I want to write this letter to someone in particular but I can’t reach them because of reasons.

Everyday Life

Dear B–

I once asked you to describe containment in the hopes that words would become a tangible net or spell and I would be safe forever.

Now, instead of a chrysalis I want:

Emptiness

Extreme space

I want open sky

I want rolling storm clouds and I want to feel the sting of every piece of hail as it strikes the ground (it’s still cold here, still winter–mostly).

But even though I have room to run now my brain is still caught in this weird mind snare that maybe was always there, I don’t know how long I’ve been walking around not noticing.

I’m having some problems and creative outlets help but I still have this awful hollow feeling in my chest and maybe if my body dissolved in the river or the obscenely wonderful streaky pink sunset I’d feel better.

So I want to know, now, even though I don’t feel very proper asking you (it’s not about protocol it’s that there’s so much more going on in the world and it’s President’s Day) but I’d love to know your feelings about the open sky and how you would illustrate the opposite of containment.

Call it freedom if you like

Call it emptiness

Call it a void

Call it silence

Call it the loudest noise in the world, a volcanic eruption

Call it whatever it is that you need to feel a lack of containment.

Sincerely yours,

Jessica

Note: This is an open letter. I’d love to hear/read anyone who wants to answer. Thanks.

I love two dogs, even when they’re killing / a baby possum near the columbines, / shaking the varmint / until the death squeal chokes to a gargle,

A Commonplace Book

Alan Michael Parker, “When I Am a Hummingbird”

This stanza and the the last of this poem are why I write. Absolutely beautiful.

…and I will dive into the meat

of the possum

and beat there,

the mean, bloody thing alive again.

What I Read in Grad School

Lists

Matsuo Basho: Narrow Road to the Interior, Sam Hamill translation, 1991

Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge: I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems, 2006

Frank Bidart: In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-90, 1990

Elizabeth Bishop: The Complete Poems, 1969

Jenny Boully: THE BODY: AN ESSAY, 2007

Jenny Boully: [one love affair], 2006

Ana Božičević: Stars of the Night Commute, 2009

Rebecca Brown: Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary, 2005

Melissa Buzzeo: What Began Us, 2007

Anne Carson: Autobiography of Red, 1998

C. P. Calvary: The Collected Poems of C. P. Calvary: A New Translation, Aliki Barnstone translation, 2006

Paul Celan: Poems of Paul Celan, Michael Hamburger translation, 1989

Emily Dickinson: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, 1993

Dolores Dorantes: sexoPUROsexoVELOZ and Septiembre, Jen Hofer translation, 2008

C. S. Giscombe: Giscome Road, 1998

Renee Gladman: Juice, 2000

Marilyn Hacker: Winter Numbers, 1994

Kimiko Hahn: The Narrow Road to the Interior, 2006

Christian Hawkey: Ventrakl, 2010

Langston Hughes: Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, 1990

Richard Hugo: The Triggering Town, 1979

Bhanu Kapil: Humanimal: A Project for Future Children, 2009

Bhanu Kapil: Schizophrene, 2011

Carole Maso: Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing & Moments of Desire, 2000

Eugenio Montale: Mottetti: Poems of Love, Dana Gioia translation, 1990

Pablo Neruda: Odes to Common Things, Ken Krabbenhoft translation, 1994

Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories, 1971

Frank O’Hara: Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen, 1974

Jena Osman: The Network, 2010

Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems, edited by Ted Hughes, 1981

Claudia Rankine: Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, 2004

Arthur Rimbaud: A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat, Louise Varese translation, 1945

Muriel Rukeyser: Muriel Rukeyser: Selected Poems, edited by Adrienne Rich, 2004

Sappho: Sappho: A Garland, The Poems and Fragments of Sappho, Jim Powell translation, 1993

Selah Saterstrom: The Meat and Spirit Plan, 2007

Juliana Spahr: This Connection of Everyone With Lungs, 2005

Juliana Spahr: The Transformation, 2007

Jane Sprague: The Port of Los Angeles, 2009

Gertrude Stein: Reflections on the Atomic Bomb, 1973

Wislawa Szymborska: View With a Grain of Sand, Stanislaw Baranczak and CLare Cavanagh translation, 1995

Tomas Tranströmer: the great enigma, Robin Fulton translation, 2006

Marina Tsvetayeva: Selected Poems of Marina Tsvetayeva, Elaine Feinstein translation, 1987

James Wright: Collected Poems, 1971

C. D. Wright: One With Others: a little book of her days, 2010

Movies:

All About My Mother: Pedro Almodóvar, 1999

Body’s Worth

Poetry

A passenger throws a red scarf

out the window of a car.

Body falls. Skins

the road, rolls into the razor grass.

Salty nest off nerves lies

summer scorched,

licking the surface slick

as verb. Slick as motion.

In this moment body’s worth

can be measured by the grace

of decomposition but

no one mistakes knucklebones

for relics.

Daytime full moon.

In this moment

the eclipse breathes.

In the next moment body’s worth

can be measured by the ripple of

stones snagged in the blood pool.

A previous version of this poem appeared in The Reverie October 2015. I’ve revised it a little 🙂

We Hold All of Our Hurts Together

Poetry

a handfull of darkness

serpent’s reach

the stars my destination

driving blind

heavy time

the new moon’s arms

adulthood rites

city of illusions

time out of joint

a graveyard for lunatics

i will fear no evil

words are my matter

midnight robber

conspirator

a maze of death

beyond this horizon

the godmakers

the crack in space

the cat who walks through walls

dreams must explain themselves

voices from the street

merchanter’s luck

eye in the sky

something wicked this way comes

sister mine

the green brain

the dragon in the sea

survivor

farewell summer

fledgling

double star

whipping star

lilith’s brood

stranger in a strange land

wave without a shore

A found poem made up of titles by Nano Hopkinson, Octavia E. Butler, C.J. Cherryh, Frank Herbert, Alfred Bester, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, and Phillip K. Dick

Sketch by Mr. J