An Abecedarian of American Sentences as a Summary of Intrinsic Motivation
All day my heart is a snake, molting skin it is not ready to shed.
II. Backyard Sanctuary
Bees abandon the weeping bottlebrush tree, dive-bomb the pool at dusk.
III. Call and Response
Courting peacocks strum feathers, rattling themselves into resonance.
Departing its summer surface, my back zests itself like a lemon.
Elephantine with the twin tusks of guilt and relief, I walk the dogs.
Forgetting my mask because it has become like my keys, I check the fridge.
Getting on my red soles, I catwalk the runway of this apocalypse.
How the Thai noodles tingle on my tongue, left on my doorstep still hot.
Interrogating the floor, my feet blister faulty jurisdictions.
Juvenescent garden, planted for triumph, where is your promised yield?
Knives dulling like minds, bread throwing off its crust—this is a rebellion.
Lodged like a branch in the dying orange lawn: that fucking iguana.
My epidermis prickles, poked with heated, invisible toothpicks.
Note how stone crab claws are delivered now to our own private hammers.
Over our heads, the outflow of disturbed air is almost visual.
Pencil of my spine, write my muscles into bold, capital letters.
XVII. Quirks of the Season
Quixotic hurricanes are Greek theater, curtaining two alphabets.
Repel the larvae of army moths, whose mouths suck this new sod like suns.
Sewn by hand, a curtain I long to close, my crooked face hangs on screen.
These finger flinches, these jellied knuckles, these wincing palms, such shy alms.
Unmasked and helmetless riders roar by on motorbikes, percussive.
Vivid odes erupt from the sky as planes runway, circle, land again.
When thunder voices disappointment, then leaves, a cloud-father follows.
XXIV. X Factor
Xenial custom for future pandemics: Bring your own forks and knives.
You rise from your dense mud-slumber, come back to life without asking why.
Zombie-minded, we are the past-knowing, post-dreaming generation.
Jen Karetnick’s fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020), a CIPA EVVY winner, an Eric Hoffer Poetry Category Finalist, and a Kops Fetherling Honorable Mention. She is also the author of Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023). She has won the Tiferet Writing Contest for Poetry, Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition, Hart Crane Memorial Prize, and Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, among others. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has had work recently or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Cutthroat, DIAGRAM, Jet Fuel Review, Notre Dame Review, The Penn Review, Ruminate, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. See jkaretnick.com.