Five Poems

by Christine Garren

storySouth is pleased to present five new poems by Christine Garren: “Message 41,” “Piñata,” “The Woven Message,” “The Given Message,” and “The Jeweled Message.” We also present in this issue An Interview with Christine Garren by associate poetry editor Terry Kennedy.

Christine Garren is the author of the poetry collections Afterworld and Among the Monarchs. Her latest collection is The Piercing, published in 2006 in the Southern Messenger Poets series from Louisiana State University Press. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist and NEA Fellowship recipient, she was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, since 1979.

Message 41

this is my death chamber

the leaves—gas walls, green and thick—

the valves let in

the vapors’ chemicals—

the witnesses are

the birds—

if it is day, I hope the wind is up

if it is night, the moon’s yellow knuckle


a black callus—

this is my death chamber—the passion that brought me to it



Brief yet amaranthine,

what’s left is this

wreckage everywhere—torn valves and surgeries

broken bank accounts, whole rooms pressed

into a landfill, the churches where we went, those programs

left. And now, next door, the neighbor’s daughter

has a party every August

as her mother did. This year the strung-up animal is a donkey

being beaten

in the elms.

The Woven Message

come hide near me

I’ll count however long I need to count the insects in the web—

I like

the still living ones—that beat of wing I hear


the still turned-on

ignition of the firefly—I see one’s underbelly


on and off—come hide near me, somewhere in this wild grove, in its umbra green


my mind turns down the bed

The Given Message

this is the passion of leaving—the calm, inner—

there are no goodbyes, just freedom

I do not hear music other than the wind—I do not hear

God’s owl—

my life un-draws itself


dumb—the ash leaf is

my skeleton—

who is there—one finds no one, not God, not relative—and yet everywhere

the door, the stain of day, the barge-like movement of a cloud

The Jeweled Message

the day is a jewel—its air is green and blue—it shimmers

a diamond broach—I feel its needle

stab me

while I talk about the mind’s heights and steep

descents—so sudden

the fall is—

elevator like—the dark glistening cables, the smell

of black grease—these cliffs are like the mind’s


I navigate—

they have the birds of evening in their halls