“Colossal” by Jennifer Perrine

Jennifer Perrine


Liberty Takes a Sick Day

Give me a moment of rest. I am tired of this stress position. My poor
arm trembles. Let me huddle in bed, catch my breath. The doctors say I’m free
to leave, but movement makes me wretch. I refuse to pretend that I’m not sore,
that I can’t sense my temperature rise. Tonight, I’ll let this fever toss me.
I’ll drop my lamp at last. Someone else can stand fast, hold open this damn door.



Liberty at the Bar

Give me your finest brandy. Scratch that—I’ll take whatever’s handy. Pour
me enough slugs of the stiff stuff to mute these untruths. Land of the free?
Home of the praise for barricades and bans, for guarded borders and shores.
Send me into senselessness. Line up the shots. Raise a toast! Drinks on me!
I’ll lift my glass to drown the pleas of the ghosts who still stand at my door.



The Huddled Masses Make Their Reply

Give us a break. We were never free.
We were one bad check from homelessness.
We braced ourselves, shored up against loss.
We crossed our hearts, prayed away the poor,
left our mark, smudge upon a glass door.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019
Tribute to Persona Poems


Jennifer Perrine: “I fell in love with poetry by writing in persona. When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher assigned The Scarlet Letter and asked everyone in the class to write a response. She gave us several options, and among them was the chance to write a poem in the voice of a character from the book. I chose Pearl, Hester Prynne’s daughter, because she was so central to the story and yet hardly spoke in the novel. I discovered that persona poems were a way I could imagine—and help others to imagine—the perspectives of marginalized characters. In this series of poems, written as the status of immigrants is once again contested in public discourse, I was wrestling with how Lady Liberty, standing there on one of the literal margins of our country, might contribute to the current conversation.” (web)

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