I must have fallen in love with a romanticized version of myself, like flesh
through a flower
when I looked in the mirror today, I was an eye adjusting to an old photo-ID card under
a crush like feeling the sidewalk through the pink gum
of deep-fried shrimp
crushed into said sidewalk, in a landlocked town.
the moment I knew
a long walk wouldn’t help, that “horses fuck inside me.”
so I threaded something like “feed me to the forest” through my voice, & I hurled it—
upward—at the sky—all sky—
—a caw unhinged from its crow. & in
a downward spiral
landed in my coat-pocket, where it re-stitched
into a warm handful of present tense, like the reassuring try of a hand on your shoulder
following a surgeon’s poor prognosis:
as one part ghost / one part compost: yield architecture of an “I”
no one can archive.
& what if life is just that: living against the rendezvous of “a landscape has endless false
you, yourself, you’re just another je est un autre,
a landslide’s lesson: convulsions of convolution: pulses, pulverized.
it’s not lost on me what thanks I owe this drain whistling the tub its newly-wrought body.
I want to be the lost thought of waste water.
I want to catalogue “there are so many little dyings” through earth, as caricature
—some face to raise the dead from.
“it hardly matters which is death.” if hurt becomes the earth, at least we’re the holy
contractions of that.
tonight, I’ll watch a river gristle through a fjord
& think, a liquid’s slow rorschach
chews mystery through a water-riddled ear. it whispers “I.” in squill. quarry. squall. quill. scrawl.
an echo, likewise of skull.
exactly what you emerge as: my mosaic: my mesocosm: my likewise-echo: my Skull-Etcher.
I could say to you I don’t need you. but the echo of its diminishing returns would persist,
the color of a forecast, returning, diminished.
exfoliated as a geode
—it’s true, a town may need a river to forgive the town, but out here, towns rain on rivers &
we are broken like the rain; not broken
like a bone.
where you are is where you remain: opposite of weather: weathered.
& you are not lightning, no;
are not lightning.
++ + ++ + ++ + ++
of slime & bones you are,
just how those “oozy woods which wear”
into the life of
things” we’ll see—
—see that bird outside the window
lightly pecking at the
grass?—in the sunlight, he becomes
& the air around him
shimmers, like glazed ham
as he sings his pretty hunger-songs.
later, a cat will puke up his skeleton,
eat grass, & bolt
down this hillside, having re-imagined
a stomach-ache with:
that push, that pull
across a wilderness
the “I” cannot exist,
& yet, refuses
Jake Syersak received his MFA from the University of Arizona and is currently a PhD Candidate in English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. He is the author of Yield Architecture (Burnside Review Books, 2018) and several chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Verse Daily, Omniverse, and elsewhere. He edits Cloud Rodeo, co-edits the micro-press Radioactive Cloud, serves as a contributing editor for Letter Machine Editions, and co-curates the Yumfactory Reading Series in Athens, GA.