Jessica Marsh


Christmas breaks up. New Years flows to the base of your skull. Then tulips. Running next to a car in your daydream. Car shadow flecks over the berm on the pith of the soles. Seam of concrete and world. We weren’t brave. We road in clean cars as far as we could.



Rust creeks between blots of green on the mind. Silt smudged and light between leaves. I never saw pictures of abandoned mines—just touch the rotting frame. Smell of long empty houses, walls growing wild. Detroit on the lips. Different swathes of old land fronting our thoughts. Wearing flannel about this. His silent Georgia is this city’s crush. The Mississippi coiled through treetop. It keeps time still, glittering and aerial.



She thought the laurel was pictures, but they cling to steep dirt. Where a friend once fell off, couples kiss on the rocks in the sun. Why won’t the mystery rub off? Leaving a party for air, then walking off slow. Trees in exhaust of the service entrance. Who gets lost to feel like a moon or a stone. Something held in surface value.


Everyone busy looking, measuring, sleeping. Everyone working and leisuring. Touristic questions run off with the rain from the afternoon streets. We lived straight through lacunae. The storefronts persist. You slammed the door, we forgot. It was nice.



Forgets that she’s dreaming. What language could this body form? Hips, sculpture, Emo. Adonis, never change. The allure knows it’s good to a limit. Suburbs, high rises, the difference, the same. She forgets to dream function.



Sidewalks until the day glows. Skulls fade back into Northern Renaissance art. Bones glitter with Mardi Gras. You fold up your eyes at the end and you hear: Moths at the light. Souls in the fog of sight. Hearts—folk wars in Rorschach. Each moth has a point about symmetry.



The wave just below itself. The wave with a tunnel. The story about never being refused. The wave inexactly itself. The whole deck of cards in my hand. The wave I noticed you. The other waves. Scuffed over and cold to the eye. The good sand was eroded and the buildings knocked over. This sliver of land was a setting. Our hands were so cold and our thoughts were all eyes. It was setting right to the horizon.



Enters through whispers of other apartments. In the space between buildings, I feel myself breathe. Coming alive at night like a third or fourth life. I study the wallpaper. It was cubist, alive. Passing from shadows to shapes at an angle. I read my name is everything I expect. I read, my name is everything I respect.



Walked toward the stream and walked near the trees. Slow stone over water, the close absence of walls. I ran down the art hills. Their cares are grown over or too old to be plain. Hand on steel. Hand on concrete in spilled light. A city in negative: green park where steel masses are planted. They age, painted red and yellow golgothas.



Autumn, structures all roughly the same. Trees shake their last life down. Our movements marked pathways that could be there. Brilliant red leaves tear like plastic. They clump like bright paper at the trough of the wall. You took a picture. It seemed bloodless. Photoshop.



What eludes a return? One said, locally occurring conditions. One said, life. The off-ramp splits like a leaf from a stem. That she lived here before seems formal and strange as a ghost. One said, redistribution. No one likes change itself. One said, agnosia. One said, identity. One said, dusk. The same buildings folded her onto themselves. The beautiful ones go on sighing.



Hollow water in the eaves. Everything valuable burning his eyes through a screen. A little ways off, the days are so soft as they weave. Barely against you. Again, someone says, there’s nothing quiet in listening.



Crowded airport, crowded train. Swathes of crowd rub in the plaza, sending up pictures. My heart needs recalling. I make do with a face in a dream of aggregate content.



It took us two days to drive to St. Lunaire. We slept in an abandoned grammar school lot. Vertigo where Leif Erikson set-up camp, the millennium’s edge as blunt as a field. We saw piles of sod, reproductions, a stuffed polar bear. Eight live moose, a whale, a red fox and a silver. Curiosities list. Every soul in the litany stunned, offered up.



Dark tonic, chord, chthonic indigo mood. What bruise? Googles bootstrap,  peeling away for a singular view. No protocol freedom. There’s a bronze bull downtown with no ring in his nose. He’s grown too big for a narrative structure.



The year was labyrinth dim. The walls were for leaning. Dragging speech back into the lung, so the eyes click to gaze. Call it fall, but we only knew harvest. Transposed with the shadows of leaves back into the room. Far from the land, I felt like a hologram. Partially visible, too resilient for truth.



Figure to the side. Serious light, curious eye. Guessing which action figures are clutched in which chests. Gathering day to enervate night. I wanted to laugh at the sound of my voice. Impulse chatters to sleep. I tried to see you as a center. Deflected, my eyes graze the fine, long-fingered hands of a statue.



Someone swanned out from a dock. I found the long days disrupted, cut by patterns of waiting. Tiny boats mark the distance. Jets cut lines in the blue like a thin shell of water. A summer lived in a puzzle. Trees on the lake. Dirt roads in the air. Mail on the table. Transmissions stirring the elsewhere at hand.         –


Jessica O. Marsh is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming with Flying Object Press, Lana TurnerVinyl Poetry, Patient Presses and Prelude. She resides on Long Island.

Images (In order):

Sampsonchen  CC-BY-SA-3.0  /  Sam psonchen  CC-BY-SA-3.0  /  Thesup ermat  CC-BY-SA-3.0  /  Rosino  CC -BY-SA-2.0  /  NewSpeaks  CC-BY- SA-3.0  /  Sampsonchen  CC-BY-SA- 3.0  /  Thesab  CC-BY-SA-3.0  /  Ad am Carr  /  Purplepumpkins  CC-by- SA-3.0  /  Daderot  CC0 1.0  /  Derek Harper  CC-BY-SA-2.0  /  MeRyan  C C-BY-SA-2.0  /  Hirotomo t  CC-BY-SA-2.0  /  Infrogmation  CC-BY-SA-2.0  /  Elgaard  CC-BY- SA-3.0  /  ManosHacker  CC-BY-SA- 3.0  /  Vinayaraj  CC-BY-SA-3.0