Two Poems by Jill Dery


Living alone is precarious.
Small, aging, female

means she’s frightened,
easily persuaded.

If not, if she gets angry,
defends her rights

(voice above a
timorous murmur,

intellect above a lamb’s)
there’s something else

at work: blizzards, dense
spruce forests, red slugs

redder mushrooms
(Amanita muscaria)

curdled cream, broken bones,
unsolved accidents.

Laughter late at night.


Feeding Chickadees

Their policy’s not as simple as it seems:
snatch a seed from the nearest feeder
fly back to the cover of a birch or spruce to eat.

But this is not enough—
each beakful is bracketed
by a search for predators: left right up down.

It’s hard to imagine what that’s like—
checking for danger between mouthfuls.
at home or in establishments of fine dining.

A middle-schooler trying to be
cool when called a slut.

A woman armed with Mace
for dawn runs in her local park.

Kind of like that?

Jill Dery has published stories in Bellingham Review, Fourteen Hills, and others; she’s published poetry in Antiphon, Windfall, San Pedro River Review, Broad Street, Bracken Magazine, Penn Review, ELJ, Temenos, and Noctua Review, with poems forthcoming in Blueline and Split Rock Review. Her MFA in poetry is from UC Irvine. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she currently lives in Anchorage.