Jennifer Swanton Brown

Senior Year : Cash and Bananas

It’s a memory we’ll always share of him
riding his bike away from the house
in the morning

What memories will he have of us –
two middle-aged people
standing in the garage
my old bathrobe and slippers
your old t-shirt with faded logo and tea stains
his old parents
getting smaller

His old parents
fumbling with each other
in the corner of the kitchen
when he strides in
taller than both of us now
looking for cash and bananas –

Listening to Lavender

The first sounds have fallen away –
a boy lugging a 2-gallon pot,
tennis shoes patting pavement, his mumbles,
mouth in the blossoms, then the sneeze, followed,
after a pause, by a small oomph as he places –
air leaving his lungs and lips, uhhpf
the black plastic can on your patio, a loud tap,
the sprinkle of dry dirt sifting in a circle.

I won’t hear you plant it, chuck of shovel,
thump or soil squelch, the solid sliding
right-into-the-hole suck.
You’ll pat and tap, too, and then
rush its new shoes with a watery lushing.
Probably you’ll speak to it, resting on your heels,
your soft speech for its first planted breeze,
your yard all around you contentedly sighing.

Listen, my friend, to your lavender.
To those sliver green needles that pierce with no sound,
those stems bent by gusts that don’t groan,
those purple bloom-berries soundlessly nodding–
Today the broad rippled sky lies silent,
high above our unspeaking hearts.

Carpool Haiku

Her poems fall short –
the light turns green
before the rhyme

Simultaneous shrieks behind –
suddenly bright
brake lights ahead

A purple and white umbrella –
January garage sale
starting to rain

Golden arches
crumpled ketchup packs
among yellow pansies

Punches perfectly timed
she’s merging at 65 –
everyone knows school’s out

A radio favorite –
windows rolled down –
the backseat burping contest begins


JbrownJennifer Swanton Brown published her first poem in the Palo Alto Times when she was in the fifth grade. In addition to degrees in Linguistics and Nursing, she received her MLA at Stanford in 2012. A poet/teacher with California Poets in the Schools since 2001, Brown was the second Poet Laureate for the City of Cupertino (2013-2015). Her poems appear in multiple local journals and anthologies. Visit her at

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