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  • Jessica Lawson

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

Scene 1

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.


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)

THIS: Yes?

YOU: Did you say no?

(the pillow is the God of ideas)

ME: Woke up. Inhaled

palm sweat. Couldn’t

move arms.

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,

spilling guts

like a fist on the table.

It will stare up at you

eyes wide

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

perpetually peripheral

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

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

a tree

for the nest

I can’t afford a day to seize.

Chug jug the fluid, little bird.

Carpe jugulum.

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.

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