Girl + Muse =

the title poem of my chapbook Girl + Muse. Written back in 2009ish, my pre-grad school days, this poem is over 10 years old now. Still love her very much.

Read the full chapbook and download it for free here.

Girl + Muse +

morning. We woke up

and you performed

another extraordinary miracle:

wings split

the paper thin skin

taped across your shoulder blades,

your wet spine

glistened through jauntily

angled prisms knotted

to your ribcage

with flayed nerves

and slippery veins.

As you flew around the room

you said: “No. That’s not how

it happened.”

I woke up alone.

*

Photo by 🇻🇪 Jose G. Ortega Castro 🇲🇽 on Unsplash

Lupercalia

The title poem from my chapbook Lupercalia. Written back in Fall/Winter 2010 when I first started at Goddard’s MFA program. That means this poem is almost 10 years old!

Lupercalia

Last year the city ran down to the frozen river. She threw her face against the rocks, the tatters of her brain crystallized as they oozed from her broken eyes. When we found her we combed the tangles from her hair, rose quartz stained with a grey sky kept us fed for weeks.

Now, what’s left of her slinks through the night like a wolf and you can only see her out of the corner of your eye.

She has not yet forgiven us for the highway stretching on and on forever, crusted with burnt-sugar kudzu and the bones of lovers who will never return.

This year I eat a salt cake in her honor and burn my tongue in the tiny campfire my mother taught me how to make when she and the city were so very young. I pluck out my eyes with the last of the winter roses and let their thorns curl down my cheeks.

Next year, when my voice returns, I will cut it out again.

Read the full chapbook here.

Photo by salem abu al qumsan on Unsplash.

The Promise: a grimdark dystopian short story

The Promise

a Short Story by Jessa Forest

Download your free PDF version of this story here.

Disclaimer: this story contains the death of a child and detailed descriptions of sickness and gore. Please read responsibly.

When I woke it was not from sleep but a dreamless poison. The fog was thick when we stopped and it must have crept in and thickened when we were too weak to stand or notice, too weak to get away; smothering us like an insidious, sentient tide, all cold hunger and keen thirst.

Barrow, lying next to me, did not rise and never would again. Her younger brother, Potter, whimpered softly in the cold crook of her arm.

“Pyre,” Coffin’s choked, coughing voice floated above me like sunshine above a storm. “Can you walk, Pyre?”

Continue reading “The Promise: a grimdark dystopian short story”

Namaste Apocalypse: a zombie/yoga short story

Namaste Apocalypse

a Short Story by Jessa Forest

If you’re interested, you can download a free PDF of this story right here.

And now…bring your attention back to the present moment and sit up whenever you are ready. Next time you feel inspired to practice this sequence, consider going out barefoot and dancing under the bounty of the full moon or the light the sun shines down to us through her divinebeauteousness,” the soft breathy, melodious monotone of Lucky’s husband’s voice made me want to puke in my mouth.

From Corpse Pose, with all my attention glued to the creaking of my ribcage as my bones and cartilage moved with my breath, I felt irritation looming up like a malevolent zombie hoard.

You try going out barefoot and doing yoga on the rocks and spilled blood you stupid rhododendron, I thought.

When I was little my mom told me to substitute every bad word with the name of a flower. When you get a tranquility lecture from someone who never had to leave the confines of his wife’s meticulously manicured yoga studio and spa attachment and had no realistic grasp of what the word apocalypse actually meant, you can’t help being slightly prickly.

Continue reading “Namaste Apocalypse: a zombie/yoga short story”

Poem of a Poet I Admire

after the death of Wislawa Szymborska

February 1, 2012

I take the petit four

of your poem and put

it in my mouth,

let my tongue soak it up—

soft words

dissolving

soft as a

spring weekend

—inhale the sugar flower.

The decadent scrim

of icing glosses over

everything.

The sun rises and the sun

sets and I eat

this cake and you are

no longer here. In this world

a violet grows at the edge

of yard and street,

efficiently crystallizes

into another poet’s

greedy panting

despite your vacant house,

your supercilious cat,

and your mouth that

will never eat cake again.

I am eating

cake and I am not

efficient. Pieces of your

poem clot against my teeth

and I cannot speak.

*

This poem was first published in Requiem Magazine and appears in both my chapbooks. I put it in both Girl + Muse and Lupercalia because I love it and the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska very much. Saying I love her work isn’t enough, really, but it’s the best I can do now.

When I was growing up, as a baby poet in college, surrounded by all the “great voices” my creative writing professors had raging boners for told me I had to read and respect because they were the great, white male voices, Szymborska kept me out of the mindset of conformity and academic elitism because she wrote about real struggle, real human suffering so perfectly. Her and Ginsberg.

Note: My grad school professors were much better than my college professors.

Here’s an article from the Poetry Foundation about the great WS.

Here’s my favorite poem by her.

*

Photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash

I just want to say I know the cake in this picture isn’t a petit four. I scoured the internet looking for not copywritten pictures of petit fours and couldn’t find one that fitted my feelings. This cake works. If you have a picture of a gorgeous, yummy pastry, please share it with me. Thanks!

Check out my chapbooks here 🙂