White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Jo Ann Baldinger
Jo Ann Baldinger lives in Portland, Oregon, where she writes poems, practices yoga, and tries to be patient. Her poems have appeared in The Monarch Review, Common Ground Review, Cirque, Burningword, Verdad, Blue Mesa, Tsunami, and Onthebus. Her work previously appeared in White Whale Review 5.1.
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Jo Ann Baldinger

Ukelele Song



O this world’s a string bag of stories

pliant sack of legends, myths,

every blunt or convoluted lie.

Tales told around the fire,

gods and beasts traced on the sky.

How we love to whittle chaos,  

embroider patchwork history.

The lie of weeds and wildflowers.

The lie to the rental agent.

Lie of Your call is important to us.

Lie of This may hurt a bit.

The lie I told myself so I wouldn’t hear

the dogs that barked behind locked doors.

The green flashing lie of hope. Lies

of pretty cherubs beckoning to us

from lofty blue and rose rotundas.


Jo Ann Baldinger




Those who claim the eye’s the portal to the soul

have got it wrong. With that old ham, the face,

captive in its padded sling, playing only to the floor,


I see the truth embedded in your back – the body’s west,

its past, its pediment. My hands press down,

I lean my full weight into bunched and knotted flesh


and soon the dumb mule of the back begins

to sing its blues into my oiled palms.


Jo Ann Baldinger

Walker Evans on the IRT


Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.
-- Walker Evans


 After Alabama I was done

with posing, framing, done with telling

someone else’s doleful story.

Though I’d be lying if I said

I only want to look. I have come

to nail this moment’s leap into the next


as we hurtle through the labyrinth. 

The little Contax, painted black

to match my overcoat, is strapped

to my chest, its greedy eye concealed

between buttons. The subway riders undulate

like grasses in an underwater meadow.

They doze, they read the evening news, they play

that sly subterfuge:  the mind dispatched

to rummage in far-off countries


Jo Ann Baldinger

while the body hunkers down to wait,

slack with weariness or the sweetest

anonymity. Everybody wears a hat.

Asleep or awake, they cannot help

but give themselves away.  I’m just here

to press the shutter cable in my palm.











Copyright © Jo Ann Baldinger. White Whale Review, issue 8.1

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