about the author

Jennifer Whalen is Texas State University’s 2015-2016 writer-in-residence at the L. D. & LaVerne Harrell Clark House in Smithville, Texas. She served as the poetry editor for Front Porch Journal, and her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, New South, Fugue, & elsewhere. She currently teaches college English.

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Party Planning 

Jennifer Whalen

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What about the confetti? Somebody
would have to pick it out, another
clean it up. I wasn’t a mathematician;
I wouldn’t add up the parts to some whole.
Even if I did, how romantic could it be?
a roll of streamer paper cut to slivers
under a factory laser—but still,
I had a choice & like any choice,
I stalled. Bathroom breaks, trips
to snack machines, watching tiny spirals
nudge chocolate towards connoisseurs,
but what about the confetti?
If I paced party stores—bagged paper-shapes,
scrapped rainbow crumbs—what then?
would one reach to me as if a bare hand
towards the heat? I tried to visualize
the world through bits
of paper: the gas station ground
covered in color, street corners
camouflaged in faux-petals swept
to mountains later. It was ridiculous,
all of it, night’s accentuated cause
& effect: our throwing
then cheering. But I would have to live
within it, hair speckled in evening-excess,
or seconds prior: when confetti
is just confetti, not a mirror to hold
the night to. Could anyone have turned on me
for lack of effort? If I returned empty-handed
or wrong-handed or not at all. Confetti:
a word in my mouth, the night now rid
of its taskliness. And if they did,
offered faces as masks of grimace,
little clamors of it was never meant to be,
wouldn’t this blame be an effort,
a perfectly arranged bouquet,
a mirror to see the night through?

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