey – In the In-Between

P Jeannine Hall Gailey LE P&W Vol 2 2019

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Poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She’s also the author of PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing. Her work appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.


In the In-Between

between summer and fall,
between dead and alive,
drifting as easy as an old Paul Simon
song under the haunted Harvest moon.

My therapist asks, are you thinking about suicide,
and I said, well, not right this second. I was joking.
Some days all your rose petals fall,
and you sleep eleven hours a day.

End of September, the blue deliphinium
is bluer than the somber sky, such a surprise.
Like this: you will expect nothing,
and then you’ll get the diagnosis, the punchline,

the resolution. I’ve never been one of those people
who considers the journey the best part of the trip.
I hate the journey. It’s long and boring and I’m
always parked next to someone taking the arm rest

or coughing all flight long. There is apathy
in the change of seasons, in the season where
you are no longer young but not yet too old.
You are an apple on the tree, not ready to fall, yet.

The late nights resolve with a weak sunrise,
fog on the windows. I’m not ready to die
but can’t quite put myself back into the line
of fire, get myself in the game of life.

The sky is bare and the scattering birds
aren’t any bird in particular, not sparrows or starlings,
just the flash of movement in the dark branches.
In the moments of in-between, even living

can feel like a chore. Don’t be bashful. You know
you are one more cup of hot coffee, a shower,
a walk under that moon, a guitar riff, a book,
a check in the mail, a day without pain, away from finished.

October, and I Reschedule Another Cancer Test

The thin sun comes through the clouds occasionally,
enough to make you miss the rain.

I’ve put off yet another test I’m required to get
to check my body for disease. For cancer,

the sneaky thief. They’re monitoring. Me,
I’m watching the slow dissolution of my dahlias,

the way my maples turn from red to black.
Autumn here always feels fleeting – the dark

of winter creeps in too soon. So I am staying vigilant
for losses, for anything untoward. I’m watching the yellow

Hunter’s moon wink between clouds. I can smell
smoke and decay. It is beautiful. I don’t want

to know anymore about the decay in my own body.
Let me escape into this cold air, the cry of blackbirds.


© Jeannine Hall Gailey