Jessie Janeshek – 5 poems


Close-up, Diurnal

                        The mini ice-age

the disco ball bracelet              my feet on the blue wheel

I choose to obliterate        in the room with the old globe dolls

and outdated computer

            the green play hairdryer           the storm coming on.

I choose one of your mother’s stale cigarettes

            connect the buzz funnybone   to my pretend sister.

We wait for the storm              or we wait to play

            after the storm             inside each other’s bodies.

I tell you the story       of the indoor/outdoor

Niagara Falls swimming pool.             Paddle under the bridge

            you’re out in the cold      but the water’s blood warm.


                        No pool today. Post-mortems are poisonous

but they look like achievements          when you’re not paying attention

            such burgeoning hips         the drugstore’s orange price tag so bright.

Come in to my hair salon         behind the encyclopedia shelf

we’ll argue which of my grandmother’s discarded wigs you’ll try on.

            Dig in, let the sludge song evaporate.

We’ll play with the gas mask, imagine I’m dying.        It’s festive, cicadas

            plop in the river. Something exists that didn’t and hadn’t

a tropical corset, your hands through my hair.


                        The sun’s coming in    around the storm clouds.

Your cousin makes pizza, barely speaks English.

I say call me Harlow                Monroe in rock gardens

low moments like this    are part of the mastery.  I say post-mortem me.


Note: “Post-mortems are poisonous” is a line from the 1932 film The Crash.



Commitment Semi-Permanent (Stylized Supernoir)

I wake up skinny                                 hair smelling of lemon

            mouth open, bruised yellow                and white lady toner


            leaving no room                       for moonglow ponies

black noise, inspiration                     the dead older sister’s

            cloudy prom photo


            and it’s back on Lake Melodrama        (take the body away)

back into a platinum                                    criminal investigation

            of the red-sunglassed girls

stealing my freezepops                                                thinking they’re stars.


                        Granted the soap operas          ivory, ice bright

pawpaws and pot                     we took for granted

            your pink scarf                         my stoved ankle


how to play Hollywood           under the deck             in the rock garden

            at the end of the driveway       and the glittery lunchbox

my brother       beating me up.


                        Our childhood psychocode

more nuanced than film noir               short races on roller skates

            with wooden legs         my fear of religion       yours of purse spiders

we incubated, combusted        as the helicopter          looked for the body.


            Years later a bearskin rug        no bikini          no bra top

but a sharp fireplace                and my hair is expensive          like a bright light confessing—



Lake Melodrama/Good Riddance

            So averse to moving                green sludge on the water                               

the photographs in polka dots                         and I don’t want to get run over

by someone else’s story           in the doll museum      the baby stars who saunter

                        my hair at least still golden     

down to the shore to practice.


                                             I call it bridal posture

a cenotaph, lit candles             impatient in the black room

            the secret life of sluts.             I call it assemblage

daisy-shaped sunglasses           the red jewel of negation.

            Sex is a broken record             no good place to hang


as you fuck away my faith       my peek-a-boo bangs

            my luminal space.                    I use feminine wiles

beat you off with the French phone.               It’s self-sabotage

            or self-preservation                  daily meditative practice

my grunge-girl shorts high-waisted

            my green lunchbox                  your black dog             all the apologies.


                                                        We climb in the paddleboat

                                                                        forgetting what it feels like

                                                                        once it starts to snow.


                                                I focus on this failure              the turtles in the water

                                              the greasy hands of summer                        the white van rolling by.


                                                                        We fuck in the car       drinking penicillin

                                                                        and I still believe in death


                                                                                    pink moonlight on your carcass

                                                                                    the sunset in my breasts.


                                                                        Trouble is I can’t sleep

                                                                        without the bear lamp on.



Corpse Flower and/or the Strange Lives of Starlets

It’s the best way to lose days               fleas                 a slight headache

            baby stars dreaming baroque               and I have to start somewhere


            dried blood up your nose         and in your long black hair

the hive’s primary purpose      a green-sequined bow             

                        even when darkness prevents your excursions.


Sleepy bees become sloppy                 waste time and energy

            battle against               our will and within.

                        You look like a pin-up             eating an apple

            and I need to revisit                this overcast day.


                                    You bury a body                      in your bathing suit

            you bury my lunchbox             my black and green cry

                        you bury my brother                beating me up.

                                                            In penance he gave me a puppy.

She lived here one day until breaking the door in.       The cicadas are dead now.

                        I’ll be old when they come back                      self-incrimination.


                                    I hate your sparseness             your heart-shaped sunglasses

                        your superstition          your voice but I have to start somewhere

stabilize fragile moments         neuron by neuron        not wish between trees

                        for these stupid hours.


                                    My dolls will be gone before money comes in.

                        Summer walks with fear          Harlow kidney disease

                                    poolside thieves                       horseflies thinking.

                        The baby stars pose     like three Grecian sisters

dream basically: a color           a number         an odor of blossom

                                    and that little voice tells me


                                                   you’re too weak to enter          the stories of others

                                    the blessings of manslaughter

                        but can we consider                 this one a film noir

                                    if we dig up the body?


Note: A few concepts and phrases in this poem were taken from the BBC Earth article “Bees learn while they sleep and that might mean they dream” by Alex Riley and located here:



Bikini String Noir

or what the warranty                           will not cover.

            Rain evaporates                                   back into the weather

                        your spirit goes viral

the black wooden giraffe’s

                                                knobby legs rock the shallow end.

                                                The pink-faced girl bites my hand       as I change her diaper

                                                asks, what does your ribcage say about you?


            I receive fear               a blurred mugshot                   

                        cupfuls of liquor          tonsils too big

tartan tanktop and panties       a mantrap        brown lipstick

                                    I reorient.        Celluloid hovers


                                    and what are you doing    with dolls in this weather?

Crab boil or blood boil                        making them handkerchief      dresses in swamps

                                    the cat’s eye ring strange        

                        fake hats and fake crotches     spurring us on

                                                white-haired silent pictures.


                                                            I’ve got the picnic

                                                                  you bring the vicissitude

                                                            a deep-fried crippled creature

                                                                  a cigarette totem

                                                            ripped jeans and bleach.


                                    Dry off, break off, what’s an elegant woman

                                                in a blue plastic box     jumping beans or a leech?

                                    Remove us promptly                           climbing time.


                                                                        The gun is an autobiography.

                        It lets goth and filth soften blows.



Jessie Janesheks second full-length book of poems, The Shaky Phase, is forthcoming from Stalking Horse Press. Her chapbooks are Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia (dancing girl press, 2016), and Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming, 2017). Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010) is her first full-length collection. 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). Read more at



About gobbet

gobbet is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the very best experimental poetry and prose. Intellectual perversity and explorations of dark themes are positively encouraged. We are only interested in work that is progressively experimental. We want to see risks, and we want to see them pay. No previously published work. Prose should not be longer than 1000 words. There are always exceptions. Send 3-5 poems. Include a short bio. Send submissions to Work will be published every 5-10 days. We also intend to publish anthologies of selected work published in gobbet. We will do our best to reply promptly. Most submissions will receive a decision within a month.
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