Five poems // Jessica Lawson
Junk: A Pre-Nup
the undersigned agrees to leave behind nude pix in a beaded string
spray message folder folds a pearl neglect little blurred
rectangles unsettled grins displayed junk reminder without index
of fingers catching on washboard front that cunts the affected party
what is a body to do with heat and all this evidence
receipts the seam of its own bursting
trunk stuffed language till cup tongues rub runneth over and away
night the undersigned whispered her to cumming and i slid wet and new
from the skull of a death sentence a little one under signed you
are gone off my face love stuck under you affected face sticky
the bowl of my tongue curls as if a photograph burnt in anticipation of
your softest point inboxed cocked and ready but i am block blocked
affected i break to breadcrumbs as your cum scatters my tight cheek to stars
i am not married to any of this but it belongs to me unmined
a spittle thin string of legs and pressure i shudder the nerve that fucks
the air between lips and ears folds as well as if packing away
i ask on knees ship me the plates because i cant ask you to cum on my face
i open your nudes and my tongue births salt in one wet drop
Vessel: A Pre-Nup
the undersigned promises to build a concrete wall in the bathtub
choosing blocks or more likely the stability of pre made frames
pouring it in hot with space at the bottom for blood to travel under
the party affected needs this barrier to condom her pain
less than window well bridge but
will make concession for sake of that nether drain
night sharpens her fingers to needles against the wall
push through soft cavities in her chest her body becomes
the record of the holes she has carved
coiling herself into what is left this basin
puncture by light of the candle gas can
here among her ribs tastes her tongues stillness it is her secret handshake
quiet listen for bell sounds blood hollows
It’s all in the wrist I flick in guiding falling the rose petals in
a crown around the hem of my nostril. Is two
little empty toilets upside down on my face
and they are waiting for you.
I deck them like a bed I deck them cards I shuffle the petals hey here’s this heart. I flare
nostrils in sequence
flare a pattern like a marking in
the sky like code a morse of morsel light. I work
a circle job a rim jerk to a halt at red like a traffic light red
petals pedaling my face. Adorn like
a tree adores a leaf I leave two doors
to my lungs open the back way
from the front. Petals pounding
my sniffle twin holes where wet is a sign of illness.
I decorate my nose to invite you in.
In where I flare wide and exact cartilage. The fat thumb
of flesh at the rim of each nose hole I glue
tiny motes of red silk to tell do tell me. Your body
either shrunk or mine collides the scope.
A cold river and a tube. Fluid as is possible,
pore pocketing scent,
collect with woven threat.
I have this face that dries on a rack of words at night, like a washed bra.
The Fourth Question
Setting: The corner booth of a bar, seven blocks from the room, five months after the room. There are no alleys, there are no rats. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TABLE and THIS SIDE OF THE TABLE are sharing a beer. He is dressed in tight jeans, an impression vintage t-shirt, and a Mr. Rogers sweater. She is wearing a collage of inexact thumbprints, covered by a fine layer of wool.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TABLE: I had no idea.
THIS SIDE OF THE TABLE: I just began talking.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TABLE: I know, you know (reaches to touch her hand)
THIS SIDE OF THE TABLE: Know what? (lets her hand rot like a fish)
THE OTHER SIDE: How you must feel.
THIS SIDE: (the air before a sentence)
THE OTHER SIDE: Did you know him?
THIS SIDE: (the hole in her face releases a scent to evade predators)
OTHER: Have you told the police?
THIS: (her cheek is swallowed by a carnivorous pillow)
OTHER: (as if remembering something)
YOU: Did you say no?
(the pillow is the God of ideas)
ME: Woke up. Inhaled
palm sweat. Couldn’t
THE WORLD: But did you say NO?
THIS OTHER: (The pillow and my face made a fast baby
the baby loved to be held and to eat Crayola brand crayons
the baby wasn’t irritating
like a baby that cries
never any diapers to change
all its orifices plugged up
with rainbow colored wax.
If you are playing chess
about to win
and he puts a non-regulation piece
in the middle of the board,
like a pomegranate or a bomb
you think, “My God! Thank goodness I have a detailed
list of playing instructions!”
One of these days
its belly will burst open,
like a fist on the table.
It will stare up at you
as you call to your waitress
who rushes over
with a small towel.)
Calendar: September First, put on a clean shirt and walk thirty-five blocks to your building management office. Place the bucket you remembered your bucket didn’t you place your bucket on the floor and pull down pants if wearing pants up skirt if wearing skirt regardless irregarding irrerregulation length pull just pull down through the back cavity the bookmark god made in your body with soft tissues and automatic muscles pull down the work the work to pull down the matter with you pull down through the cavity the longest most smooth fat ribbon of shit into the bucket. Take a breath. Collect yourself.
Bachelard: This dream
made me a book tree
bark, scratches on the body
to wrap my limbs around
to stay that way
to say “home” until a bird appears
beak first and biting
between the shoulders
A scar is a shouldering
I wait each month to make
Calendar: September Thirty First, I was twenty bucks but I was thirty first, I woke up one day in my father’s house and smelled the regional specificity of birds and drank three glasses of water and rubbed my eyes and clicked my heels there’s no place like the internal revenue service. Pick up your bucket. Walk to your human resources office in little steps like mice make little dripping steps drops like little rodent holding your asshole tight and don’t tell your boss where the food came from just quiet like a mouse place the bucket on his desk. Use the screwdriver you also remembered to bring to unhinge your jaw make your mouth a snake the rim of your ripped open lips around the edges hedging bets of better bucket metal little mice like dancing in your chest hiccup hiccup a natural panic in the ribs hiccup hiccup at being unable the breath shakes itself loose in little chest tremors when there’s nowhere else for your face to move but pour now poor you pour your lunchward your lurch wad your downward your signal your descent your deposit in the bucket. Better companies will provide a complementary screwdriver. The tented skin of your mouth keeps the stomach acid raining in the metal tube from sending vapor to your eyes, but you tear up anyway, like mice in the blender to tear. Take the ribbon from your hair so your boss can hold it back. He likes that.
Bachelard: A nest is out
framed by nature
forever concealing twigs in plain sight
in the site that sidles god’s cornea
and as such
I learned to climb trees when Indiana.
When purity balled the familiar
tickle in my hips
lettering A, ladder leaning I made it
from my extra ribs
which is to say them all.
Nests are the ringing
in my ears when the door shuts
a tree in a forest I offend
the thick fecal layer to which I’ve entrusted
the guarding of my knees.
I am out.
Framed by nature.
Calendar: September first collect yourself, what was most recently you, what is now your naked cousin, coiling in a bucket, brown and wet like a new bird. This shit doesn’t fly. You are the digestive byproduct of this sentence, bucket list, such as it is. You are putting on the strongest smelling lip balm you could find. You are lifting. You are open like a hatch back, you are popping a hitch, you are gullet to air in the building management office. The administrative assistant straightens three pencils as your mouth bowls your warm waste. Deal with it. Swallow. Pay the bills.
Bachelard: I am in
love with this tree my father
turned me to to keep me
from rape like the rape
I nightmared years and years
but Edith Hamilton told you all
that already ate a hole
in my father’s cheek
for him to nightmare through
every time he warned me
to leave the house
with my nevers on.
Daphne pursued by Apollo ate a book
skin to make room
for the pages for junk
in her barked over trunk
her father tapped it for sap like
forever with that cane that sweet
that song I used to hum in my sleep.
Apollo type A like that
on all my papers
when daddy made me
for the nest
I can’t afford a day to seize.
Chug jug the fluid, little bird.
Calendar: September thirty first do no harm like that. Stagger lean to the bucket of chug. I like to imagine each month that the chunks are tiny little women on inflatable swans, sipping umbrella’d drinks and waving to me. Solidarity. Paychuck, half-chub boss taps that watch back that clock up you’s a fine father number. I got As in maths, I got maths in asses, I gotta assess the lay of the land of the dead of the dawn of September thirty first my boss hands me the small hose with the smaller tip and the individually sealed packet of lubricant. I say goodbye to the little women and bend over. I vomit enema as the month shuts its eyes and remember this beautiful thing I read one day in The Poetics of Space. I final frontiered my threshold I knocked three times on my head with a wall on a dick to the ledge where I’m hedging no bets but looking down to face the wind like the portrait of the artist formerly known as a tree. I make the money and the vomit make it stomach basic make it acid rain I spell my letters with the stubs of my fingers and call it payday till I hate every beautiful nest I’ve ever read and fallen out of.
Jessica Lawson’s poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Cosmonauts Avenue, The Thought Erotic and Dusie, and her reviews have appeared in Jacket2. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and is currently in the MFA poetry program at CU-Boulder, where she teaches classes on creative writing and LGBT literature. She is currently revising a manuscript about the downfalls of trying to power bottom the patriarchy.