“No sense like license”
on a vast little plane of hostile wonders
as day or daylight
by the scrub jay and her supporters
whose episodic memory is said to be a stunning
like that woman we never knew
where to go
or what to do when we got
there diligently copying the masters’
for a few cents and a bed probably
blond or blind undecided
leaving no stone unloved
ousters questers quitters all
like butter in our determination
to never die and just go on ahead
at some idiot
nankeen trousers. Your realism
would send anyone to spasm.
the service dog
refuse to serve?
I will steal everything Old Navy has
to offer and still
come up short
in the unoriginal gargle of the wave
receding from the shore
in the rough applause of pines
we’ve had enough of
if and when
the wildfire attaches and
in its rush to ruin the tiny actresses
to bring the play about
under their curls
of smoke. That’s a metaphor
if I ever heard one.
like the line of mortal sweat
you wake in
cast as duff
you can’t control
if the phone’s too near its cradle
to speak its piece.
The Uber comes to chase
the Minotaur to his hedge
leaving us eccentric
This is going nowhere.
The excess peplums (plums, pearls)
from someone else’s poem
are just a distraction
How little we know
about the soup that is served
at the daycare center
Does it meet our needs? Wants?
Desires? Here deer are sparring
We call this grabbing at straws
with wooden spoons
but I don’t hate speech
just its bloody show
when the going gets ecstatic
I can’t embody anything imagined
because nothing new is really nothing known
nipple to nipple
the gift of gram turns
out a distraction—or outright
loss of function
(bowel, canal, commode)
I could take you anywhere
and yet I choose
to prefer not to
though I know I’m not the first
to exile the dog
against federal law
from the car when it arrives
to take my body to science
and finds it’s all
The early adopters
have won the day
in squirrels, rats, and wrens
were we not
shown the way
to the hayloft?
Say something. I could go on:
The slave university thinks it’s brother
to us all
own conclusion for good
and all of us a meme
next the ear
as the belly of content
from which it shall be rent.
Why not state the obvious?
Hasters gotta haste.
You wouldn’t say you wouldn’t stay
but swallowing the hay-
seed became too difficult.
How much the past has come to define
when we call the clouds “Turneresque”
in the middle of a gale.
I would have to read them all
from “Fallopian and What For”
When did the world first go to the dogs?
I mean when did the glacier take out the main PO
whose people long ago threw in
the towel? All the entrances to the tunnel
are flooded to keep us out
votes scattered behind sheets of PVC
There is nothing to be done in this version of history
as petrified forest
but scratch. We know time’s lazy
collapse When latex snaps the bitter trees
What shall we do?
To the players go the spoils
and the grass that writhes underfoot So
if in the transubstantiation of materials
to an odd-toed order
we turn fond of our systems but don’t believe them
significant, aspiring to the church of quiet sanctuary
to witness, register, mother, who enters
if only to exclaim “Mmm—mine!”
The proposition lasts longer than the chorus that greets it.
To see is to belong
to the genus chrysanthemum
hospitable if a little sour
getting no closer to the hour
when Trotula the doctor will be in.
For time travel is formal (story all one)
as horizons retreat repeating
when the animals come to lick at our feet
in the ER, the OR, and the rave
The egg ovarian arrives by Greyhound as a guest
mistakes our vermin for pets
then bursts almost naturally
song. For everything inside the egg is personal
I couldn’t stand aside if I wanted to
Meanwhile the scout returns with nothing to report
falls off her horse
Some women only want a love note to engorge
this foreknowledge of fate
Me, I bow like a break in the Oroville Dam
So multiples stand
at the spillway, I
make stuff up but so do my friends,
cutwaters like gladiators
plowing the sea.
leaving it all behind.
like wishbones in the heraldry of dull afternoons
white bison glass over
the Last of Helena’s Chances
Do you still want to go there
with your needle-nosed pliers trained in the shape of a hook?
Melania, blink if you need help.
The meal refuses to cook itself
The beaver tail will never be done
to our satisfaction
When the polar ice melts
the bears come into town
For power sees itself coming.
You arrive by palfrey
but must sooner or later dismount
give up your purse to the riposte of compost
interpreted in dance by an ad hoc band
all big shoes and pleated skirts
What makes you think the Rostovs any happier
in their peasant getups
than Kadiddlehoppers in their bright rigs
eager themselves to take the stage?
It gives you pause because
arriving has to do with satisfaction beyond the status quo.
Here the frame tale runs out of gas.
Citizen author stalls in her crusty cap
The ivy envelopes us in green twilight mesh
a lull in a tumult unless
we come up with a gist for this pulse
the nurse will soon be taking
hand over fist like the rope we pay out
to secure our place on the pile
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again
The traffic on the rim has come to a halt
without satisfying our place in the world
If there’s going to be trouble
You’re my bitch now
And I’m the Queen of Sheba.
Meet me in St. Louis, Lois
we’ll call ourselves we and take it from here
to Were you there
among the rubberneckers? When the saints came marching in?
If you think we don’t suffer making paintings of suffering
Get your head examined by a cow in the labor of throes
whose headdress is a crow
deadname the deadnamer and hope
squatters don’t follow
How it ends you don’t
want to know
Jean Day is a poet, union activist, and editor whose Daydream is just out from Litmus Press. Recent poems can also be seen in Chicago Review, The Delineator, Across the Margin, Open House, Breather, and Jongler (French)--as well as in her Triumph of Life, soon to appear from Insurance Editions. Earlier works include Early Bird (O?Clock, 2014) and Enthusiasm (Adventures in Poetry, 2006), among other books, and her work has also appeared in many anthologies, including, most recently, Resist Much/Obey Little (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017) and Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America & the UK (Reality Street, 2015). She lives in Berkeley, where she works as managing editor of Representations, an interdisciplinary humanities journal published by UC Press.