J.V. Foerster

J.V. Foerster is a Pushcart nominated poet. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines including: Cirque, Amethyst Review, Quartet, The Bluebird Word, The Fiery Scribe, Furrow edition from Green Ink Press, Eclectica, Agnieszka’s Dowry, Red River Review, Midnight Mind, Premiere Generation Ink, Fickle Muse, Oak Bend Review, Fox Chase Review, to name just a few. She has work forthcoming in Orchard Lea Anthology, Her work was included in a Rosemont College Anthology. J.V. also is a published painter and photographer. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.

Featured Artist

Requiem unsung on Lake Superior

Originally published in Quartet Rview

The last week in April you were
in the hospital room at the end of the hall
one of the old rooms with chipped paint
and dirty scuffed floors. The place where
they hide you when they can do no more.

I stood looking out the window over the lake.
My face a moth of denial pounding against
your dying. Snow began and I watched
the crashing waves. I thought if only I could
take flight out the gritty
window fly above the deep lake.

When I touched your cold cheek
and kissed your open mouth
you whispered no more kisses
I don’t want you to get this.
And a rawness rose up in my throat
like an acid I knew I would
never swallow down
with any lonely grace.

I knew it would forever
sit there raw in my gut.
I did not know how to do it
how to be the good wife with
my throat begging my tongue to speak.

When finally my tongue rose up it was soft
like a deer asking can I drink from
this stream for you? Can I lay my palm
here on your head? Can I go in your place?

Instead, I asked if I could sing for you
and a lullaby like a silk ribbon rose up,

from my throat
into a longing to rock
you in my arms away from death.
You said no singing,
but that was all that was there to do
the damn desire to sing…all that was left.
So much love in an unsung song.

A Stone

(“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me.
I am a liar until I am proven honest.”
― Louise O’Neill, Asking For It)

As dangerous as a hand without a stone
As dangerous as a stone without a hand
Far heavier is a stone on the tongue of grief.

One is destruction
One is love
One is hunger

One is my sister, your sister
One is my brother, your brother
One is my mouth trying to swallow.

As dangerous as a hand without a stone
As dangerous as a stone without a hand
Far heavier is a stone on the tongue of sorrow.

One is my sisters married to love
One is me being raped my husband
One is a heavy stone of truth

dropping from my mouth now that he’s dead.

No one cares. Not family or children

In the retched desert
on a quilt in the forest
in a house hidden on a hill

there is always this stone
on top of my body
where you left it
so I’d forever be
mounted by fear and
your shame.

And now that you’re dead

my sons
hold the stone
carrying on the ancestral rage.

A Widow Waiting

I am the real thing. 
the new neighbor who just became
a widow now sobbing in her yard. 
In the mornings I am
talking to my dead husband  
telling him loudly I can’t do this 
I can’t ride through this. 
I am that woman all the town folks 
talk about, we were that couple
that bought the house
on the corner.
Cars slow down
like our house
is a new circus come to town.
They all heard the story  
how we came here so you could retire 
you were going to sail, I was going to write,
paint, and how you died 3 weeks later. 
In the morning I am a stiff salty
pillar standing by the lake
looking back at every moment
squinting waiting for your boat 
certain this evening you will be standing 
tall on the deck after a day of sailing
and how I have my feet in the sand 
the wind playing with that summer dress. 
At night I hear your voice calling me.
I jump up to help you and only find oxygen tanks.
I sob on the tile floor this place of dreams lost
my tears like blood.
I want to fill this damn lake with tears,  
I want to kill the fish and seaweed with my harsh red salt. 
I can feel myself rolling off the end of the earth. 
I am the woman who walks each day  
to the veteran’s memorial with our brown dog 

talking to myself, praying and cursing wars, 
begging the red path and stones with their
tiny name plaques Joseph, Allen, James,  
to bring you back home.
 I just want you home. I repeat
this mantra to the oaks.
I am the women in the store buying  
one apple, one potato, looking like raggedy Anne
with all of my seams opened
red yarn of my hair tumbling down 
all the dark inner stuffing falling out
of me and I don’t care. 
The elderly widow across the street 
who lost her husband to the Korean war 
stands at her door watching me 
out in the harsh lake wind 
she watches me fall in my yard 
to my knees 
she listens to my young widow sobs  
she wants to hold me, but turns away
in her knowing it  
must be this way. 
Handless, alone in her kitchen, she pours tea.

Of Mercy and Mercilessness

My palm grasps the smooth branch
at dawn it was nibbled by a young deer
who has crossed the river looking for spring buds.

I am in the grasses, horsetail lace, tiny beaded
oat grass, two yellow puckered lipped
scotch broom watches me, and a strange large leaf maple
lays out its palms to me.
In the house a field away the news is on the TV
far off yet always surrounding me

this world churns up its old deceit into new colors
unharnessed mouths of hatred
tongues of demons wagging fire
all for them hungry to climb up onto a false throne.
But I am in the grasses with mosses

rooted fists on rock and dirt with certainty
to hear the low thrush call, the certainty of spittle bugs
clump of foam with its secret nymphs

I am mud booted and ready here, here not there
I am solid no dread I have known the pain of loss
and survival in all its harshness seems gentler
then that of waring men.

As for nature the flowing seasons, it
has its own cruelty to bear
I’ve seen it this Spring when the

tiny baby Merganser was swept down the river
taken from its mother off away alone
forever down down the churning
rocky river.