April 17, 2017

Ghosts sit in my mouth and sing.

Jeannine Hall Gailey
She Returns to the Floating World

Introduction to Witchcraft

December 9, 2016


Always these young women in search of power,
their eyes rolled back in their heads, midriffs exposed.
Always some girl with a candle in a dark room –
and poof, her face brightens as she achieves
some moment of bliss. The raindrops around her freeze

in midair, the wolves stop baring their fangs, and for a moment
the young girl marvels at her own invincibility.
But then it’s fire, fire, always someone with a stake or a knife
ready to do her in. She is a spark about to go out.

Jeannine Hall Gailey


The body is a place of violence. Wolf teeth, amputated hands.
Cover yourself with a cloak of leaves, a coat of a thousand furs,
a paper dress. The dark forest has a code. The witch
sometimes dispenses advice, sometimes eats you for dinner,
sometimes turns your brother to stone.

You will become a canary in a castle, but you’ll learn plenty
of songs. Little girl, watch out for old women and young men.
If you don’t stay in your tower you’re bound for trouble.
This too is code. Your body is the tower you long to escape,
and all the rotted fruit your babies. The bones in the forest
your memories. The little birds bring you berries.
The pebbles on the trail glow ghostly white.

Jeannine Hall Gailey
(First appeared in Phantom Drift)


February 8, 2016


The titanium staple
the surgeon left in your stomach
is just the beginning:
it’s the strontium-90 in your baby teeth,
in the bones of your parents.
(The dust of New Mexico, the echoes of
tests of implosion triggers
fifty, sixty years ago.)
Note the Americium in your smoke detector.
Note the rate of decay per second.
The trees drink Cesium click click click
The bees weave particles into their nests click click click
The traces around you
of other people’s experiments
linger in your veins, lungs, eggs
linger in your femur and kidney.
Carbon-based structures,
we absorb from the water, from the air,
from our food, from our walls
from our parks and fishing ponds.
We absorb and our body says:
it is good.

Jeannine Hall Gailey

(Jeannine Hall Gailey is a Seattle-area writer whose first book of poetry, Becoming the Villainess, was published by Steel Toe Books. Poems from the book have been on NPR’s The Writers Almanac, Verse Daily, and included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Evansville Review, and The Columbia Poetry Review, among others. She’s an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review and teaches with the Young Artists Project at Centrum. You can find her website here.)