How Long?





The virtual center of memory recommences in a sonnet my mother and father are there riding deadhorses when I touch down in Chicago it sounds like the backfiring of a gun. We live under its trigger shadows so I start driving my car toward St. Louis. In a room there the vine spills down the terrace work of bricolaged steel, trellises in air. I am inside the dirty aquarium, softly blurring. The murkwater thickens into a skin of greeneaten algae that suppresses my father’s screams. I am a paper wrist writing a poem to him about all the neoclassical ruins sunk in the bottoms of Louisiana. The sea. A deer hunter I know holding a rifle murmurs “Faith” in an alien songvoice. My father is a classical wrestler doing sit ups on the green. He is sweating and tugging at the corners of a grimace for strength, then he’s screaming “I never laid a hand down on her!” Jesus parts the clouds and watches indifferently. I tried too hard to make it fit but nothing rimes with the.

Gunshot.

I am downed in a field of softening feathery weeds beside the rest stop outside the city of archways? I watch the city of the moon illuminate the trees and fall through the delay effects of light. It’s getting darker the raindarkened moss color is climbing inside my body my mouth is torn corners and tastes like the spaceship tones they melt. Someone’s voice is saying I never wanted you whose voice is that, but I know what to do: the trailer is on fire. First think of all the books you know with the word for that big ugly line dividing us. Agamben says that the word person comes from Mask, as in Greek tragedy I skipped a step. The bole of the tree shimmers its glowing expansively. I don’t want anymore room. It’s just like the ghost my mother saw on the hill in GA where gravity reversed, just a second. I’m going to crack the window in my car.

Step two: feel for a dent in the table it reflects the top part of my brain which was scoopedout. I’m fingering the trigger of words nothing comes. Probably because the witches killed you, she says. Thank you I say this is a helpful orientation for when I lost compasses. The cornered automaton doing its impression of bowing is wearing a mask which seems excessive. It’s all jerky movement as it leans towards the most insufficient part.

A foreign personhood I guess I didn’t want one neither.

A song called “I’m so happy that you came”

ImsorryigotsickidontknowwhereelsetoturnTo

The ignition. The engine overturns over it’s exhausting when it combusts inside the body, singing “loveyou loveyou loveyou...” it felt good to throathurt, guzzling cold coffee chewing styrofoam, rumination.

My mother looks like a floating storybook ghost wearing a white lacy bioluminescent night gown. Thanoluminescent? Thanks for coming!

You’re trying not to say the most important thing. Yes I was scared I’d end up where you go.

Paperdolls a folding fan. Cut a jagged edge.

I was worthless until I told you I love you—thanks for giving me something to do with hands.

Who embodied friendly shards

The really embarrassing thing is I didn’t know until you told me, then it just made sense I really believed in this dreamworld we were living in & out

Flying back from Denver it was so fast the body is an avalanche of lightning. I’m holding, shred apart

When I walk around in Berlin I remember a broken table in the street she’s singing we break bread his body and eat there in anomie smiling I know I was really there I find my face.

It takes hours when I drink it fallsback off I thought stitches had more integrity. I thought they had more to do with when Lacan says, when you hallucinate, reality is speaking. The inexpressive face of god tore gold hinges in my vision. St Augustine wants to know how he’s outside the outside. Where do you go when you recede? Into an alveole is it next to this galaxy? Are you resting

The worst thing is thinking I know how I look when I slump my head crestfallen face can’t make eye contact directing a monotone reverb at the floor cracks. Nobody wants to see you like this when his palm hits my forehead is that when I’m awake? Or is that when I lost the surface. A glass diving bell I’m in Minnesota I’m in North Dakota searching for missiles beneath the snow drift I’m so afraid of

What do animals do? Make noises in the ground—it’s frozen.

I felt so much guilt it felt like sin, wrenching away

If I don’t carry you who will carry you? At the human factory, at the tree of life, in GA, she delivers a screaming cabbage patch kid doll from the crotch of ancient-plastic rootwork. Why from the trees? She’s wearing a white nurse uniform and a hat like a small paperboat. A thick syrupy southern accent they’re my favorite. Ripping the body up the mandrake root. I understand because I’m breathing. I won’t pick when I go back. I accept that.

Please I ask the nurse teach me how to edit my poems. Because this is a real mess on the floor, I am kneeling beside it trying to stem the wash of debris.

“You are not the operator,” she smiles.






Jessica K Baer received their MFA from Brown University in 2017. They were born in GA and grew up beneath southern power plants. They have a poetry chapbook with Magic Helicopter Press (Holodeck One, 2017), a science fiction chapbook with Essay Press (At One End, 2020), and a full-length with Apocalypse Party (Midwestern Infinity Doctrine, 2021). They have been included in journals such as Prelude, Pinwheel, Bathhouse, Baest, The Tiny, and Bone Bouquet. They love horses.