Jacqueline Jones LaMon is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, UCLA School of Law, and Indiana University Bloomington, where she received her MFA in Poetry. A graduate fellow of Cave Canem, her first poetry collection, Gravity, U.S.A., received the Quercus Review Press Poetry Series Book Award. Her first novel, In the Arms of One Who Loves Me, was published by One World/Ballantine Books. She is an assistant professor at Adelphi University.


Three Poems by Jacqueline Jones LaMon


JACQUELINE

They named me for a hostile move. To oust,
like one usurps or bullies a way into being.
She who makes space in fullness, wedges
into crowded elevators. She who presses buttons.

It wasn't like that at all. When called to life I was pushed
to the edge, forced to jump beyond. Behind me, I heard
failed cries of request—to heal ancestral riff, alter closed minds,
save three or four drunks from car wreck in two adjoining

centuries. What it means is that nothing can keep me
from this journey of pulleys and weights. To be what is
measured in a moment of calm. To be what is left
when war is over and water runs, once again, clear.

[Reprinted from Gravity, U.S.A. (Quercus Review Press, 2006)]


THE AGE-PROGRESSION ARTIST PENCILS IN THICKER LASHES

Maybe I overstep, to paint her smile on this way, toothy
and broad curved, the most mindless stare. At twenty-seven,

she would think every day what it means to be taken,
to be lost and in a manís arms, a squirm away from herself,

static, separated. I have to choose so much: to press out
her hair, divide it or gather, cut it off with a chop

because she might have dyed it red-orange, hate the truth
of her whole self by now. Beyond my work window, a mother yells

at her youngest, walks three steps away. He will get no new toy,
no hot chocolate, no whipped cream. His face upturned and deepened,

he does not cry, will not let her be the victor. I test my recall—
hooded navy jacket, yellow plastic boots, crumpled paper bag,

threadbare argyle mittens
. He watches her leave, looks away
from the earth, drags his left foot to leave his mark in the snow.

[from The Elsewhere Chronicles]


TRANSFER

We stand beneath our shelter, take it all in.
Across the street on the eastbound bench,
a fidgety girl sporting Dora the Explorer, that hair
in two bulging twists, caught up with red
and pink plastic barrettes. She stares at us
until she wins; we are weak, the first to look

away. Buses arrive with screech and huff, motor hiss
and metal. And in the time it takes for seven tired people
to heave down the stairs, three more to hoist and board,
we miss seeing the Dora tee-shirt girl suck the knuckle
of her left hand, her head in quasi-lean, just like
the grainy photo shown on last nightís evening news.

[from The Elsewhere Chronicles]