Ave Jeanne Ventresca (aka: ave jeanne) is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry that reflect social and environmental concerns. Her most recent collection, Noticing The Colors of Ordinary, was released in the summer of 2019. She edited the acclaimed literary magazine Black Bear Review, and served as publisher of Black Bear Publications for twenty years. Her award winning poetry (contemporary and Asian) has been widely published internationally within commercial and literary magazines, in print and online. Ave Jeanne was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for 2019.
Envying The Ability of Mittens
woolen scarves and mittens sleep on the third shelf of this old metal rack. they sit methodical, arranged by size or perhaps by frequency of use. December air
floats through a crack in the window and just now discarded letters creep across these cold floors. resisting urges to climb back under sheets, warm and friendly, i follow curiosity and listen to voice mail that has been neglected. strangers, friends, perhaps faded voices of lovers.
i attempt to avoid losing my smile, breathe in the mirror’s reflection and prepare for an arduous day that weighs in front of me like the sound of hearts that beat while at dance. now i awaken the scarf, beckon the door to let me pass and head towards Victoria Station to begin my walk. under a heavy sun, through crowded streets, i avoid
all eyes of strangers as my boots carry me onto the eager train. an American offers me a seat, and my nod offers gratitude, honest and humble. back and forth voices bounce, each with a different accent that touches my ears with interest. as another shiver arrives, i wrap my coat around my achy legs, open this weathered book and read chapter nine, as not to waste time. yet my
thoughts jump back to the old metal rack at home, with the scarves and mittens on the third shelf, and i envy their ability to sleep warm and quiet on this cold winter morning.
OBSERVING HOPE / Portrait of a Refugee
his wife was not one to complain. an ordinary person who had crossed a border. only
a few dirty clothes in her bag, and a picture in this frame, of a now tattered childhood. but no complaining
did she exhale through her mouth. was it because she didn’t understand the new language or because everything was held deep below her skin, like an etching, never to surface from swollen clouds of this new environment. the eyes
of numerous children she holds in her pink cotton pockets. keeping them safe and warm until she needs to see them once again.
she knows all birds are free here, they are not displaced and that thought gives her a few minute of courage. it makes her one who need not complain.
COLLAGE OF MANY COLORS / the occupation of death
death is an insatiable hero whose occupation takes him to far away places, nearby dreams and twinkle lit towns where these elderly bodies wait in shadow with long tales of their childhood and mismatched socks of red and brown. he rearranges
the way things look, mindful of responsibility and passing seasons. removes weeds from lush lawns, observes dandelion and lily orange, to make it his choice where new growth will appear.
he dashes through hospital wards, selecting this or that in his path, designs room for new arrivals. here, he is planting disease and virus at will.
there is the constant claim in silent forests, tall oak and willow under silver moon notice his small silent changes of design.
methodical maneuvers touch three act plays where footsteps of soldiers come and go, at fade and dissolution from some certain moment.
he will come for you and me, like a paper wrapped package in the mail to be opened with care or returned with sender unknown.
SUMMER SNAPSHOT/ random events
chance is a moldable clay that we can form into geometrical shapes, relevant or undesirable. it can conform to a class system, rigid and taunt or politician’s thoughts, flammable and raw. it could attempt some resemblance to long ago dreams of past warriors and turn self into a child’s toy friendly and soft of color. we can
take chances or leave them to sleep quietly in a wooden drawer. we rely on hope, that we aren’t struck by lightning during an unscheduled storm. we can toss icy dice its way, and gamble out our decades, one by one. toss relationships in an email, strain to predict the winning numbers of the lottery, but still this screen saver remains the same, predetermined by some now sleeping designer.
Her Recipe For Chiffon Cake From 1942
right before each contented sunrise, is the only hour of day she will leave this humble cottage.
her apron carries assorted things. she spies and gathers them gingerly during her walk, but the weight doesn't slow her optimistic steps. she has strategies for doing it the right way, ideas about familiar gardens, recipes to create a little happiness and the lightest chiffon cakes.
ten days before the baking she stashes whites of her eggs, places them into a traditional bowl. covers the vessel methodically with anticipation. suddenly the air
carries faint smells of gas from the nearby sleeping city. it replaces aromas of grass, earth and her footsteps, animals that she welcomed, all without sweeping any away from her sight. but
bombs don't discriminate. their killings and swift destruction cannot categorize homes, eggs, fields of corn, or the last uttered phrases from faces. so in this
moment all is gone. she does not return to her cottage warm, to add her tenth egg and her newfound berries to the kitchen, to sit by a fire and listen to clear voices of her memory. today,
i follow the steps from mom’s recipes at need for her chiffon cake with the many egg whites. and as licks of this batter reach my lips, only sad is to taste