The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “Songs from an Apartment” by Olena Jennings

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“The Dollhouse Club”

My security was a book in my backpack.
Other people had tricks amongst their sharpened pencils.
A girl promised me a candy cane. When I dug
in the strange bag, I found cane-shaped foil
sticky inside. I continued to look because I wanted
treats. I had boxes filled with melted candies,
reminders that my actions were commendable.
They were my acceptance into the world
of feathered hats, birthday spankings,
and a farewell hug for my classmate.
He was going abroad and it was the first
time I smelled a boy’s skin. I knew then
I would never love.

My boyfriend had a bag of candies on his table.
Even as an adult I collected them.
They reminded me of the chocolate bars
I got from my grandfather’s pantry.
My boyfriend pressed candies into my hand
each time I walked out the door
and I pushed my body to the box filled
with their silver wrappers and stale chocolate
as if the box was his grave and I could find him
transformed into a sweetness that I might love.


This selection comes from the collection Songs from an Apartment, available from Underground Books. Order your copy here.

Olena Jennings has published poetry in Poems by Sunday and The Anthology of Young Poetry of the USA. Her poetry collection Songs from an Apartment was published by Underground Books in January. Her translations of poetry can be found in Chelsea, Poetry International, and Wolf. She has published fiction in Joyland, Pioneertown, and Projecttile. She completed her MFA in writing at Columbia and her MA in Ukrainian Literature at the University of Alberta.

Heather Knox is the author of the poetry collection Dowry Meat (Words Dance Publishing) and the forthcoming YA fiction series Vampire Wars (EPIC Escape). Her poetry has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, [PANK], decomP magazinE, Word Riot, Thrush Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Heather currently teaches online for The Poetry Barn and Southern New Hampshire University, and serves as Managing Editor for The Wardrobe.

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