A Poem by Dorine Jennette

What to Say


Wagon is the worst word,

for it carts what we call the “remains.”

Red heels over the side

like an enthusiasm of corn.

The scene of the crime lashed

tight to its bed, the wagon greets and greets.

We swallow her cries like handfuls of earth.


A “cut up,” one is called,

when placing evidence

just-so atop ambrosia salads,

having surprised the guests already

by escaping from the old man in the den.

Should one look sly forking over the ham,

one is called by the old folks a “wag.”


He is “way gone,”

we say of the brother or uncle

who finds our company

so intolerable

that he would rather

snort cocaine off of anything—

breasts, the ice-rimed hood

of his car—you name it.


Dorine Jennette’s poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in journals such as Verse Daily, Puerto del Sol, the Journal, Ninth Letter, Coconut, Court Green, the Los Angeles Review, the New Orleans Review, and the Georgia Review. Originally from Seattle, she earned her MFA from New Mexico State University and her PhD from the University of Georgia. She lives in Suisun City, California.