This Great Society - Writing


Illustration: Brian Rush

Jessie Gaynor: The Shpae of Things
Illustration: Brian Rush


On smallness

Timothy Donnelly asked me to name something tiny and transcribed my answer, rock-dust in the pocket of a forgotten oxford shirt. A place, a crumbling lighthouse on the Irish Sea. A voice, a gentle but hardened coyote living in Central Park. He covered a college-ruled page with my blurted responses before presenting his final category: something vast. A cookie? (A confected catcher’s mitt. That vast.) He would not commit to paper my earnest foolishness, even when I ventured these cookies, from the café just there (flustered gesture), they are right now the widest and most unknowable thing that does not terrify me. And now, the lighthouse moss patch instead of the Sea. The bandit coyote’s mate, who seeks her tortured fellow only in the grasses above 89th Street, only howls to herself.



You say
I lava you
I livery you
I Lermontov you
I Los Lobos you
I frontal lobe you

And I am almost certain
I know what you mean.

Only the pre-mutated
declaration folds my face
into that of a piranha
or a robot: ignorant
of probability’s scent,
crisp and bitter. Immune

to the rush of terror
flushed pleasure brings.



You’re some kind of polymorph, woman

through, or through. You’re shifting again.
Your eyes jingling like a pillbox full of straight pins,
I can only hear them because I’m looking hard.
You’re a worsted tweed for the everyday gentlemen.
You’re a hollowed bird-bone, in repose.
Sunglasses on the subway—unaffected Verlon—aggressive nonchalance.
The Shogun to my shotgun, the pillar to my pillory,
the Odysseus to my oddness. Woman, from the moment we know
we are finished, we are ready to begin.



This Great Society - Contents


This Great Society - Contents