Jenna Jarvis

April is National Poetry Month, and on this last day of April, CWA is pleased to present two poems by Jenna Jarvis. Born in Ottawa, Jarvis lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where she has been teaching English since September 2017. Of Kaohsiung, she writes: “I am happy to live in a city where night markets are a thing, but where seasonal depression and exorbitant rent costs aren’t.”

Her work has appeared in Word and Colour, Sea Foam, In/Words, and other digital and print publications. Her poem “syndical not synecdochal” secured an honourable mention for The Puritan’s 2014 Thomas Morton Prize, and she was the winner of Bywords‘ 2012 John Newlove Poetry Award. Her third chapbook, year of pulses, forthcoming from above/ground press, explores a trip she made to Guatemala’s Central and Western Highlands. To read more about her writing life in Kaohsiung, and her thoughts on Canadian Literature, visit Rob McLennan’s blog, my (small press) writing day.


wind water

he says he is looking for ufos
in the facebook group. he needs an occult
or taboo type store in kaohsiung

for artifacts or magic with skulls
and other tokens, like from a black metal
or punk shop. the omnipresent

moderator insists that this sort
of thing is bad feng shui, like
you’d need a school of goldfish

to make it better again, like you can’t get
tarot readings at every night market.

then he says you might get lucky
if you go up to tainan, go up
even though it means south taiwan

i guess everything’s up from hell
which really did freeze over
elderly people died from the shock

but go up and there’s a place called rocksubway
near the sandwich chain, and the guy
has cds and diy carvings. another rec

suggests the outlet mall attached
to a theme park styled after the aegean sea
where some mystic shop sells dark things

either from the other shore
imported straitside, or marked up.



the no-see-ums

something named imperceptible needs
me cyclic as carbon and just
as telling like they say here it is
or it isn’t in chinese not called mandarin
nor another familiar distinction

my only outward responses
are cutaneous wealing ones
so formication and formosa
the insect sensation not fucking
and enforced portuguese slur together

i paint my nails to stop scratching inevitably
peel off sheets that mimic nori
down to the flakes in turn clippings
like carapaces of the interlopers
the dried polish itself

their bodies but no blood on the bed
or the screaming plastic
mattress cover: coiled pubes shards
of actual seaweed dried and sticky
from the seasoning and insular heat

once i burst open a diurnal mosquito
i was greeted with a bloodmeal stigmata
she lifted from some kid smeared
in those ominous stunted
lifelines all mine

-Jenna Jarvis

IMG_20180219_161344913_HDR 2

Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum (photo: Jenna Jarvis)







Posted by Debra Martens

author, editor