“Painstaking” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

Mermaid - Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, 1862 or 1873
Mermaid – Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, 1862 or 1873

Birds, bones, mermaids, brains in jars… these are all things we love to see in poetry, and they’re all here in “Painstaking,” one of the 5 Jessie Janeshek poems featured  in our Fall 2014 issue.

{ X }

   YOU SAY THE ONLY GOOD BIRD’S A DEAD BIRD
when Sunday’s are empty
and most girls crave a witness.

I fill the oven with muscle
   hope for a mermaid, a nursemaid
   to spread the stovetops with slop.
   I give myself leeway
   to leaning into bone
   on the outskirt of meaning.

You shove my head in the lake.
I let the algae dry on my face.
They gawk from the swanboat
as you ride my dark part
the brain in the jar
the key to keep
then I crawl in the treehole
cheeping to bleed.

{ X }

jessie janeshek headshotJESSIE JANESHEK‘s first book of poems is Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). An Assistant Professor of English and the Director of Writing at Bethany College, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. She co-edited the literary anthology Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers (KWG Press, 2008).

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