Poetry by Jennifer Kronovet

"Untitled" by Janie Stamm / janiestamm.com



Peacock Island, Its Alchemist

The alchemist was given the island
to see what he could make with its distance—
red glass he called jewel and isolation.

I have been given no island, and yet
I made a baby, another. Jewel and isolation
were valued, but the island was taken back

from the alchemist. I’m often given
a place to leave—words glassy
in the wake of departure. And glass

is no ruby. Blood is no ruby,
no border. I believed this even
before I came to the mainland

where blood is everywhere
a key. Oh! The architecture. Or:
Oh! That asshole. On the island

there’s little red glass remaining. Who
wants a room filled with the blood
of light, the dredge of imitation sun,

the thrum of being inside a body
and the seep and the lack of armor?
Here make armor with this:

fake jewel, impending isolation.



Peacock Island, Its Alchemist

“Dear friend, dear friend, for a long Zeit
I lived here inside my Glaslaboratorium
and wondered glass into rubies. Glass is not
enough. Its seethroughness will pull you

through into a poverty of flash. The princes
want to prance red in reflection so I smelt
until the glass swarms bloody
with fine gold dust. Fire made me

a fancy man of change and then made me
a ruin, ruined transformation, showed
my light hold on the space between yes and uh oh.
To be forced off an island—the rabbits

staring at your back as you go—it’s losing your own
dense core. Even here in Sweden, I can’t blush.”





The city of X: The blackbird’s
unadulterated vocabulary.
What infiltrates the blackbird’s

sentiment? Crow
caw, death maw. I too
keep my languages straight,

speak Y in Y. A in A. I speak
Me in Me. I yell sound
into the water of the bath.

(Cover me, water.) But still:
the languages inbreed
silt. Songbirds have an organ

for song. The city of X is an organ
for home. Pum pum.
I am an organ for what I choose:

violence or thought.
Sex or sleep. Eating or walking.
I don’t sing. I don’t swim.

On the tour of nothing
left I can hear the old
dialect in the walls singing,

don’t sing,
don’t swim,
violence or thought.


Jennifer Kronovet is the author of two poetry collections: The Wug Test (Ecco Press, 2016) and Awayward (BOA Editions, 2007). Using the name Jennifer Stern, she co-translated Empty Chairs, the poetry of Chinese writer Liu Xia, and she also co-translated The Acrobat, selected poems of experimental Yiddish writer Celia Dropkin. She edits Circumference Books, a new press for poetry in translation.