Jacqueline Gens is the co-director and
a founder of the MFA Program in Poetry at New England College. For
many years, she worked at the Naropa Institute (now University) in
Boulder, CO, before joining the staff of the late poet, Allen
Ginsberg in NYC. She has worked as a program director for numerous
regional nonprofits, including, the Great River Arts Institute and
the Shang Shung Institute of Tibetan Studies located in Conway, MA.
She was an early member of the Monteverdi Artists' Collaborative
at Packer Corners Farm (AKA Total Loss Farm) in Guilford.
is currently on the board of Write Action and hosts two monthly radio
shows on WVEW Brattleboro Community Radio. She is a regular contributer
to number of Buddhist publications and has lectured widely on the Beats
and Buddhism. Her poetry chapbook, Primo Pensiero, with a foreward
by Anne Waldman, was published by Shivastan Press in the fall
of 2008. Visit her blog Poetrymind at http://www.tsetso.blogspot.com.
For Barbara Benoit
Above the din of Amy’s café
in the backroom overlooking the river
loud words drift over to our table,
Did the Dalai Lama ever have a job
like shining shoes? The old Vermonter
leans towards his wife who’s eating a croissant
as she looks away from him.
I want to reach across the room
and tell him yes about my dream
of the Dalai Lama in a glass airport tower
directing traffic on the runway
of life and death and that his question
isn’t so ridiculous as his wife’s response suggests.
I want to tell him that the monk once held my left hand
at a reception while he massaged my palm
looking into my eyes talking of nothing much
as he rearranged my subtle energies, my right hand gripping
the glass of white wine until I jumped
in recognition of what was happening--
So strange, so intimate, so wondrous,
the shocking intensity of his kind gesture in passing,
as loud as the man’s words in the café.
NEARING SUMMER SOLSTICE
At Tires for Less on Route 9
I wait to exchange snow studs
for all season tires past the April deadline--
A young skinhead,
with a spider web on his naked
elbow strips the lugs
which hit the floor as he moves on haunches,
feral menace with a drill bit.
I pace the pavement,
looking down at the Connecticut River.
At the edge of blacktop next to a field of low
lying wildflowers and scrub brush,
broken glass and butts indicate I'm not the first.
Two monarchs catch my attention, then flecks
of orange move among purple cones,
a different butterfly, with fur edges.
This day is long with light and I have time
to wonder how they know to convene
by the hundreds in this dump
oblivious to trucks and cars speeding past,
their movements counterpoint
to my own noisy impatience, calmed a moment,
until spider boy calls me over.