Jen Karetnick


If you make yourself
a ghost with the snow
melt from mountains,
the ash of brief,
ascetic fires, you were.
You are. You will be
in a hut in a village,
a temple in the city,
in the cave of perpetual
pilgrimage, it matters only
that rebirth is a truth
everyone else has missed.


When you jump the surf
during happy hour on Palm Beach
with a cocktail in your hand,
the curls are raw meringue
cresting a curd of sand. Palate-stung,
you must taste each wave as it comes:
buoyant salt, burn of western sun
and lime, lime, lime.

Every evening I leave out fresh coffee,
not to grind but to hijack the air,
spread its essence of mountain, shale
and shadow. Each one a polished toenail,
the beans in their potpourri dish
project the optimism of early morning
risers, but fail as the days wear on
to completely embrace the ammonia
of cats, the dank feet of the tropics, mold
feathering the insides of walls like nests – 
feral, furtive, as persistent as itself.


Jen Karetnick is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Landscaping for Wildlife (Big Wonderful Press, 2012), and six other books. Her cookbook Mango: Tour de Force is due out from University Press of Florida in fall 2014. Her poems have appeared in journals including Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, The Greensboro Review, North American Review and River Styx. She works as the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School; the dining critic for MIAMI Magazine; and a freelance food-travel writer for various publications. She lives in Miami Shores on the last remaining acre of a historic mango plantation with her husband, two children, two cats, three dogs and fourteen mango trees.