sighing gets us no where — every day trains pass through the sunless corridor of a very particular kind of failure — I go back to where I came from: the mediocrity of highways, the emptiness of a bench on an empty golf course, pissing in the holes with the half moon trembling, this can’t be right — I know the hand that traces your hipbone — but frankly, I was just loving a shadow of myself — in letters I ask: would you like to go to the seaside & throw stones for a while? or fuck in the creaky space of a telephone booth? could we listen to “out on the weekend” while driving along fields of hay bales & salt licks? is it the length of the world that bothers you?


my mother wore the high sun on her shoulders — at a drafting table in the basement, she made technical drawings of airplane parts for not enough money — she’s inside of the trouble I have with flat grey skies & the jokes I rarely make — was haunting, she called it, past participle such as “was loving” & “has loved” — I often wonder where the sadness got lodged in — where it sings from — why it eats all the leaves down — in her twenties, she felt the spirits kicking under the bed, woke to the sprung hairpins rearranged on the dresser — was visited — then she walked through the kitchen of a church where her friend lived, every cabinet door flung open — it was then that she used her own eyelids to call in the dark


roaming a long time now — my blood murky with too many stars — loaves of bread hardening in the night — the glove compartment full of pointillist maps — to the untrained eye, becoming someone gives me something to do: a sparrow trapped in a coffin


the shadows of his face, the fast pricks ( so . . . breathing through tiny holes ) — the knuckles that keep her jaw closed — when I think of myself a girl, the distance she feels between her body ( coiled up like a baby snake ) & her spirit ( coiled up like a baby snake ) — skip fast to something better: mother cow, the crisp ridge of a paper airplane, an embroidered tulip on the breast pocket, the world is only a peach pit — the therapist: feel the edges of the chair, then: name five things beginning with the letter B: bars, 11 baby teeth in a clam pink Bakelite dish, the twine that splits her in quadrants — at 11, she is a swan who has lost her neck, whose feet hang from my shoulders


we are in a grocery store in Akron, weighing peaches — in most aisles, we feel a glare — I hold her hand even though I am also letting go — an old ruin is inside me — a holding cell at fifteen, the feel of a jammed up air duct — white enamel chipping off the bars in little slivers, bars that vibrate cold through my teeth when I clench my jaw down — just as clover cloaks the foothills & there is a sense of basic goodness somewhere


we find pleasure in a cool alleyway after the bar lets us out — the want waiting on the tongue inside of everything — my aching awake — I move in & out of her, coil what I can get of her cropped dark hair in my other fist & she stutters, spits, turns against the wide pores of the brick wall, arching the small of her back, moving her ass into my hand — until now, just another day of the light entering edgewise, half closed eyes, a key that ruins the lock — but in the dampness of cold leaves she shows me a simplicity — not the blueprint — but the stain on the fingertip as the map

Gabriel Jesiolowski’s debut collection of poetry, As Burning Leaves, won the Benjamin Saltman Award and is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in April 2017. They work in a counterdisciplinary practice using installation, interventionist strategies, painting, printed matter, and text. They were a 2016 MacDowell fellow and currently live in the San Juan islands.

3665 Brookside Drive

Brookside: a street of ramblers with close-to-the-ground profiles. No dramatic features. Held in between the highway and golf course. You could zoom in. I can’t remember the sky at all. But I can remember the mailbox with the folk style drawing of a deer being led on a slack leash. The hand that led the deer had long fingers, oval shaped nails, and floated with no wrist, no arm. There was an above ground pool that came from my father’s childhood home on Villa Drive, in Pittsburgh. It was made of drawings: deep blue boomerangs, repeating in a tight pattern. Mostly there were leaves that cloaked the surface. The trees were oaks, pines; they were simple trees. No matter.