h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s






Tool for Machine Operation in Modern Times.

Cooled down in jelly. A metal cyst.
Pry off the hex part and throw in tool can.
Where all the done tools call. Time on a radiator.
It kept falling out of hands. Fast taught, fist taut.
Boilers fuming in other building’s dump
keep this fussy work. A tough punch card.
Wrestling for a lute. Where’d the screw pop?
Away with the curlers. Never needed no polish.
The solution was a misery kept tight.


Tool for Alexander Scriabin

Didn’t the dot dots? Flip further for flutter.
A sprain. A chord cluster. A color on the keys.
La la la and machina. Dilly-dallying
with a lower deus, a predetermined flop.
A skip crank. Didn’t the languor sigh?
Didn’t lilting get done? A minor mutter.
A lullaby latch. Roll the prelude.
Roll it black and keep.


Tool for Better Mileage

Efficiency din. A swallow of swallows.
V gets you from A to Y. The long canyon,
chalked in torque. Foothold a canopy,
crumble down arachnid. Up is a contusion
with eight treads. Stanch the cough.
Flung plumes in a garbage echo.
Been not. Have hold. Larynx sprain
but treble. To be. Arm unbent to reach.
Finger touch on yellow. Two. Broken yellow
for clearance of time. Four. A waste
of wind. A branch further out.


Tool for Pool Drainage

Of gutter. Of oil malaise.
Trip to trap is an intestinal cavern.
Canvas. Knotted tubes soaked.
Fondle the grout grid. A drooling
unknown dropped to ten. And then.
A water procedure. A cerulean blue
in the eye. Star gaze the chemical content.
A wincing cut, a flailing shard.
The bare limb of it all. Blanched in pumps,
an excess picnic. Bucket it down.
Pill the damn porch.


Tool for Picasso’s Carnival Hacks

Harlequin dummies. A lizard skin flight. What
loops the voles bore. A dessicated canvas crusade.
Count the grommets. Count the funny barns.
A sight on the jet stream kitchen. Hard-knocks
stainless chenille. Fire the feather brigade. Forget
the Fritos. It’s a no-wash night. Keep it sooty.
Keep therapy mean. Translate: take these tights and sauté.
Not a carrier. No way a feathery bridge.


Tool for Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”

An electric flute spouting keys.
Helium harmony maker. It lilts
to silver weep. Organ pipes. Key girdle.
Guitar string sprung. The leap train has left.
Water drips past hat. A hat parade.
A station to station kind of feeling.
Plank on the floorboards. Rotting beige
to blank. Wipe the paisley. Wipe down cot.


Tool for Disaster Footage

A stoppage. Claim to right to sever.
A crash fire, a latex burn. Nothing medicinal
brushing velvet. High-rise shame.
Rebar to redolence. A famous filter jack
yielding dust. Fast chasms of ruin. Disparity salute
in gray. Sterile syllable gap. Gasp,
a pucker needle. Wonder window slice. Puff
of electrical shim, and slip. What a weary
century. Glass of the silvery, plastic to malign.





Restraint, above all, must be consensual.

A slow pressure of hands lends a calmer sense to urge.

This one, he struggles but collapses in a heap.

The other, her eyes glitter – the shadow of palms, she imagines, creeping over her feet.

Caped local heroes: where are your villains in this nadir of crime?

The feast is too easily consumed, the rat now a privilege to harbor.

Empty oneself of the usual ambitions, better employ that thin rag called a tie.

All favorite film sequences are spectacular but untrue:

The best traps are hastily set,

or worse, they’re only one in a long line of bargains.




(After Mary MIss's Pool Complex, Orchard Valley, 1983-85)

Giving up on the pool
meant giving up on the complex

of vanished luxury, how ivy
flourishes just as well

in leisure's wake. The mass
of age-ruined tiles suggests

how to retreat properly
into wilderness, letting go

of safety and surrendering
explicit purpose for augury.

Rusted pipes, rusted pumps,
the graceless lunar surface

of an emptied swimming basin—
the place tells two times.

Its sunken walls snake
through the insistent forest,

left to indulge itself as dull,
a wound on green. Follow it.

Take the absent robe off the hook
and cover yourself. Concrete cleaved

and mud-veined, the weird
unwatered expanse articulated

with timber: a tall row of bare wood,
a circuitous boardwalk, the plain

square pits for socializing.
Don't worry—no one sees you.

There's nothing chatty here.
It's no one's special party.

Nothing but the reek of humid soil
and the rapid panting of locusts.

Nothing here that's finer than nature
acting as the ocean's necessary surrogate,

the important middlingness of it all,
the way things get washed out

with an inevitable lack of restraint
letting anyone in, and any thing.




Bio: Jessica Baran is the author of two poetry collections – Remains to Be Used (Apostrophe Books, 2010) and Equivalents (2013), which won the first Besmilr Brigham Women Writers Award from Lost Roads Press. She is a freelance art writer and lives with her husband and
four dogs in St. Louis, Missouri.


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