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Five Poems, by Jessie Janeshek

Blue Eyeshadow Suicide Blonde

Hairbrush masturbation dark passage powderpuff jazz but I’m the same as I ever was grass skirts and red robes alone in my bedroom sticking clothes under pretending I’m pregnant something about diamonté windowsills, whippoorwills swollen breasts, sticky lashes feed the cats like they’re babies, I average three pageants a day. I get used to this mess the new normal cleansing my face a glass chapel with disposable alcohol wipes but you’ve got me worried about my bad energy looking out the window afraid to touch moths blood down my leg you say I’ll go blind from the movies so lonesome, devotion sundumb in the tennis courts untamed with chlorine-burn hair but if you’re smart you’ll see me overcome the big hill by my pink enemy’s house but if you’re smart you’ll be overcome by the two-minute movie my web of love on the Scopitone: I wear a yellow dress push daisies through my lips I roll in the grass with a dark man unarmed until sex is unnamed until water comes on until fangs take the heart of attention and he tightens the key on my neck.

(The Cat Upstairs Dying, I Meditate on) Lime, Sex for Money

You say it’s too late. I say the last day of her life could be quiet crime wave you say it’s not raining fill your head with canned pictures crime pays. Or it’s puffy horror and my coat sleeves get bigger as we move deeper into what we claim is pleasure. The truth’s in the toxins or the truth’s in the Hollywood Bowl. The truth’s in our wax heads our plastic skeletons we had a chance but we gave it up. I sleep in my eyemakeup I pull back my bangs I start the day with two tears and a background of flames. I see a ghost on the steps and I keep time in my sleep. I keep so much time for my sleep or I start the day in a long sweater with a flower surf song on the Scopitone just that and panties change to a sundress you mutter if you could get any more whimsical but the chopping takes you out of the equation. Cash, cigarettes the unwitting philosopher blur the cat cries the orange plastic snail a passkey out of range a blunt haircut dedicated to B-movies it’s amazing how a small screen opens this up and she’s dying but not all that loud so I listen to cha-cha to make myself glad. Note: Jean-Luc Godard’s film Vivre sa vie was “dedicated to B-movies.”

To Beat the Heat, Shoot a Squirt Gun

to the night sky but who has the time? It seems like all I do is wait for me or the cat not to die. I can’t weigh the options in the soft green-painted room. I’m already mourning with visualizations didn’t know the end was so dark two cheating people a faraway tombstone and all of those carwrecks trapped in my heart since all I can take is cloudy and cool. I lose track of washing my hair the black sequined evening gown with the false rose and the mask fits a dog or a doll but I didn’t think you’d catch on. It’s summer in the spotlight it’s a melodrama balance between making art and taking it off twinkling and cranking it out again and it feels safer to hide it from you behind the pump swings in my red majorette dress with gold buttons tawny in the park spotlight with the moths as the grown-ups scream into the void of electronica that the queen in the leopard bikini abandoned our lawn chairs or Hollywood for a pink grave in Pennsylvania or Texas a fight over the estate and all I can take is the clot that pretty petty head sliced off lodged and stuck in the windshield like a fat spider and I feel sick-sad for summer and smokestacks sweet cream and her broken bones and I’ll let you have her planchette I can’t help it and I’ll stop dragging her corpse to the Dairy Owl once the money runs out.  

Keep It Together

Constraint makes me honest at the pet hospital or waiting on the hot bench to be picked up after swimming more time to stretch time. I spend all day deciding I miss my Tennessee afternoon bedroom orange poems and root beer before I knew you and was loose about witchcraft. Density supersedes delicacy. I spent the days turned away from the salt unholy trimester cold feet but we need a flat yard for firewalking corruption sad caterwaul. I contextualized sex with teenage paperbacks stolen from Kmart prostrate after the hard-stuffed dog at the carnival. Maybe it burned like the wordlier girl’s pink-red bedroom. I couldn’t pronounce her name, Penelope I couldn’t live with the hot boy’s tongue inside me. I wanted to watch until I became her. How about we meet outside and trade stick-on earrings before either of us cares about sunscreen? I’ll explain how I’m afraid of that porcelain doll I’ll say how I’ll save money and the decision is final you could shatter the doll you could saw her in half on a striped towel in your father’s garage. I read some songs about sick decisions at the cat’s bedside one black glove one white glove one glamorous cocktail I think about being manhandled or married how our love wouldn’t stand such a strain—  

Party Girl

Sometimes it’s better to watch something in color not feel hooked or ashamed. All of your lies are big like the movies but I’m tired and useless sweaty, untamed halfway through the summer half catharsis talking tough in silk and sequins half euthanasia. Maybe I need midnight lace dirty daze to change my possession maybe just drive maybe I need to give up and give shape put my axe to the wheel of the time-lapse and grind or just get amnesia. When you live by the river you can’t walk at night the air smells like fish you eat cakes small and cackle in your purple corset. Split-screen teach me how to shoplift and wear lipstick queen of this or that talking tough with sequins on my sleeves the queen of no right way of sleeping her life away and it’s no surprise I’m not at the ocean and it’s no surprise my life is small poison I live by the promise of ice cream next to the smokestacks. I read lots of books think lots of puff dresses. In my old car I think like a pig. I act like I miss you in my hot pants and bra quiet bottles of strawberry nail polish. I feel better reading about death in terms of science with a host’s introduction I feel better color-noir with blue balloons my fire and ice séance high-waisted bikini since who could leave a girl named Angel Eyes? My ovary aches but I’ll make my escape taking only small doses of Hollywood Babylon Fatty, Virginia Rappe Olive Thomas’ blueberry, mercury eyes. I’d like a difference in form some bright blush or a pink opera cape some being alone is authentic enough as real as a cat’s yowl in this, our July-time of sorrow.



  • Jessie Janeshek is the author of MADCAP, The Shaky Phase, and Invisible Mink. Her chapbooks include Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish, Rah-Rah Nostalgia, Supernoir, Auto-Harlow, Channel U, and Hardscape. With Jesse Graves, she co-edited the literary anthology Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers.

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