Jeanie Tomasko: Four Poems


after Sherman Alexie

1. The tawny hermit thrush sings us to sleep. 2. Sings
you to sleep at least; I stay awake because I can’t sleep
on the ground like I used to. 3. Questions from a far-off
tree. 4. Who-who-who is awake besides the moon?
5. The loon answers, his red eyes sleepless. 6. Coyotes
agree, then wander off, gray minstrels. 7. 11:10. 8. I get
a text message from a friend I texted hours ago. 9.
We’re texting a sonnet, line at a time. 10. And fair the one
who listens to the night.
11. And I think of all the nights
I worked graveyard. 12. (I don’t text back because
it would wake you.) 13. Clocking in, clocking out,
coming, going, job to do. 14. Truck in the distance,
climbing the watershed’s grade, red-eyed driver
delivering something important to someone, somewhere.


Night forest


Purlieu, n

1. Sliver of sky where Venus shone late last night. 2. Neighbor-
hood dogs not yet awake. 3. The only sounds, clear notes
of the cardinals and you waking.  4. You tell me again the dream;
5. you’re camping with wolves in the mountains, sitting late
around the fire, light glowing in their eyes and you want to be
home, though you love wolves and have only ever seen them
from a small airplane. 6. I move my leg across yours, tell you
mine. 7. We’ll finish painting the kitchen today.  8. Put down
new shelf paper.  9. Order out Chinese.  10. I want to throw away
everything we don’t use.  11. You put your hand on my chest,
count these new irregular beats. 12. You won’t throw anything away,
you say, 13. your warm breath on the freckled skin of my shoulder.


Image of an unmade bed


You Almost Pray

Outside morning cats
wend their way home

                         quick grass
                         slow  under

eaves as rain falls hard
to gray pavement

                         hard as

                                                  and you want to believe in
                                                  later, only because

of the sound of tires
rushing on—

The way you almost

                         when lightning
                         and then again

                                                  when the sky
                                                  returns all of a piece

                                                  and dark—

And should it all
end here

you are small on a bed
the universes ringing

the river down the hill
rising, growing smooth.


Photo of rain


October we

October we ran
our fingers through each other’s

the way you do when
                         (beside the path
                         lay five small fetal dogs
                         their skin so thin
                         we saw the outline
                         of each heart

                         slant of sun like gold
                         through yellow leaves
                         our fingers
                         through each other’s
                         the way you do when)

trees let yellow go


Image of autumn leaves



Art Information


Jeanie TomaskoJeanie Tomasko is the author of Sharp as Want (Little Eagle Press), a poetry/artwork collaboration with Sharon Auberle. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Lilliput Review, Verse Wisconsin, The Midwest Quarterly, and Wisconsin People and Ideas. Her chapbook, Tricks of Light, is forthcoming from Parallel Press.

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Jeanie earned her degree in nursing from UW-Madison and works as a home health nurse in the Madison area. She is an active member of the ecumenical Benedictine community at Holy Wisdom Monastery. She has four grown children. Jeanie and her husband, Steve, enjoy the outdoors and venture out whenever they can via foot, ski, or a couple of paddles and a seaworthy canoe.



"You Almost Pray" - lovely poem. Simple eloquence. Beautifully arranged on the page.

Your words flow like a stream of consciousness. I loved following your watery journey.

These are all wonderful. My fave lines:

"the river down the hill,
rising, growing smooth."


I really like that picture of you and the cat, too.

Lovely poems! The "list poems" are wonderfully crafted, showing how even the most poetic of moments are inextricably woven into everyday life. The accompanying photos for each of these delectables are poems in and of themselves! Nicely done! --JR

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