2011 Alabama Senior Poet Laureate
Donna Jean Tennis

Donna Jean Tennis, 67, Montgomery, Alabama is a retired office worker whose jobs have all dealt with computers. She has been on the Alabama State Poetry Society board for 23 years. The former “contest junkie” decided to enter contests again in 2008 and won the Alabama Senior Poet Laureate award. Now, the inveterate contestant has done it again. Donna has one late-in-life granddaughter and five cats. Her sign is Cancer.


Roses are red
    violets are blue
sugar is fattening
     and why can't you
get past the past . . . move on,

forget that stupid kiss.
A simple peck, lips to lips,
a dress rehearsal, practice
smooch, nothing special . . .
twelve years going on sixteen.

Admit it, you were bored, yearned
for flowers, sunbaked beaches,
all those titillating props cavorting
in your momma's Harlequin romances

which you should not have been reading
in the first place,
but which made that yen
for kisses like a burning 12-year itch.

So you succumbed. Searched throughout
the summer for a cohort in this plot,
someone worthy of your first shared spit.
Only to discover pre-teen boys
are mutts, reveling in dirt, laughing where
there is no joke, keeping secrets safe
like lizards shelter bugs . . . .

What's a girl to do?
                        Decades later,
when I pass a mirror, I lean in close,
recall the mirrored imprint of my lips,
lip-locked at the age of twelve
to someone bound to keep that
First Kiss safely under wraps--
the person in the mirror -- myself.

Donna Jean Tennis