What We Did Instead, by Jennifer Boyden

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 21

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

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What We Did Instead

by Jennifer Boyden

 I have a theory about my husband’s penis,
 which is
                   that if we had installed a device
 under our bed and programmed it to a thrust-
 activated movement sensor to trigger a voice
 which cried “war, war, war”—if we’d done
 that ten years ago, we wouldn’t have
 our daughter now.
 My husband, who has one heart that shines
 on the table of all possible hearts,
 would have had to fold up his penis
 and put it away until the sensor broke
 or we forced ourselves to pretend
 that the word war was just another word
 for shake your ass, or hold it there, or next time 
 let’s eat chicken with our fingers while we do this,
 or perhaps a word for boring sexy.
                                    I noticed in the paper
 how the runway models were thin again
 and blackeyed in clothing that wouldn’t get stolen
 in a refugee camp. I think it means something
 that lately when I put on my shoes
 I think: do these work
 for fleeing a homeland? / How easy would it be
 to steal them off my exhausted feet?
 Lately, my boots lace to the knees.
 When she was three my daughter asked me
 if she would ever know war in her heart.
 That was about four years after we didn’t install
 the sensor machine.
                    What we did instead
 was go to Minnesota in the middle of winter
 where it was so cold the fish we pulled up
 through the ice holes
                    were green logs with eyes.
 We cut them open and threw their guts at winter
 where the birds ate them. We were there
 to visit my family, all just in from the frozen lake
 of the blue-green fish,
 and I was a few beers down with an egg
 on its way and for a moment as I stood
 with my husband among my people who were
 breading the fish and humming and slapping
 their legs by the fire, there was
 no war anywhere. I mean this is what we had
 at that moment:
                  food, fire, a game
 on the wood table where people pressed
 buzzers and flipped the timer, laughing. We turned away
 to head upstairs to the room we shared.
 We closed the door. We lay down
 where no one had thought to install the machine,
 and we made one child and later had to open her
 slowly so the world could enter bit by bit,
 and the world was sharp where she was best.
 The retail index reveals there is something sexy
 about how the models are nearly dead with hunger.
 In our bed, we read books and hear
 a voice that, if we turn our heads properly,
 sounds like it’s calling us to sleep.
  

About Jennifer Boyden

Jennifer Boyden’s new book, The Declarable Future (winner of the Four Lakes Poetry Prize), was just released by University of Wisconsin Press. Her previous collection, The Mouths of Grazing Things, won the Brittingham Prize for Poetry in 2010. She recently returned from a year of teaching creative writing and ecopoetry at Soochow University in China. Boyden is a poet, teacher, and current writer-in-residence at Grass Mountain in Oregon. Her work has been recognized with the PEN Northwest Wilderness Writing Award, an Artists Trust Grant, and can be found in a variety of literary journals.

Check out her website here.

 

 

 February Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

Richard Krawiec, Writing for Peace AdviserWriting for Peace Welcomes Richard Krawiec to our Advisory Panel

Richard Krawiec is the founder of Jacar Press, A Community active Press dedicated to paying writers and working in under-served communities and has worked extensively with people in homeless shelters, women’s shelters, prisons, literacy classes, and community sites, teaching writing.  Richard’s second book of poems, She Hands me the Razor, (title poem nominated for a Pushcart Prize) was published by Press 53. It was one of 17 finalists for a SIBA Award.

To learn more about Richard Krawiec, check out his page here.

2013 Young Writers Contest

Contest Deadline is March 1st! The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

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One Response to What We Did Instead, by Jennifer Boyden

  1. Dean Metcalf says:

    I just read Jennifer Boyden’s story, “What We Did Instead.” It knocked me down: a beautiful story, exquisitely told. Simple, strong, clear. Thanks to Jennifer, and to PAW!

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