a poem by JSA Lowe

JSA Lowe

JSA Lowe

JSA Lowe's poems have appeared most recently in Screen Door Review, DIAGRAM, GASHER, Hobart, Salt Hill Journal, Third Coast, and Versal, as well as AGNI, American Scholar, Black Warrior Review, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Harvard Review, and Salamander. Her chapbooks DOE and Cherry-emily were published by Particle Series Books (2008) and Dancing Girl Press (2015). She is the founding editor of Samsara Press, and she lives on Galveston Island.


dear joyful,

the blue crane whose mate was shot dead
lived alone for years on our lake
from then until now
a long stripe of steel gray in your hair
I ran too much current, too hot
through the copper coils wrapped around our core
that then snapped like a spine, ash incinerate
if the last gift you want is this one, that I should stay
away from you
you know by now I will give it






dear fifty-one,

never have I been the adult to wear a wrist-
watch, my godmother said why would
I strap a timepiece to my body
like a bomb
the head intestate makes ceaseless lists while the eyes
swerve, all I care about now is the pelican
adrift, folding its wings against
a shredded lane of the shipping channel’s wet
ink there was only ever one
last place to hide





dear foxglove,

paper masks litter the gutters, I can’t find
an unwrinkled selfie angle
wake in the night airless compress and say aloud am
I dying but it’s just
heartburn, I want to cut back, do less
but if I do less won’t I then
do less
she’s drinking a clear green South African
chenin blanc from an open-mouthed jar whereas I:
loathly, contained, risible






dear lockdown,

libido-throttled I make tonight’s bad decision
to drive, sex like vomit crowds my
throat my breastbone like you could rip up a rotted stump
by its roots
do you crunch through xmas trees longing for forest
see how HARM glows inside PHARMACY
get called sir in flannel, stare into the child’s face
you will never see again in this
life she put me inside her bottle but the lid is gone
and I still don’t leave





dear fixie,

as if her own heart had
fled her, for some of us life was never normal
I dream your husband drags me away to serial-kill me
huddled dull on the floor of his chainsaw safehouse ask only
will it hurt much and how long does it take
now buy coconut milk tea, boba an extra 50¢
clearly someone up and died because on the
beach a small crowd
lets go a cloud of Mylar balloons to drift
out over the open sea






dear subtle findings,

they dye your eye

with iodine at which point I realize I’ve only ever read myself aggressively

half-mocking, already defensive and snobby

probably put everyone off me

from the moment I opened my extra mouth
then wondered why they were so prickly, insistent on staying

estranged from myself, like that time

like the five bottles of wine on her

living room floor, four girls adored I thought I was

making friends





dear scratched cornea,

it’s not you, it’s uveitis from when the dog clocked
the orbit of my socket while we fought for the toy
steroid drops make bitterness

skip the back of my throat, I bend to spit

in the sink, think

did you miss any piece of this or is it just a
relief to have it gone

torn up, cancelled, jubilee debt, student loan

forgiveness, popped moscato, meantime I can still map

every sky-blue cell of your skin






dear mistress,

took after a bad habit of hammering nails into my own
hand, accentual syllabic, never knew
true rain came down in tones
lip the cool flat of her wax seal I pretend
the christmas card’s romantic

like the time I tripped on carpet into a student’s arms

(sinewy, warm) we both recoiled

his wrists wreathed

in blue tattoos I’m alright with my fight

fine by my fears and my queers and my tangles





dear ice storm,

gilt plastic beads clack against wrought iron
beach empty of krewes. in
the twelfth month of quarantine we all struggle but
mine has been thirteen. marry
an epidemiologist and change your life
yet we could not live with blood-hunger, parish widower
gas lamps gutter porches, a mantilla. you
know I am doing wrong and so do
I can any glaze or gauze
stop it up