Jen Karetnick: “Duck”
Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist
Jen Karetnick, “Duck,” 2021 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist selected by Judge Clare MacQueen
”Duck” is a poetic narrative with its own kind of music, and with memorable language and imagery, the latter of which may not be pretty in at least one case. I also appreciate the well-chosen line breaks (in particular, Line 9) and the outcome of the poem, not to mention how it all sounds when read aloud.
— Clare MacQueen
Every time she passes the sewer, she hears subzero quacks.
It’s a Muscovy, she believes, that went to jump from the gutter
to the curb but whose voice now extends from below sea level,
down in the storm drain with the lost shekels and half-melted
tranqs and blood-clotted tampons. The text of it livid with worry,
she can’t enjoy the freeform jazz of her walks, imagining
nuggets of fuzzy, gamboge babies left jabbering
lakeside somewhere in the purlieu, un-sequestered,
as orphans often are for evening foxes. So she dials fire
rescue to lift the grate, which they do, obliging as agave syrup
to offer sweetness, only to find a male bullfrog, squat and jovial
in the scuzz, performing throaty jingles about his season of sex.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen Karetnick's fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020). She is also the author of the collections Hunger Until It's Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. In addition, she is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including The Crossing Over (March 2019), winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded the 2020 Tiferet Writing Contest for Poetry Prize, the Hart Crane Memorial Prize, the Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, and two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes, among others. Her work appears recently or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain, Under a Warm Green Linden, and elsewhere. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, Jen was a 2020 Deering Estate Artist-in-Residence. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see jkaretnick.com.
Previous ArticlePoets on Craft: James H. Duncan and Rebecca Schumejda
Next ArticleSeeking a Shard of Joy