poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“This is a poem about an effort to move on with a new life in a newly-emptied house; and ultimately, about how adhesive old patterns can be. What do I see when I look at bare walls? In the bare, freed-up space, I create a new projection of my old brokenness. The stanza I used in ‘Settling In’ looks (superficially) a bit like Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Rooster’ stanza. I always experience this shape as a kind of architecture, a rhythmic triangle, like bricks of breath. However, Bishop (the form’s inventor) and her excellent roosters, made a ruckus in stanzas of mono-rhyme. My triangular stanzas seem to be trying hard to avoid their own rhymes—until at last, rhyme has to face itself and clips the poem shut.” 

Jenny Factor

Settling In

Jenny Factor

How I loved
each bare floor, each
naked wall, the shadows on

newly empty halls.
By day, my head humming
to itself of dreams, I cleaned and

scrubbed
to make life
new; dislodging from the corner,

the old
moths and cicadas
pinned to the screen, the carcasses

of grasshoppers
dangling from beams,
and each windowsill’s clutter of

dried beetles
and dead bees. But,
through each opening, each closing door,

the old life
returns on six legs, or
spins a musty web as it roosts over

a poison pot, or
descends from above
to drink blood in. This is how it

happens: the
settling inthe press
of wilderness returns to carved-out space, to skin.

Copyright @ 2014 by Jenny Factor. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 11, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Jenny Factor. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 11, 2014.

Jenny Factor

Jenny Factor is the author of Unraveling at the Name (Copper Canyon Press, 2002). She teaches at Antioch University in Los Angeles where she also lives.

by this poet

poem
Two knights surrounded by dinosaurs
are cornered in the kitchen--all threat and bluster.
Action figures always act
even as night tries to soothe them under.

I am the one who laid a nervous hand
on a child's exhausted threat and bluster.
The bunk bed creaks as the story settles,
as night's cool hand tries to