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Jessie Janeshek :: Six poems

Madcap/The Dracula Scrapbook

             It became a time          of touching up nails
fastidiously                  the search for resonance
            in today’s emergency
the forcing yourself to the end of the murder
            the self-guided tour
or railroad fever, willful thinking
            horseshit and scars
and I cannot say          I get the folklore
                        one subversion a month
            butter rings in the soup
the no time, the tap class in Omaha.
                        I don’t like the wood waiting
            but it’s not you I snap at
the putting away          but turn the heat down
            pine needles stabbing me

in the child-sized coat closet.
I am not the one          to start the oscillation
           with the small dog on Water Street
all the way to Nemaha
            but I hide all the lipsticks
            and I once thought the dredge
was a person.
            I photograph better
in my Girl from Missouri
            wide black and white hat
and you ask if I can send you
            a penis of the plains
while men try to be big with religion.
            Light-haired girls look the best
in soft icy colors
            and every once in a while
I want the moon and get tired of hating the flame.
            Every once in a while
I want to be nude        in art-deco newness
            change the color
change the veil                        between me and depression.
            There’s nothing left but getting laid
drinking bloodsmoke on late-night TV
            a bad taste in my mouth
but this isn’t rock bottom
            and is it hunting season yet?
A cold sky       a white-tailed white light?

House of Wax/Hunt Seat

The pink fades pretty quickly              in a general sense
            light-haired girls looking good
in soft, icy colors                     on their dead green skin
                        stitched up like November.
I give myself no time               and I curse the time
            in the grey bathtub      hot sausage and dogskin
Nebraska northward          boxcutter/boxelder
            and necrotic signs.       I slip up           smear my cum
            on the wall of the living room
set up the Predicta                  TV hissing a flame
            leave the garbage to rot           in the kitchen with peaches and crème.

You make a nest of my deaths and my chrome
            my mushroom necklaces, dreams
forget I was excited once.
            I wore skeleton gloves and danced like a swan
                                    and you curse my interests
            my weird accoutrements          times I tried to shine
dead days and dry hair and heaves
                        and me falling asleep   in the wood-paneled room
in the grey vacancy
                                    as The Chordettes moan Mr. Sandman
            and of course that one bitch
                        likes the clocks turning back
little steps here and there                    tied up in the cold.
                        It’s bad therapy
            or I just stopped caring            be orchid/be cozy
and sometimes I bundle          vow to rise early
                        past any distraction
            and leave for the campfire
                                                and go ahead, run me over
                                    my soap operas went off the air.
            And sometimes I bundle         after a lover
                                    hope I don’t drip
                              hope I don’t chip off
                                    lilac fingernail polish
                              touching inside me.

Bathhouse of Wax/Madcap Comes Across

If you really believe in chaos                           then this is paranoia
            pretty god drawn and quartered
sometimes I bundle                 avoid any distraction
            vow to leave early                   dream of flowered waters
                        but now it’s white pills                        and the holy standard’s
getting fucked against bauxite             flat numerology
                        clawing the mahogany bar
they brought in one piece on the train car.

            My brocade      my high-waisted          velvet pajamas
the dampness of the cabin       making me sick
            soft numerology                       making you slick
too many old fashioneds          so let’s sit at the campfire
            and say thank god the jockeys

don’t have a key          but the hounds still drag me
toward my crystal ball crack-up           Carole ends in an e
            and I’ll have a reason          even on the dead beach
to turn back the clocks                                    pin-curl my hair.

            I found my art-deco heaven    in the Predicta TV.
I found my oasis                      it broke in half
            profane angel on your fingers
true confession slumming        or dogging for quartz
            the centrifugal way                  talking ghost stories
ash blonde in the arsenic         blood and lead spring.

            One spring is not         electromagnetic
and I’m the tarantula girl                     high-hatting on caskets
            and I’ll hike     to your liver or kidney spring
my pubic bush like the forest              queen velvet of rabbits
            messy orange paint opaque                 
before Florida was invented.

                                                I’ll be buried in a sportscar
                                                            the formaldehyde will wipe
right off your fingers
                                                            since comedy is a long-shot
I don’t need     the tragedy face.

Bathhouse of Wax/Arkansas Quartz

Have you ever lied? Have you ever lived on the wings of sin are death?
            Have you ever fawned, found your art-deco heaven
diamonds washing up when it rains.
            My fur and skirt burst into flames.
I glance up from my work                   expect a man
            with a knife standing there or a crown.
He ties my fake wrists             I’m not leaving the bathhouse
            damn my privacy         I’ll fuck the dead chief
spider spider inside her                    I’m hot and leaking        

you hate me since I’m brave
            or since I sit     on the face of the girl
                        at the rock shop           lick bauxite
in the alien light           of an art-deco night
            the salt-scoop of the bathhouse
sweating it out             as if you can be saved.

            He ties my fake wrists             we burn holy standards
the ghost of my manicure        but have you looked at me with lust in your heart
            a mercury rub or a camel twist?
Drugs on the saucer     footsteps          or death wages
            diamonds washing up when it rains
they don’t look like diamonds             there’s no time for thinking
            flicker faint and thin               
                                                and how does the heat know
                        like a monster or an old lamp
                                                and have you looked at me with lust in your heart
                        like something coming inside me.

Bathhouse Wax Snap

                        To Lombard is hard.
To be Lombard                                    for up to ten days
            you go outside                         the glow-in-the-dark blood
and a dance seems important
            but it’s absurd to wear pink beads to keep the appointment
to drink modern wine when screwtops come too high.
            Say hello to the speakeasy
red-stained hydraulics              soak w/ baseball players
            drink the tureen                       of vapor soup at The Aristocrat.

                        Hot Springs baseball black
I fuck Lucky Luciano              the ghost of Russ Colombo
            I lift myself                              out of the tub
becoming Catholic                   as my sleeping pills strangle
            my family ties. I could tighten this compress
of time on my forehead           ditching the nadir
            my naked bod              my forehead lines
and why aren’t the bathhouses open at night
            marine architecture      his funeral flowers.
            I dreamed of a snake   fake wrists
and his house               on bathhouse row
            and the rapist would really      have to be something
to climb up these hills after me
            and if you really believe in chaos
this is only paranoia                 but it’s hell to be afraid
            of fox skulls and vodka. The foxes plant
their own gardens        and I stay in them so long
            little mole bones get caught in my hair.

Madcap One

I’ve seen enough of the vapors                                    I’m ready to scream in the lake
            okay by my coarse dress                      okay by my lies
so many razors                         some better than others
            lavender platinum                    and soft hogs so thick
to touch up my manicure                                 you hate my solitude
                        and it hasn’t rained in a month.
I roll myself in faux fur                        across the false crystal mine.
                        What pigs did I even               try to say bye to?
Will I cry for the veins?
Will I cry for the vapors?         The park ranger left his bad taste in my mouth.

                        Nails and tails              look better done
            but hell I don’t bother             to wash my face.
                        Draw me a bath           I’m not socratic. I’m not worth
            dressing up for.            I look best as a pink ham
                        draw me a bath                        in the sassafras dressing room
            not as elaborate. Give me a tax break.

                        I’ll don your toga         I’ll nap in my decoupaged coffin
psychotic on Templeton whiskey        I’ll fuck in any language.
            Draw me a false bath                           on the wrong map
                        draw me a diamond.
            There are crystals inside me and balls             but the hall of rocks
closed like it did in the 70s
                                                and I’m comfortable with the limits of my history
                                                and my suicide             is its own excuse
                                                and I’ll leave you my best liquors        not the guest soup.

Jessie Janeshek's second full-length book of poetry is The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press, 2017). Her chapbooks are Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia (dancing girl press, 2016), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, 2018), and Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming). Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010) is her first full-length collection. Read more at

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issue twenty-seven :: January/February 2022

  Christopher Patton :: Glitch Apple Howie Good :: Three poems Kenneth M Cale :: Three visual poems Christian Ward :: Three poems Matthew Walsh :: POACHED EGGS Jeremy Scott :: Five poems

about :: where is the river

where is the river :: a poetry experiment is a bi-monthly poetry journal open to a variety of aesthetics, forms and experiences, with a preference towards showcasing work by emerging writers. There is no single path, nor any single way. Founded in September 2017. Edited by Kiefer JD Logan.