Poetry — August 13, 2013 13:40 — 0 Comments

Three Poems – Jackson Burgess


Shakespeare and Company—May 21, 2013

You are not here in these book stacks, Selene, nor are you under my tongue. You aren’t between the legs of a pretty girl in the city, and you aren’t in these chapels like tall graves. Walking along Montebello, I watched a man undress a mannequin, softly, like a lover of fifty years. He pulled her slacks down over her thighs, exposing the cup of her crotch. The man did it with care, like he was holding a bag of glass. I have never undressed a woman like that. The tour guide told us last week she had her purse sliced open with a razor. I pictured its guts spilling out in the sun. There is something sweet about girls with real French accents, Selene—something you will never have. It’s the way their English stumbles out. Bashful. Beautiful. I will never be beautiful. I will fill my wounds with pulp. You are not here in the bookstore, Selene. Sometimes I wonder if you’re anywhere at all.





The kids are playing games with broken glass.
The poets are marching into the sea. We are
hurting each other with bottles and fists;
street people are cutting themselves in public,
pouring their guts over cardboard signs.
We crave this symphony of wine and sewage.
Maybe people think they can dream their way into peace—
some kind of piss-stained Zen on the sidewalks—
but they’re wrong. We’re hands beating love songs
into drywall. We’re rain punching holes through the roof.
We’re black phlegm . . . or steel. Syringes full of sparks.
We’re stained glass scattered across the floor.
The children are kissing us on our eyelids.
The poets are cutting off their hands. Sometimes God
is the needle that slips between my ribs, and the needle
is a switchblade, and the switchblade is a stick of hot wax
wicked into shape by wet lips. The wax is flecked with bone.





Paris—June 10, 2013

10:37 in a bar in the 11th with two empty pitchers of sangria and a room full of topless manikins, and some guy is up on stage, just wailing his heart out over a background of flamenco guitar and tenor sax, and the whole place is woozy, swaying with the heat. August is nodding his head, and here’s a man in a suit to my right, and a hippie to my left, and everyone is golden in the faint damp night. Smoke is trickling in under the doorways, and cars cruise by like they have somewhere to be, but no one has anywhere to be. Everybody’s here. The moment is eternal, as we sit and wipe sweat and wine off our faces, and suddenly the song ends.


Originally from Olympia, WA, Jackson now studies Creative Writing and Narrative Studies in Los Angeles, where he does rain dances every night (to no avail). He co-edits Red Sky: a Literary Journal and Fractal Literary Magazine. At USC, he’s been mentored by poets Cecilia Woloch and Mark Irwin.

Leave a Reply

What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney