Jeff Whitney

Note to Charles Wright

Today a colony of ants up in arms
about a sprinkler leak.
Above us, the messageless
cursive of far-off planes.
Eventualities exist, amigo,
and what are the dead
but the swish of a woman’s hair,
the loose pull of waves,
the sheet in the closet never used.
Pincushions have no limit.
You can stick them and stick them
and I don’t think you’ll run out of spots.
That is the beauty of our world,
the terror. Yet we laugh
with the laughter that shatters all.
Meanwhile, a honeybee goes
to market. Ants unearth the earth.
I was waiting for nothing
and nothing came. It was abundant.


I wrote the word
and stood
in its halls,
a child
winding the corridors
of a museum
where the vastness of
history is made clear,
the still figures
from ten thousand years
all staring back
at a landscape
that still remembers
who they were
when they
hardly knew.


After Quinton Duval's poem, “What Woul you Give”

I admire the way you have died
yet still hang around that old diner.
Weekdays, middays, Saturdays,
church days: it is a place good as any,
you say. The woman at the counter
still sits on her stool, skirt tucked
into her underwear, and I admire the way
you feign fascination at silverware,
sat with friends, going through your meal,
not knowing how to inform the woman.
So you are distracted, and eating
breakfast—good. And there
at the bottom of your oatmeal
is a penny. From the yellow jukebox
some old song that made sense
when you were out of love then in it again.
What would you give, to pull fruit
from an orchard that could only promise?
To taste in your mouth the idea
of a woman showing up at your door?
Yes, this is an age of little wonders.
We find them everywhere—in this,
that. How poorly they are named.

Author Portrait

Jeff Whitney is a graduate of the University of Montana’s MFA program and a co-founding editor of Peel Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Devil’s Lake, Salt Hill, Sugar House Review, Thrush, and Verse Daily. He currently lives in South Korea.