Tuesday Poem: ‘Vignette for Spring’ by Joani Reese

Vignette for Spring

April shakes winter’s hollow limbs beyond the screen.
Poplar branches clatter and brittle in pieces
to lie shattered on the lane. Shun the narcissus;
its yellow coronas trumpet the lie of resurrection.

A lover you will never meet passes by
hair struck silver under the mounting sun.
His gaze points toward heaven. The red of his lips
goes forever unkissed. A mandolin laughs from a window.

Somewhere, a vibrating string snaps to startle the ear.


Posted with permission from the author.

Dead Letters, in Indonesia

Dead Letters, in Indonesia

I’ve been wanting to share Joani Reese’s poetry for a while now. I ordered her new chapbook of poetry Dead Letters  (which you can check out here) several months back but it took a circuitous route to arrive. Now I get to hold it in my hands and enjoy the pages, full of complex relationships, conversations you’d not expect, dark corners you may not want to peek around, moments lost and found.

I chose to share this poem today — a poem that seems to be of lighter nature than many of Joani’s poems — because 1) it’s spring somewhere in the world (and how I miss the change of seasons, finding myself located this year in a place that seems to have only hot and hotter) and 2) this poem exudes a kind of close observation and mystery that I like a great deal. A poem about spring? Sure. But it’s not what you expect from spring. Look how it moves so quickly from one unexpected image to another: there’s Narcissus, but lurking is that lie of resurrection; there’s a lover but it’s not a lover you can know. And the string playing a spring tune? It’s not Stravinsky but a quick sharp snap.

Thank you, Joani Reese, for sharing your work this week!

More about Dead Letters:

In the new collection Dead Letters, the music of JP Reese’s poetry never strikes a false note. The voice in her writing is always unmistakable, genuine, and penetrating. These poems – and you will keep them close to you – serve as maps for journeys over dark and grieving landscapes. This is a strong poetry that promises and delivers a place, finally, of human faith, of hope under “the arid bone of flowered stars”.

Sam Rasnake, poet and author of Inside a Broken Clock from Finishing Line Press and Cinema Verite from A-Minor Press

There is a sort of formal antiquity and modern lyricism at play in JP Reese’s Dead Letters – lovers and family, mythology, allusion, and everyday moments so minute that it is only the persistent ache a reader experiences that alerts her of her own transport elsewhere.  Reese’s poetry is subtle that way.  And powerful.  A departure.

Heather Fowler, poet and author of the new short story collection This Time While We’re Awake from Aqueous Books 

Other reviews of this collection can be found by Christopher Allen, by Michael Gillan Maxwell and by Nate Tower.

JP Reese in San Antonio, TX, 2014

JP Reese in San Antonio, TX, 2014

Joani Reese (JP) is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Final Notes and Dead Letters. Her poetry and fiction have been widely anthologized and featured in over seventy print and online venues. A senior poetry editor for Connotation Press—An Online Artifact and an annual fiction guest editor for Scissors and Spackle, Reese has won The 15th Glass Woman Prize for her short fiction,  the first Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize for her flash fiction, and The Graduate School Creative Writing Award from The University of Memphis for her poetry, where she also earned her MFA. Reese lives and teaches in Texas.


Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. At the TP hub this week, you’ll find a beautiful poem by Ema Saikō, posted by Hub Editor Janis Freegard — another poem evoking a season in bloom — plus poems by the various TP collective members.  Look down the left-hand sidebar and click on each one to see their weekly contributions.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.


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5 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Vignette for Spring’ by Joani Reese

  1. ajponder says:

    Gorgeous, the non-sequiturs add up to show the not quite, the disonance, I don’t know – but you’re right, it’s the what you don’t expect that makes this poem. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. This poem was not the poem about spring I was expecting when I read the title. As someone else stated above, there is an element of the revealing nature of spring shaking off the hollowness of winter and of the mystery of an unmet lover in this poem. This lover is angelic almost, and then you reach the end of the poem and the mandolin playing from the window “laughs,” but then the last line of the poem shows that a string has broken somewhere “startling the ear.” This last line of the poem seems to contrast the beauty and peaceful-ness of spring with the harsh,brash sound of a broken string, but I could have the wrong interpretation of your poem. I was drawn in by the title, and I think you did a great job with the imagery of this poem.

  3. This poem contains so much and is so short…it’s one where it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand it because you can feel it.

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