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Jessica Lanay

Issue One: June 1, 2018

A Poem About Loneliness

This is a poem about loneliness, it is a self-conscious poem, a stomping through space poem, with not an ounce of poetic subtlety. I am not a poet who is good at burlesque, at gradually slipping off veils that billow seductively at some truth revealed, some secret— this is not a secret, not a valve, that palpitates and closes, not a nervy cervix; I mean to hold up loneliness as one does a snow globe, a bit of miniature kitsch, swirling in a silvery patina, a tear of craft glitter stuck on the white of the eye, which you will try to rub away, but simply enough, I am lonely, like a mirror facing a white wall, or the snow globe with the tiny city inside, but cracked, leaking baby oil, left to seep, and what about it—This feeling, weeping into the niches of everything— since this is a self-conscious poem, without any ending punctuation, only prepositions and commas, it is also selfish, and puts off deep breath, and there— just there is the trick, if this poem, which stomps, with no subtlety, makes you feel as if you have to gasp, then my job is done, and hopefully you have had a second of loneliness too, the kind where your heart syncopates to a spinning fan in a dark room, and now, I feel a little less lonely, because you’ve met me here, in a spot I cannot measure.


Dream Pastoral with Bull

My plow is spotted with rust from the rain. I hitch it to my hips, bow my head, and set to splitting the tight earth. I do this until the golden horns of sunset bow to meet my common horns.

Then stumble—weak—muscles squirming, not towards the wild garden by the newly filled creek, but to the dark barn. I stuff myself with dry grain, fall into the throat of exhaustion, sleep there. Then I dream; I dream of my plow.

My Father says, “You are made for this, made for hard work. You will never want.” But, oh, I want. I do want. I do not dream of the apples there grapes there blue corn there fresh water there I will not drink.

I hear a bird pulsing or maybe it is a woman screaming—either a bird that sounds like a loud clock or a woman screaming. The green pasture hides what seems to be a fact of nature. Tomorrow, I will return to the plow.

The plow handles, made of wood, split and slide into the skin of my hand. I sweat down my flank. Foaming at the lip, and at the bit—with want—

as I push the plow that is a rifle that is the plow that is a rifle that is the plow that is a rifle that is the plow that I suddenly want to turn on myself.


And Then There’s

I. After I left you— (the punctured bathroom door, the caved bookshelf) the silence tufted sea urchins in all the corners of my room— you run down the wall— mouse up the clock— or your name shouted into the dust, an imprint on the wall—mouse down the clock—

2. In a hard bed with polyester sheets, I tell a lover, who I fuck, once a year, about the universe: I say, imagine a bookshelf is the universe, I say, with three books, each book is a different time, now put your ear on one side, now knock against the other side.

Were you in between, could you hear me?

3. Thinking of you—a hammer slapping in an empty gun—all the light in our room looks like something wasted, lying spine to spine, shelved things; you aren’t him, but I fucked him longer—loved him a third as much.

4. Feeling like a leathery sea creature—beached with mouth facing a monsoon ocean, falling apart in tufts of quiet, seagulls hungry.

5. He says it was like a dream, tilting back my head, finding clusters of purple nail marks from you—he grabs me there, tries his fingers— they aren’t long enough or big enough.

6. He does not mind when I say your name, this is why it works.

I go in public with a bruised mouth, drag my shame through a town

no higher than a steeple, wearing men’s boots—keening,

trying to rip up quiet like an old phone bill.

7. Once a girl put seaweed in her mouth and mine, told me it lets us breath under water, I tried, and when I almost drowned she said, you are not that goddess.

The air inside of me is not phototropic.

8. I dream of swimming for too long, too far, I wake in the night—finding I am falling from mid-air.


JESSICA LANAY is a poet, short fiction, and art writer. Her work focuses on architectures of interiority, escapism, history of psychoanalysis, and southern culture. Her poetry has appeared in Sugar House Review, Fugue, THE COMMON, Indiana Review, and others. She has work forthcoming in Prairie Schooner. Her short fiction was most recently published in Tahoma Literary Review and Black Candies. A short autobiographical essay was also published in Salt Hill Journal. Her writing can be found BOMB and ArtSlant. She is a Callaloo, Cave Canem, and Kimbilio Fellow; she is also a 2018 Millay Colony Residency recipient.

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