These poems by Jessica Fischoff capture fragments of experience as they rush by, changing and transforming before our eyes: “…Blue/ is red is a pointed rooftop is the undefined/ gradation of smoke is thinned air…” Their wisdom is that in doing so, they transport us to the center of stillness, which is love: “the world brings us back to the space where ice/ is art and art is you reaching for my hand…”
These poems are part of a selection set to appear in ATM’s forthcoming release: The Desperate Measure of Undoing by Jessica Fischoff.
The Desperate Measure of Undoing explores the feminine through mythology’s influence on the contemporary world. This collection of poems examines how the stories and truths of ancient women resonate today, and how the human condition, as a whole, is rooted in a timelessness beyond the confines of any era.
The 4th of July in July
Three mushrooms later on the 4th of July
and the fireworks are a diagram to live by. Blue
is red is a pointed rooftop is the undefined
gradation of smoke is thinned air,
traceless breaths and the sun
tried to stay awake to wish you
Happy Birthday, America, but you were late. Our skin stuck
the rotted railing, and a walk around the block
just brought us back to where we started.
We should have been inside
in this forlorn heat, not the back alley
of South Pacific Avenue,
a naked Christmas tree wedged into a rusty dumpster,
as dead and brittle as the bones of our forefathers,
the asphalt paved in potholes and
the freedom to avoid them. But,
in the melting haze, I swear that you smiled
like none of it mattered, and that
I tried to peel the apple into a fish,
all gills and scales, belly-up,
to sink myself into the narrow
core of the river, to redirect the current
by pairing my knife. I’ve tried to outrun
the mystery of how waters shallowed,
into final breaths, I turned the apple over and over,
liberated the skin, claimed the undertow
as if it were a tree to hang from.
I’ve planted seeds like bones,
watered the beginnings, prayed for a skeleton
of roots to grow from the humbled earth
that knows no difference. I’ve bitten
into rotten fruit before, split danger
with my tongue, been baited by the supple bend,
and for all that I’ve apologized, I can’t stop
shaping things I know I’m going to throw away.
You’re closer now that the weather has abandoned us,
the insulated tent of this beer garden a thin membrane
between love and the elements, the heat lamp a heart,
the string lights, veins. Let all patios laid in cold, flat stone
be rebirths, defrostings, so that we might smoke together
again when the world brings us back to the space where ice
is art and art is you reaching for my hand, gloves drawn
and the warmest thing I know is never letting go.
Jessica Fischoff is the Editor and Owner of [PANK], author of the the little book of poems, The Desperate Measure of Undoing (Across the Margin, 2019) and Editor of the upcoming Pittsburgh Anthology (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2020). Her thoughts on editing appear in Best American Poetry and The Kenyon Review. Her writing appears in Diode Poetry Journal, Fjords Review, The Southampton Review, Yemassee, and Prelude.