July 7, 2016

Three poems by Jennifer Hambrick: “Andy Dufresne Speaks at TEDx Zihuatanejo,” “Leaving,” and “Inside Out”

Jennifer Hambrick has been honored with a Pushcart Prize nomination, and her chapbook, Unscathed (NightBallet Press), has been nominated for the Ohioana Book Award.  She won the Ohio Poetry Association’s 2013 Ides of March contest, was a prizewinner in The Poetry Forum’s 2011 William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest (Columbus, Ohio), and has received many other recognitions for her work, which has been published in Third Wednesday, Modern Haiku, Pudding Magazine, Barbaric Yawp, WestWard Quarterly, A Narrow Fellow, The Crisis Chronicles, and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in many other journals and anthologies.

Freedom, Prison, Jail, Jailed, Prison Break, Wire

Andy Dufresne Speaks at TEDx Zihuatanejo

Up at Shawshank
I didn’t really think about it.
I mean, I’d much rather
walk around with
a pocket full of plaster chips
than a gut full of poison.

Yeah, there was plenty
of crap, and it could take
root in your mind and
lock you in a cell of your own
creation, so to speak,
it could enmesh you in the tangle
of your own steely thoughts
if you let it. Not a guilty man in there
they say and everyone bitter
over what they got.

Nevermind that.

Out here in Zihuatanejo the sky
is a continuation of the ocean –
endless blue, so big
you could hurt yourself trying
to swim in the air or fly
in the water. Vastness
wraps around everything
bigger than any prison yard.
Mozart makes sense out here.

A lot of people say freedom is
about cutting loose. I say
it’s about not getting tangled up
in the first place.



It feels like almost nothing
when she first picks up
the suitcase
handle taut and firm
in the hook of her hand
red satin lining
hidden inside
scuffed hard shell
containing only what
she wants to carry.
Sweaty palm
handle slips
she shifts the suitcase
to the other hand
the weight makes her
wrist tingle.

She skims the suitcase
on the ground then
picks it up
walking it this way
until her arms tire out.

She puts the suitcase down
sits on it for a while
starts back along her
long way to somewhere
swinging the suitcase
with each step along
the dusty backroad
each swing more leaden until
all her strength is gone.
She sets the suitcase down
leaves it at the side of the road
then walks away
giving up what’s inside.

Inside Out

Peel off that skin
that doesn’t fit, has never fit.

Take that skin to a tailor,
who will prick it with pins
to suit your shape and size.

Wash that skin in the machine,
on the “delicate” cycle,
where warm water will tease away
its tautness.

Hang your skin on a clothesline
so the sun can kiss it dry.

Smooth from your
muscles and bones
the protruding angles of the past –
piercing blades of loss,
shards of bitter words –
and place them in a box.

Then let your skin glide
over smooth dunes of flesh,
embracing, like a fine silk stocking,
every assured step.

“Inside Out” was first published in my chapbook, Unscathed (NightBallet Press, 2013).

~Jennifer Hambrick 

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