About this poet

Jennifer Givhan grew up in Southern California’s Imperial Valley. She received an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MA in English literature from California State University–Fullerton. She is the author of Protection Spell (University of Arkansas Press, 2017), selected by Billy Collins for inclusion in the Miller Williams Series, and Landscape with Headless Mama (Louisiana State University Press, 2016), winner of the 2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize. Givhan has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship. She currently serves as the poetry editor of Tinderbox Poetry Journal and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Tingo* (For Divorce)

*To gradually steal all the possessions out of a neighbour’s house by borrowing & not returning —Anjana Iyer

Your mother slaps a frenzy of honey on her plain soft bread
asking where the toaster’s gone & where’s her thieving daughter-in-law?

I stole her favorite cowboy boots & bought a ticket
for the rodeo. I watched the sun setting behind the bleachers

& held a cup of cold beer to my lips, unthinking of you.
Yes, I took your toaster & a set of tongs your hard-of-hearing

mother thought you said were her thongs & I laughed
at the impracticality before I took her wedding linen & monogrammed

bedding off the bed she’ll die in. When you lived in my house you ate
cake every day. You left cigarette burns in my cushions.

The yellowed newspaper clipping announcing our engagement, its picture of us
down by the river where we used to fool around?—I stole that too.

The bullhorns from their pens signaled disaster to anyone who knew the
signs. I stole the dirt shadowing the air. I stole the whole show.

From Landscape with Headless Mama (Pleiades Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Givhan. Used with the permission of the author.

From Landscape with Headless Mama (Pleiades Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Givhan. Used with the permission of the author.

Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan is the author of Protection Spell (University of Arkansas Press, 2017). She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

by this poet

poem

that failed to make a strong bond with its mother
& was shipped from a Florida zoo to New Mexico’s

(they’d struck a deal with the dairy farm for that baby
would drink thousands of gallons of cow’s milk)

that calf in the corner who doesn’t know I’m watching her

poem

First war       She polishes the spine of her own
flesh       Tethered nerve      strangling cord       She

burial mounds       She rituals       She
corn stalks in rustling fields       Nothing tribe

nothing sex       Rock for riverbed       Notched
with flint       Second war       She

poem

When I was eleven, Mama sang karaoke
at the asylum. For family night, she’d chosen

Billie Holiday, & while she sang, my brother, a
fretted possum, clung

to me near the punch bowl. I remember her
then, already coffin-legged—

mustard grease on her plain dress,
the cattails of