The Beginning, A Photograph of Rome

“Tell me about
your Italian journey
I am not ashamed
I wept in that country
beauty touched me
I was a child once more
in the womb of that country
I wept
I am not ashamed
I have tried to return to paradise”
― Tadeusz Różewicz, They Came to See a Poet: Selected Poems

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A Tall Ship, Photograph

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over”
– John Masefield

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Earth with Robert Francis

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I follow Plato only with my mind
Pure beauty strikes me as a little thin
A little cold, however beautiful.

I am in love with what is mixed and impure
Doubtful, dark and hard to disencumber
I want beauty I must dig for, search for.

Pure beauty is beginning and not end
Begin with the sun and drop from sun to cloud
From cloud to tree, and from tree to earth itself

And deeper yet to the earth dark root.
I am in love with what resists my loving
With what I have to labor to make live.
– Robert Francis

Moment, A Photograph of Thought

This is what I have.
The dull hangover of waiting,
the blush of my heart on the damp grass,
the flower-faced moon.
A gull broods on the shore
where a moment ago there were two.
Softly my right hand fondles my left hand
as though it were you. 
-Mary Oliver

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Lunar Moon Mood, A Painting and Poem with Robert Creeley

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A Form of Women
by Robert Creeley

I have come far enough
from where I was not before
to have seen the things
looking in at me from through the open door

and have walked tonight
by myself
to see the moonlight
and see it as trees

and shapes more fearful
because I feared
what I did not know
but have wanted to know.

My face is my own, I thought.
But you have seen it
turn into a thousand years.
I watched you cry.

I could not touch you.
I wanted very much to
touch you
but could not.

If it is dark
when this is given to you,
have care for its content
when the moon shines.

My face is my own.
My hands are my own.
My mouth is my own
but I am not.

Moon, moon,
when you leave me alone
all the darkness is
an utter blackness,

a pit of fear,
a stench,
hands unreasonable
never to touch.

But I love you.
Do you love me.
What to say
when you see me.

Still, A Watercolor with Pablo Neruda

“Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.”
– Pablo Neruda
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The American | In Italia: Living: Lost in Translation: The Deep End, A Prose Poem

Below you will find a link to my column Lost in Translation and my most recent piece, “The Deep End” which is not a typical article, but more-so a prose poem. Anyone who knows me, knows that poetry is near and dear to my heart. Although the magazine does not typically publish poems, this particular prose was allowed – this one time.

http://www.theamericanmag.com/article.php?article=4326
Couple Holding Hands Underwater

By Jennifer Allison
Published: 2014-07-10
Standing by the side of the pool I felt the raindrops on my shoulders. Beyond the palm trees and jagged rocks, the Pacific Ocean remained still. It was far too early in the morning for anyone to be out and about. Eyes open, I dove into the warm saltwater pool, heading straight for the bottom.

As a child, my swimming teacher lectured me on the need to learn to swim on the surface, not just under water. I tried in earnest, but as soon as I’d let out my breath, my small body would sink. I’m dense. The deep end became my home. Sometimes I’d let my belly rest on the bottom. Floating was and remains difficult. To stay buoyant, I have to arch my back to let my chest expand. My legs often dangle beneath me.

I swam along the bottom of the pool, kicking off it for propulsion, imagining myself as a dolphin torpedoing upward. I came to rest on the surface, my upper body floating, my hair extending half the length of my arms, which remained spread. As I tried to float, my back arched and my legs dangling as always, I thought about a simple but significant question my younger son had asked me a few days before.

“Do you think you’ll ever marry again, Mom?”

Everyone I know, or so it seems, is divorcing and remarrying, sometimes doing both within months. My son is sensitive. When it comes to me, he doesn’t like not being in the know.

I wanted to remarry, I had told him honestly. It just wasn’t that easy. Dates were easy. Romance was easy. But finding someone who complimented me and I them, well, that was harder.

As I considered this, I let myself sink to the bottom again. There, peering up through the water at the sunrise above, the rain gone, I held my breath as long as I could before again shooting back to the surface, all the while pondering my own marriage, my past relationships, and the deep end below me.

I’ve had only a handful of significant relationships in my life — four to be precise. Metaphorically, I started comparing them to my lifetime of swimming.

For years I was married to a man who was an All-American in every sense. We spent almost all our time with our heads jointly above water, feet firmly planted on the ground, never letting anything become too uncomfortable or run too deep. We remain good friends who care for each other. Even now, as co-parents, we keep our heads well above the surface.

I also thought about the German man I became involved with, and loved, for four months. He and I had stood on the different sides of the pool, smiled at each other, and decided to dive in head first, destination deep end. But while I continued exploring the pool’s far ends, he lost his breath. Gasping for air, he retreated to the shallow side where his friends awaited and comfort was assured. I knew he still longed for the deep. I also knew he didn’t have the lung capacity to truly explore it. I climbed out the opposite end of the pool.

My relationship with the Canadian was all in fun. He didn’t swim but appreciated that I did. During the week I’d dive as deep as I could, resurfacing on weekends, when he’d have a glass of Dom Perignon and vacation plans waiting. After exactly a year I realized I no longer wanted to step out of the water. He took his cocktail party elsewhere and, still poolside, is happy as a clam.

The Italian I met while navigating the deepest parts of the pool. He took my hand and for the first time in my life I felt like I’d found someone who swam like me. We held our breath for three years, exploring, discussing, debating and loving. But whenever we had to leave the water to gather food, our hands apart for a while to cope with life on land, we’d fall apart. Neither of us knew how to survive together outside the deep end of the pool. One day we stepped out of the water together, both frustrated that we had to, and couldn’t find our way back.

My watery metaphor was suddenly interrupted by outside conversation. A man jumped into the pool and water sloshed over my face. I did what I always do. I let my breath out, sank, retreated to the deep end, and swam along the bottom. Until I found the stairs and left the water behind.

Upon the Shore, A Photograph with Yeats

That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling
She knew not where,

Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea

― W.B. Yeats

The Shore Girl

Shadows Deep, A Photograph of Books

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
– W.B Yeats

Vintage Books, Tacoma WA
Vintage Books, Tacoma WA

Little by Little, A Photograph

Another Land, Jennifer Allison
Little by Little, Jennifer Allison


“Well, now

If little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you
Little by little
If suddenly you forget me
Do not look for me
For I shall already have forgotten you

If you think it long and mad the wind of banners that passes through my life
And you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots
Remember
That on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms
And my roots will set off to seek another land”

― Pablo Neruda

Still Face, Photograghs

“For your sake, I hurry over land and water;
For your sake, I cross the desert and split the mountain in two,
And I turn my face from all things,
Until the time I reach the place
Where I am alone with you.”
– Al Hallaj

I took these photographs while visiting Joshua Tree National Park this past weekend …. A still and peaceful place

Tree, Jennifer Allison
Tree, Jennifer Allison
Joshua, Jennifer Allison
Joshua, Jennifer Allison
Alone, Jennifer Allison
Alone, Jennifer Allison

Earth Poetry, Photographs

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.

Kahil Gibran

I am an advocate of many things –  of the arts, of humans, of trees, of philosophy, of poetry and literature, of interaction, of expression and of love.  A man whose words have always touched me deeply were those of the Lebanese-American Kahil Gibran.  If I could bring anyone back for an evening of conversation over a meal, it would be him.  I’d like that – to sit in an olive grove with Mr. Gibran and just listen…

Olive trees, as you may have read in my past posts, hold an allure for me.  I like that their gnarly trunks make this bold statement of, “I am here and have been for many years and will continue to do so,”  while their dainty silver-like leaves seem to be fickle in their presence..almost blending in to the sky behind them…

Religion, A Photograph

“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs
for their religion–
I have shuddered at it,
I shudder no more.
I could be martyred for my religion.
Love is my religion
and I could die for that.
I could die for you.”
– John Keats

Religion, Jennifer Allison

Tree, A Poem

I do not remain to judge
I simply remain to be
A tree
Who trims her branches
of the heavy rotted fruit
of her past

A limb which sags lifeless
bearing an ignoble Roman
and his secret lover’s
letter of apology;
embarrassed at her
eating the bitter fruits off my tree
for so long concealed.

A limb of a childhood crush
who write letters
lamenting the lost chance
of the eating of my fruit
many many years past
while he eats the fruit of another
he calls “wife”

A limb dense with
a desperate women
who clings to my branches
calling herself “friend”
hoping I will feed her
while she gorges
on the fruits of many
trees around the world.

A limb which drags heavy
of fruit fermented in
past insecurities and
Ignorance
Finally free with
the passing of the storm
called experience

I trim these dead limbs
and with a bright smile
carved into my trunk
I can now move about
to paint my branches,
grow a sweet
yet discerning fruit
and celebrate freedom

by Jennifer Allison

Ode to Daphne/Mythology, graphite sketch

“I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of all things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a sacrifice on their alters.”
Ayn Rand

Daphne, Hermes and The Storm of Lake Garda