Jenni Fallein
If Beauty
Were a Spy

Jenni Fallein

Montana Poets Series #3
Craig Czury, Editor


Just a few poems into If Beauty Were a Spy, I was thinking, how is Jenni Fallein doing this? The poems seem so thoroughly engaged in their compassion yet so necessarily detached in their irony, even when they're literally looking inside a mother's heart. I don't think anyone could be taught to write poems like these, the way they're profound, funny, informed, raw, elegant, compassionate, sardonic, and/or spiritual-all at once: The afterlife thing hides like a big dust bunny under the bed. Pedometers taunt, tempt and deceive like lovers. Reality TV meets the bedsores and sponge baths of terminal care for dying mothers.   The body stripped of its skin and innards is “all muscle and bone/exquisite.”  The same goes for these poems. They're wonderful.
Greg Keeler, author of Trash Fish: A Life

Reading Jenni Fallein is like talking to a friend, a friend who is funny and irreverent, with a fondness for puns, and who has also taken as her calling a vocation of care.  The heart of this book is about caretaking: of people and of plants, i.e. the garden, acts of hospice and hospitality and humility toward the world both global and immediate.  She is not sentimental.  She is not afraid of pain.  Plain-spoken, sarcastic, but capable of exaltation, she celebrates "the crazy chance to walk around in a body" at the same time as she is gutsy enough to title a poem "I Hate Death."
Melissa Kwasny, author of Reading Novalis in Montana

From intimate to fractal, Jenni Fallein's poems on death, Buddha,
relationships, and our relationship to the natural world are moving,
impulsive, and hilarious. Jenni doesn't hesitate to push the
boundaries of space-time and reality in her work, and it works well.
In one poem, Buddha-fox leads us, Ebenezer Scrooge-like, through the
life of a grain of sand. In another the narrator realizes the surgical
imagery of her mother's heart might be as close as she will ever come
to knowing her. This collection will stay with you. Highly
recommended.
Benjamin Parzybok, Editor, Gumball Poetry

Fallein destines to lead us into a natural progression of the world, tumbling, bumping, and then spilling over a rim.  What falls away? What's lost?  A world that, in her other light hangs, as in a dream, over an uncertain abyss.   
Sue Schardt, Executive Director of AIR

From the Preface:

Jenni Fallein is on call, has been up all night, is driving to be where you are, and is here in these poems watchful, waiting for the slightest sign that you're here too. You've been here the whole time, and now there is someone who's listening. She's listening to you float up from your body / a paper-doll cloud of yourself / translucent blue… fluorescent green / of a male mallard's neck in sun… through / each of these yellowed plants /desiccated by drought / and neglect… Each luminous or sorrowful act in nature carries a human cry for attention. And when she speaks, gold as any charm, not broken, just badly bent, a grain of sand, she has your voice.

Craig Czury, Editor, Montana Poets Series
Reading, Pa.
9/11/10

From the book:

Mother On Fire

To say
that the sun
suddenly rising
on October larches
along the curved highway
outside  St. Regis
is to blow on the coals
of last night's fire
all through predawn
until the mountain bursts
into flame
is not poetry
Everybody
would say the same
Fire on the mountain
as factual as rain

Remember
my mother's
dark walnut hair
her first attempt at
being blonde
She emerges
from the bathroom
forehead blotched in peroxide rash
white towel exotic
as a Sikh turban
until she unveils
her bright orange hair

If I would have known
these larches then
I could have made her
feel beautiful

Instead we laughed
our heads off
at the shock

If Beauty Were a Spy

If Beauty were a spy
working for the CIA
she would be
this Morning Glory
pink as five AM  summer
making her clandestine entrance
into the bed of wayward ragweed
and migrant oregano

She wraps herself  in and through
each of these yellowed plants
desiccated by drought
and neglect
captures them
in her spiraled arms
her fingers lock around
the hydrangea
haphazardly stuck over
an old pet's grave

She climbs up the leaning sticks
of the rickety gate
lifts them all
by a network of green tendrils

Unstoppable
in her final glory
days before the Equinox
she infiltrates
the bamboo chimes
holds
even the wind
breathless

Jenni Fallein is a writer and painter based in Dillon, Montana. She is a member of the Bentgrass Poetry Troupe, and teaches poetry workshops at the Elkhorn Correctional Facility for women.  She, and her husband, Roger Dunsmore, have hosted poetry circles in their home since they taught together in China in 1997.


If Beauty Were a Spy is a 116 page hand-stitched paper book with spine - $16.00

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