Stumble over nothing; walk into glass
doors nose-first so that it leaves
a mark like a zit too deeply rooted
to pick; talk to yourself as you skip
the cracks on sidewalks. Sing
in the passenger seat of the car
and chair-dance to music only you
can hear. It’s easy to be awkward,
because really, aren’t we all? Still,
public wrist-slitting requires a commitment
as fierce as the unrequited love
you have for the wrong vehicle.
Take Tri-Rail to work
and snore through your stop.
Fart wetly on the Metro and don’t
deny it. Enjoy infinitum at corrugated
bus stops because it gives you more time
to read the latest novel about zombies
who eat people’s faces, and imagine yourself
the author, on tour with an entourage
of speculative characters who sway
when you sway, inhale the same
acrimonious air, and jerk to a stop
only at the stuttering shrieks born
from the hook of your upraised fist.

Jen Karetnick is the author of the chapbooks Necessary Salt (Pudding House Publications, 2007); Bud Break at Mango House (Portlandia Press, September 2008), which won The Portlandia Group’s bi-annual chapbook competition; and Landscaping for Wildlife (Big Wonderful Press, fall 2012). Another collection, Eve and After, was a finalist in the Women of Words chapbook competition, and Brie Season was a semi-finalist in the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook prize at Casey Shay Press. Her poems, stories, essays, plays and articles have appeared widely in journals and magazines, both print and online, including Barrow Street, Carpe Articulum, Cimarron Review, Florida Travel & Life,,, Gastronomica, Georgetown Review, Greensboro Review, The Miami Herald, Mobil Travel Guides, The New York Times, North American Review, Poets & Writers, Prick of the Spindle, River Styx and Southern Living. She is a 2005 recipient of a top Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Award for her lyric poem “Farm Share” and the winner of the “Piccolo in Your Pocket” Contest in 2011 from the Alaska Flute Studies Center for her poem, “Repeat Ad Libitum.”  She received an MFA in poetry from University of California, Irvine and an MFA in fiction from University of Miami.


My middle and high school students at Miami Arts Charter, who often travel to school by bus and train (and are late because of it), were writing poems about transit for a pop-up art installation called the Purple Line, designed to point out the lack of mass transportation in Miami. After reading, workshopping and editing their pieces, I felt the urge to write my own--even though I drive to work every day.




Copyright 2009