“letters that linger,” a poem by Jen Schneider

Jen Schneider

letters that linger

of the moments.memories.meanderings

a. the sound of silence
b. the taste of quiet
c. the feeling of safety
d. the color of warmth
e. the flavor of peace

that could have pressed, 

stamped, stomped,

even tattooed themselves

in inks (blue.black.red)

& palettes (pink.yellow.green)

on concealed palms,

at the midnight hour,

of rays of sun / grains of sand / specks of dust

on concealed eye lids,

at the stroke of dawn,

on pulls at the hip—

tiny fingers, leather loops, pulled elastics

at a moment’s notice

i wish i knew,

that it would be those.

_a_. _b_. _c_. _d_. _e_.


mornings spent waiting, one

of a crowded garden of irregular regulars,

an asymmetric assortment of alphabet noodle soup,

under the building’s concrete eaves.

an oversized lion, ears of many drums,

crafted of metal. both awaiting & waiting.

the moment when gloved paws

find iridescent pause and, perhaps,

a glimpse of _a_, _b_, _c_, _d_, or _e_.

expansive glass doors would click,

locks would clack, a nearby crow might craw,

& we’d file. one after the other.

through metal turnstiles, swish.swish.swisssshhh.

then shuffle to favored spots.

i’d make a wish as we


like dandelion fluff.

wind strewn branches.

spotted butterflies.

in search of home.

to remember

_a_. _b_. _c_. _d_. _e_.

tracks of mud & mayhem. of madness & mystery

of monuments & momentum. of macaroni & macrame.

of marmalade & miracle whip.

create.seak.consume quiet. waiting. awaiting. solitude

a guy in maroon khakis up the center stairs.

a woman of multiple coats down to the right.

others. to the left. ahead. three paces. ten turns.

i wish i knew what they studied. consumed. created. fled.

with regularity.  their packs as heavy as mine. their shoulders, too.

my path would rotate, by day & season. always seeking sun rise.

then sun set. five paces due north. thirty paces due west.

transpose steps & stages with rising & receding tides.

when home is no longer safe, feet find new ways to forage,

to avoid defeat. junkyard finds & favored junk.

backpack contents as varied as the stacks

ziploc bags of quiet foods.

packs of juicy fruit. starlight mints.

soft wonder stuffed of bologna.

ball point pens. blue, black, & red ink.

cotton balls. pinky balls. rubber bands.

life savers—butter rum. wild cherry.

extra earrings. spare backings.

a small washcloth. navy.

a makeshift pillow. canary yellow.

a greeting card. happy belated birthday.

a phone number on the back of a taxi receipt

an id. valid.

a coupon. invalid.

pins. safety. laminated. enamel.

lego bricks. two by two. three by one.

metal wheels.

messages for bottles for seas i’d neither send or sail.

sealed envelopes. mostly bills.

unsealed records. mostly life.

theatre tickets. off off broadway. stand-up.

careful to minimize scents.

& stamps of pasts. & present.

when time was marked of charcoal on bindings

& sides of my left palm

when states of readiness were marked

of copy machines & elevator doors.

in a space where applause was never needed

& where silence never suppressed

portals from here to there. now to then.

tomorrow. & yesterday.

time relative. all periods possible.

& possibly correct.

in small pockets of dusty air where the past teases the present.

vending machines the only calling

soda pop. frito lay. pringles. breath mints. 

some seize knowledge in stacks. others savor anonymity.

i sought seek _a_ ._b_ ._c_. _d_. _e._

& safety.

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of Recollections, Invisible Ink, and On Habits & Habitats. She is the 2022-2023 Montgomery County PA Poet Laureate.

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