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Four Poems, by Jessie Janeshek


The Descent of Louise Brooks Matches My Mood

all the way back to the sad thirties westerns
the progressive coloring is too much
this blue sequined curtain
use a stunt double       pipe in a new voice
I’m not coming back
behind piepan moons
I’m not leaving the red beanbag
or the white dogs of Brașov.
The day before yesterday
I said it like I meant to
mother/daughter twins in the cornfield
repelling each other like magnetic ballerinas
trying to bury the skulls of my fanclub.

My ovary hurts from masturbating nostalgia
every night new murders        crackle on the sticky tape
but missing girl whirls are my favorite
and I would say thanks for your long-term relationship
but I just wear a long black coat
try to mouth pearl necklace without laughing
drink gin and eat turtle candies
think how my intelligence means nothing
think how I’m no one until I get sued.
The home for wayward girls is orgasmic
kaleidoscopic with the hoofbeats of soup spoons
a yellow dumbwaiter
an emergency exit for each plastic room.
It will be dark this time of day soon
I spend a lot of time up here hot and dizzy
zipped in your sleeping bag hiding my wounds
then I go out in my grandparent’s yard
in my Canary Murder Case suit
it’s colder than Washington State
the lawn and sky white         the man with the motorcycle there
and all of you keep shooting arrows at me.


Louise Crooks/Watermark

No, I am not logical
I couldn’t finish the book on nostalgia
but I could curse my output   my hearse charm bracelet
the scaly skin on my breast    but I could cast my orbit.
No, I don’t think I knew          what diegetic meant
and if it’s not on your own terms       how would you tell it?
Look at the flagpole, the pelts
red pants and the hearts on her shoulders
the cat’s last soft drop             how she walked down the highway
how he opened his eyes and saw her suspended
over the bed like a doehead
her diary pink as a hotdog
the pain in her leg switchblade-transcendent

I whip round and round
I’ve not found the key
I want to be her version of a thirties co-ed
the one who tells futures, hangs over the sea
dark in the New Jersey summer
her silky robe her nice dress for class
it seemed like her mind vanished.
She said, Take a photo of the moon   but just let me in it.
her costume jewelry left in the grass
her life sweating fever
walking off ice cream
a picnic beside us       watching the snuff film.

As a woman of a certain age,
I have no purpose or pain.
We were all young then          open-faced and kinetic
saw the suicide view
coming in        coming in,
like a dark church in Italy
where women piss down the drain.
Atlantic City, the four trophy girls
buried with my hairstyle        he painted each of us as a clown
I guess I saw it coming
whether I died in the quicksand
or from a stopped heart in Rochester.


Louise Crooks/So What Is Your Daylight?

Two sisters sit in the lost wine cellar
drink from the candelabra
lower stakes—my grandmother used to call it a snuffer
kitchen-gold brocade after we had snowball fights in the flowers.
I took the time I’d spend walking you through
in a sailor suit with my imaginary son
but what to pretend? That she’s a kitten again
flea scabs falling off?
That ice cream in the basement matters more
than a Fibonacci sequence of saddle shoes?
The country club is closed
but they let us reenact
the murder of the white gardenia.

You’re so good at satin melodrama,
I want to watch you every day.
It’s easy to forget the cat is going to die
when she looks you in the eye
so orange       so pretty and clean.
All of you make small things into big things,
bad poems in the woods   a visage of piss
paddle on my ass     I’m just trying to tell you the truth.

Maybe it’s my time to find a religion
glitter all over the incinerator book
I wear a long black coat to hide my bloat
I memorize the lemon song in Latin
I will never forget the suncatchers
or the switchblades in the attic
being locked up there all summer
the deer bones and the sandwiches—


Lulu Lunar

It’s a long-ass day labyrinth.
We have to work fast
old bottles of Exclamation   and/or Designer Imposters,
get with or reload the program,
jangle pop and orange bangle bracelets,
our mother’s mushroom smocks in the rear of the closet.
We keep the lovebeads closest
but we won’t keep having summer forever.
Soon we’ll get tired of the lowlands
and our basement’s all folklore.
Dead cats roam everywhere.
cigarette satyrs ulcerate.
Old channels crackle. We ask the Ouija the date.

Why isn’t it enough that the deer each peaches
from your trees every night?
Time’s too short to sleep.
Remember the hot nights in Tennessee,
fancy swims, and hot tire movies?
Remember your worries
but also how you fucked in the theatre?

It’s hard to understand how to live in the present,
be happy in a bikini.
Bad cells are spreading everywhere.
Sand in your mouth.   They could find you beaten
to death on the beach.
Blood in the summer flood.
Cut you open/take out a grapefruit,
stitch you back up       but you might meet a rock star,
wear a cuckoo clock necklace.

Niagara Falls, you stayed awake in the hotel room.
Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum
right down Lundy’s Lane.
Wound care was instinctual that first night on the sound
the way the car seats cupped us/made us feel safe.
For me, being happy means the hope I could be someday.
You say being happy is like a Venus flytrap.
I mean getting eaten is your favorite part.


  • 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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