emilie sleeping

“Emilie Sleeping,” oil on paper, by Adolph Menzel, circa 1848.

No Sign of Flowers

Kudzu clings to soil spreads
the way my wavy hair engulfs pillows
heart shaped leaves grow taller
so tall my Yorkies crawl in
play hide and seek disappear

My childhood lawn was perfect
envy of the neighborhood
on the outside

My father killed
weeds for a living
my father cut
down wildflowers
choked handfuls with bare fists
left them lifeless
stomped out of yards
green on his boots

I buy a bottle of weed-killer
I’ll never use
simple: point and spray
let them wither turn brown
or mow them down start new
but I won’t—
convince myself
below ground they plan something


for my sisters

All daddies resemble Superman
until their hands throttle
a woman’s neck.

I lift my mother off the floor,
(I once looked up
into her brown eyes)

too devoted to crawl
in that king sized bed
without her king.

But he sleeps beside another.
I sleep between my two sisters,
try to count our role models,

pray to God for help with my math.
I hear his busy signal,
give up instead.

There’s one trinity
I believe in, two girls I venerate.
I bless myself in the name of the



Jenn Strife Gibbs earned her MFA in poetry from the University of Tennessee. Last year she participated in the Ashbery Home School Conference and was named a finalist in Sequestrum’s New Writer Awards. Her poetry has appeared in GFT Press. She teaches tenth grade English and lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband and two yorkies.