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Poems by Jena Woodhouse

This is a very small sample of Jena's amazing poetry. I have included poems which I thought would sit well in this website. For more of Jena's poems, click here.

Jena attends beginner bellydance classes with Lorelle.


In Old Baghdad, Scheherazade...
Aghia Sophia at Sunrise
The Way They Danced
Song of Athenian Gypsies

In Old Baghdad, Scheherazade...

In old Baghdad, Scheherazade
melted one reluctant heart
with story upon story, for
a thousand shining nights and one.

The sultan, in his grand unease,
fidgeted with worry beads,
eager for the evening's feast
of fables and exotic song.

He heard of journeys filled
with wonder, merriment and
mortal danger, monsters unimagined
lurking in the path of vagabonds;

he wept pearls large as pigeon's eggs
and laughed a hail of diamonds,
but nothing could distract him
from the magic tales she spun.

She lived in more enlightened
times, when poets could disarm
the strong, and when the phoenix
bird of hope could stay the sword.

© Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1303070595


Aghia Sophia at Sunrise


Light escapes
across the palace gates
and reaches for the dome,
the high and fabled
galleries of stone.

Gulls wheel in
across the Golden Horn.
I am alone,
contemplating dawn's
Byzantine mode -

a reminiscent lingering
on walls of coral
and dull gold,
a heightening of colour
as the moment opens
like a rose.

 © Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1302230351



Before the shutters cancel night,
my gaze travels through indigo:
the Bosphorus outshines bazaars
with carbuncles and emeralds.

Drawing closer he can share
the view, across my shoulder:
"Perhaps you miss your home?"
That night, I can't recall
it clearly. "No, I've never
loved my city, so how could
I miss it?"

"Your city is inside you,"
he said then. "When I was
young, the navy took me
far from home. At times,
in other towns I glimpsed
a fragment of my own..."

Through once-familiar streets
I drive. Acrylic pigment smears
in rain; lights elongate; my city's
glamour fails to capture me.

Fluid images in glass,
double-exposed photographs,
the other city swims, subliminal -
drowned gems and crescent moons
coruscating secretly inside me.

 © Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1303060524


A young girl made the faded
one from Konya, I am told,
and raided all the heartland
shades of Anatolia - the amethyst
and rose of the high
plateaus and the air she breathed;
birds in flight across the eastern
steppe, their colours fused
in transit; water symbols
channelling through frames, and where
the pattern breaks, a message
woven like a stain -
a clot of alizarin,
enigmatic as a wound,
eloquent as pain.

Kilim: traditional Anatolian flat-weave rug

 © Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1302230359

The Way They Danced

He had a roving eye,
a rakish tilt of chin,
sardonic lips,
a man-about-town,
swagger to the hips;
hands equally at home
with female flesh
or dagger-hilt;
her glamour-dress
in midnight silk
was straining at the zip,
but when they rose to dance
the music lured them on
with glide and lilt,
conjured genies to displace
her corpulence,
his wolfishness,
lending them a dual grace
that singly they did not possess,
guiding their familiar steps,
making movement effortless,
as he remembered comfort she
had given, nights of tenderness,
and she remembered how he
always laid his wolf's head
on her breast, not offering
contrition or apologies
when he transgressed,
not conscience-stricken
at unfaithfulness,
forgiven nonetheless…

I watched them, not with envy,
but a tinge of wistfulness -
not having known any body
long enough to dance like this,
reunited like old flames,
lambent with rhythms
they loved best,
gazing at each other,
rapt as teenagers
at their first kiss.

*Mangas - Greek slang: tough (male) character, 
often engaged in Mafia-type activity.

 © Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1311160202

Song of Athenian Gypsies

from the cabaret, "Cafe du Monde"

They occupy the periphery,
winter in wind-bitten alleys,
summer in panting diesel-heat
under hospitable plane-trees.

You observe them unobtrusively,
drink in their colours, wistfully -
swirls of flamingo and cochineal,
silver and lime, rose and violet.

They move with the grace of acrobats,
slender girls with tik-tak heels,
like wildflowers in gaudy fields
desired, devoid of coquetry.

Children of children raised
on the street, with incessant
sirens to lull them to sleep,
scorned and bedraggled, grubby,
street-wise, confront you with passion
and blame in their eyes - too unlike you
to feel comfortable with, in their vivid,
tenacious, precarious lives.

Spring in the City

Buds on the bitter-orange trees,
their perfume haunting, bridal,
brief - the sombre skies of birdless
winter gone...

.................. In the trolley-buses,
music - hungry-hearted refugees -
a Romanian accordionist and his son,
piping their broken song.

 © Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1312130724


 (cat and rat)

Stationed at the window,
she waited for a glimpse of him,
brown and white and trim,
with lavish whiskers and a long,
sleek tail. Each time he scooted past
she hurled herself against the glass,
then waited till he punctually
ran back up again. And thus for days
and weeks, becoming more obsessed.
"She's probably in love with him,"
I told myself. Until the most grotesque
occurred. I found them both, his head
gnawed off, she gloating like Salome
over what was left.

Tonight she took her customary place
beside the sill, and trained her predatory
gaze upon the pane, like one bereft.

 © Copyright: Jena Woodhouse, 2003   Код: 1312180961


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This site was last updated on: 18/10/05