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Sleeper Awake


The lobstermen have gone out

before the wind awakes.

The wharf is friendless.

And though the goldfinches prattle,

it's your voice I want to hear next.

Around My Head


The small buzzes of small bees.

To them, I am a bit of wall, landscape,

a tree. And they are weather,

thoughts, foreign verbs buzzing

to me. Though I may have a scent,

a color, that’s worth a look-see,

I’m nectarless, pollen-free.

And they, they are the idea

of something I need, something

that would sting to hold,

what I can’t live without,

I must translate to be,

but how, how to grasp,

or taste? Honey, are they

what you are, to me?

Not There Yet


                                (for Newtown, Connecticut)


Now I must do it for you: Breathe, primarily.

The catcher’s mitt of summer air,

each year’s first frost, slapshot of cold

at school bus stops, spring’s dodgeball wind.


It falls to me to shout in your silence.

Swim meet, marco polo, soccer score.

New duties in country and town: 

Sneeze, hiccup, yawn, blink, frown. 


Smell pine, cut grass, New England 

snow, cinnamon, chocolate, the sun. 

Pencil height on kitchen doorframes.

Backseat warble: Are we there yet?


Are we there yet? The voluntary 

I will study but how strange, 

how breathless now, the involuntary 

when it besieges you.


Sorrow and All


There’s no end to it

even if you put it away

like a coin in your winter coat

you’ll find it again (with interest),

next snowfall.

Morning Exercise


The morning calls out a question;

I ready pencil and pad.

The Linguist sends me a verb each day,

but I am too dull to conjugate.   

From The Singing Rooms (mvt. 7)


Three windows offer two versions of the day,

the first: cool and sweet, a blue cascade

of watered light,

the second: bright heat barely held back

by the venetian blind.

Excerpt from the poem "Three Windows: Two Versions of the Day." Setting from The Singing Rooms (mvt. 7). Read the complete cycle in Poems-Sequence Settings. The Singing Rooms is available for purchase on Amazon

Poem by Jeanne Minahan; Music by Jennifer Higdon

From The Singing Rooms (mvt. 4)


I admit I’ve listened to the whistling of God,

kissed lips that were not mine or yours.


If I tell you these things now,

you must hold them in your palms

as I have seen you hold water:

cupped and uncontained.


Excerpt from the poem "Confession." Setting from The Singing Rooms (mvt 4). Read the complete cycle in Poems-Sequence Settings. The Singing Rooms is available for purchase on Amazon

Poem by Jeanne Minahan; Music by Jennifer Higdon

From Rain Out at Sea - That Summer


It was the season of linen.

Some times I took your hand,

or you, I think,

took mine.


We sauntered in the gardens,

we sunk our heels in sand.

It was the linen of summer

I gathered in my hands.


In winter there was a leaving,

I took my time, I took my time.

I don’t remember grieving,

though I remember your hands.


"That Summer." Setting from "Rain Out at Sea." Read the complete cycle in Poems-Sequence Settings.

Poems by Jeanne Minahan; Music by Ya-Jhu Yang

Sarah Shafer, soprano; Rebecca Anderson, violin

The End of Love


The end of love

is to be loved,

but I could call it other things.


"The End of Love." Setting from "Six Anti-Love Love Songs." Read the complete cycle in Poems-Sequence Settings.

Poems by Jeanne Minahan; Music by Joseph Hallman

Sarah Shafer, soprano; Amy J. Yang, piano and celesta

From Minahan Songs - The Blue Dory


They anchored

the old dory

beside the painter’s studio

in a field of lupins

lavender, pink, rose, yellow, blue,

on a hill that calls out

each morning   each evening

to the sea.


We went there together.


That knowledge scrapes my throat

like an oar caught in an oarlock.

Sometimes the scull circles air

before you find the water.

Sometimes you gasp

but cannot breathe.

Sometimes you’re the dory

or the heaving heart within it,


Sometimes, now,

you’re the sea.


"The Blue Dory." Setting from "Minahan Songs." Read the complete cycle in Poems-Sequence Settings.

Poem by Jeanne Minahan; Music by Andrew Hsu

Lauren Eberwein, mezzo-soprano; Ashley Hsu, piano.

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