"A Burn a Burn," "Medusa's Snakes Simper All at Once," "Alleged Pedophile Rode His Horse into the Polls," and "I Came to Explore the Wreck"

A Burn a Burn 

Winds kick the radius of flames further.
           An ember can carry half a mile
                        or more, a small whir of

the bigger fury settles in some elsewhere
brush, nestles in wetless

leaves and renames them so thoroughly
           that they transmute into change
                        agents themselves,

like mediated accusations sprout legs
and sprint into silent houses.

Alarms clang. Small whirs

of fury. Call a burn a burn, a spade
a spade, abuse abuse. My parched

                       land with its wide stance
            and its hands open—my parched land
and its wide maw gushing smoke.

The fire front shoves forward. The fire front
            is indifferent to decorum,
                        shoves into December—

the fire, clueless and brutal, colludes
with wind, melts fur, melts skin,

                         shoves panicked animals
            onto our asphalt, our domestic
quietude hurt, alerted.



Medusa's Snakes Simper All at Once

Coeval of language, sex is another strand
in the braid. What happens when the spin
inside girls starts early? Hushed tones.

Dogged pursuits of worthiness—hurt
simply by cell division’s false separateness,
yet swimming, still. All legs egg-beater

the same soupy context. That is, this
shared slog through the universe
belongs us to one another. Romance
stays the culminating narrative
in any story with a female lead,
so we seek God
on the lips of masculine counter-
balances. Kids discovering masturbation
are catastrophes of anticipation; blooms too

early beckon too broadly. Empires
of men pulled down throats, the cold clang of their weapons
unfastens us

one nerve at a time
from our contexts. Sex, sentences,

separateness—woven. At six she planted
the personal massager at the apex
of her thighs. Something to do

in private, the mothers said. A lesson in
subjectivity. And boys made off with whatever

their eyes were given. Lest we lay our gaze
too plainly on the young curl of petals. Early to bloom,
early to wither. Too much love becomes a film
on a woman’s skin—she becomes barely
visible beneath the litany of kisses, given,
received. Given voice, intimacy is
a nimbus that pricks any eye that seeks
to linger on a girl’s body.



Alleged Pedophile Rode His Horse into the Polls

                                    and lost
squat in the hedge-maze of language
politics he’ll stay, his body & lawfulness
buffered / buffeted by the echo
of yes he did / no he didn’t

a video advises me to trace a light
line around my vermillion
border to appear more
youthful around the mouth

the THC I’ve eaten
leaves me senselessly wet

when I tell men I was
raped / assaulted / harassed (eliding
the agent as convention dictates)
they want the context—where was I
what was I doing how did I sit what was
I wearing the incident the rapist and his
name are buffered / buffeted
by their context the chief context being
                                    my body

At a Ship Island birthday picnic
the weed made us horny
and we talked for hours about fucking
under the relentless sun
held hands in the yellow water

can you imagine women who love sex
& sometimes, still, say no



I Came to Explore the Wreck

[Teachers say]                     Sink to the placid
                                bottom of your chop-
                                topped stormy

Sunk, I think—that is, cartilage creatures
teeth-fight, bulbous mines sway, tangle
in kelp. Just a nudge and they’ll rip open
the ocean. My issue is that language froths

in this sea of me, too.
Still, I sit:
                       Letters, tensile
                       let themselves
                       snap apart,              constituent


                        across the oily surface,                  tumble
                        scum up the seam

                        of ocean and land The sun,
                        the sand. Letter-lines

                        spread their towels, uncurl
                        under an August sun,

                        but luxuriate too long—
                                    they crisp, stiffen.

                        Unkempt kelp, letters stitch
                        earth and sea together.
                        Plastic snags on them—
                        wrappers, packaging.

                        Edges, receptors clogged.
                        And under, sunk in me,

                        hulking whales lose course
                        among thrum and thunder

                        of merchant ships—
                        their songs drowned. Finless,
                        sharks sink immobile
                        to the seafloor. These truths

                         in me, I sit.
                         In the stillness at the seafloor
                         my monsters can’t keep

                         themselves unbodied.
                                      Contexted, fleshed out:

                          hungry and rubbing
                          their hooks against

                          my arms. Am I the water?
                          Sliced, sluiced, fin-slapped—

                           irradiated, oil-slick, and tangled
                           with plastic, am I

                           sea monsters robbed
                           of context, or am I

                           constituent with pollution? I swim,
                           panicked, back to the shore,

                           yanking wave after wave,
                           like a blanket, to my chin.



Jessica Morey-Collins received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she won an Academy of American Poets award, and worked as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. She currently studies natural hazards and organizational resilience in the University of Oregon's Masters of Community and Regional Planning program. Find her at www.jessicamoreycollins.

poetryBarzakh Mag