All in by Jenny Browne

by Jenny Browne

1. Apache Plume


The road is a drone note,


            also known as a burden.


I traveled but a short distance,


            late and thirsty, repeating


hold yourself empty,


            hold yourself full.



2. Desert Sumac


Sun rising

like an elegant




the hockey

stick curve


of carbon




the hundred

year flood

again this one,



I turn red

when crushed.



3. Creosote


That under-employed boyfriend


you could smell approaching


all summer, strumming his guitar


played only one song: 


            I know you rider



& we play it again


for the ringtail, the rattler


the javelinas, even


a magnificant hummingbird:


            gonna miss me when I’m gone.



4. Ocotillo


I keep thinking of the salt flats

& the great Neruda poem that says

I want no truck with death.

Once I asked a man what word

he would have chosen instead,

but he sped on toward Carlsbad.

Did you know truck comes from

the old French for barter?

I wonder how a translator chooses

between bear hug & strangle?

I didn’t say let’s make a deal.

Nights I still dream of the ocean,

waves big enough to drown

the engine that makes them. 

The exposed shoulders of the reef

grow colder with the past. Something

told me if I waited long enough

I could have that back too.


Jenny Browne lives in San Antonio, Texas, and teaches at Trinity University. Her most recent collection is Dear Stranger. New work has been published, or is forthcoming, in Love's Executive Order, Harvard Review, and Oxford American