Jean L. Kreiling

Jumping the Waves

Wading out to just the right spot, mid-breakers,
waiting, then at just the right rolling moment
pushing off, toes leaving the sandy bottom,
     we became ocean.

Rising with the curve of a wave, and weightless,
ceding all volition—the water’s playthings,
lifted more than jumping—we mastered laws of
     natural motion.

Breakers not yet broken embraced us, kept us
floating, drifting; we were the kin of seaweed,
home at last—though none of us ever spoke of
      any such notion.

Rocked like newborns, cradled in swaying solace,
lightly held then harmlessly dropped, we’d promptly
push off with our toes again, meeting swells of
     salty devotion.

These days I wade into the sea with caution,
vision poor and reflexes slow. But knowing
how to jump at just the right rolling moment,
     I become ocean.


I lay the cards out flat in front of me
for something tidier than solitaire.
In this game, every card conveniently
means what I say, but still, clear wins are rare.

The first card in the first row is the queen
of hearts: my mother—warmer than this face
suggests, but just as savvy and serene,
and gone five years. I miss her clear-eyed grace.

The one-eyed jack is that short-sighted man
I once loved, whom I should learn to forgive.
The tens—all four—I’ll discard if I can;
perfectionism is no way to live.

A dearth of diamonds hints I’m going broke,
but lucky sevens could mean wealth restored.
If crazy eights inflict a cruel joke,
a king may yet defend me with his sword.

I fear the two of hearts is my reflection:
so anxious to be right, I often find
I’m drawn in equal parts to each direction;
sometimes it’s torture to make up my mind.

A misdeal often leaves my life askew,
but if in my mind’s eye each card can fit
precisely in its place, I can review
the hand I’ve got, and learn to deal with it.


Jean L. Kreiling is the author of two collections of poetry: Arts & Letters & Love (2018) and The Truth in Dissonance (2014); her third, Shared History, will appear in early 2022. Her work has been honored with the Able Muse Write Prize, the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Sonnet Prize, the Kelsay Books Metrical Poetry Prize, two Laureates’ Prizes in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, three New England Poetry Club prizes, the Plymouth Poetry Contest prize, and the String Poet Prize. She is an Associate Poetry Editor for Able Muse: A Review of Poetry, Prose & Art, and a longtime member of the Powow River Poets.


Kris Beaver
Catherine Chandler
Mary Cresswell
Catherine Fitzpatrick
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Katie Hartsock
Jean L. Kreiling
Diane Lee Moomey
T. R. Poulson
Catherine Esposito Prescott
Carolyn Raphael
Claudia Schatz
Leslie Schultz


The Poetry by the Sea Spring Celebration is available for viewing on Youtube as a permanent memorial and tribute to Mezzo Cammin's founder, Dr. Kim Bridgford (1959-2020). Click here to watch.

The 2022 Poetry by the Sea conference will run May 24-27 2022.

My work contributes to the dialogue among feminist writers, historians, critics, and artists to define a space for creative work and agency for women. Through my figurative paintings, I challenge notions about the female body, redefine myths, and recover the lives of historical women. I draw upon my knowledge of art history, symbolism, and iconography to create rich stories about the women I paint. By projecting my own likeness into many of the portraits I create or by using models, I identify with the women I paint and explore my own sense of being an artist and woman in relation to accomplished women across centuries and cultures.

Here we see the pages from my newest artist book, I Wake Again, based on the life of Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet, Elizabeth Siddal. The poems are written by Kim Bridgford, who was a dear friend for 30 plus years. The pages are printed in lithography and the initial letter of each poem is done in silkscreen. The font of the poems is Morris Font. The ink color is graphite. I have reimagined key moments in Elizabeth’s life, such as her birth, her writing poetry, reading, painting, and her death. Each book contains red hair and has been bound by Maureen Cummins.

32 Poems
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