Jake Bauer serves as Poetry Editor for The Journal. His poetry has been recently published or is forthcoming in Forklift, Ohio; Threepenny Review; Thrush; DIAGRAM; The Bennington Review; Poetry Northwest; and inter|rupture; among others.
One day I gave him paints and scrap paper so we would have
some finger-doodles for the fridge and when it was our turn to host
the spring croquet league my husband could boast, All originals
by Mr. Child Prodigy in the playpen. After, we were surprised,
but it was nice of Linda to invite over her friends from those New
York galleries. We had a few of my famous Rosemary Pimms
on the patio. And when they said his pictures were like a neo-Gorky
moonlighting as Mehretu, I just smiled— anyone want another?
No one could have turned down that first check—forty-seven
thousand!—but soon they started to read his work biographically.
When they intuited the wobbling of his parents’ marriage,
how his baby sister was refusing to be conceived, he cocooned
in his insecurities: wouldn’t leave our closet for entire days,
coated his body in white, rolled around on canvas, and responded
only to “Captain Ghost.” The reviews, though, were rave.
Even after the divorce, more checks, but still he was only
eating bananas and getting in trouble at daycare after he learned
the word fuck shockingly quickly. So I took away his paints.
It was the only choice a mother had. He tried committing to
sculpture and installation, but, no, the critics were not pleased.
His thin body was all shaky. Then, when I discovered his final
painting, an image of the silence our voices speak into the wind,
done in our dog’s blood, it was remarkable. Stunning. Staring
out his window, the world, then, seemed odd, like someone had
brushed it in green and silver, like there was a voice from far
away saying Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme.
CHORUS OF ONE
In the capital of Alone and Ecstatic
she rests her pierced, white as dust
wings against the privacy fence.
Her anthropomorphic body
is gleaming. Over her mule head
she continues to wear the mask of the human,
incanting through the last
bluebell field to survive forever’s
never-frost. Every time
a china plate shatters
a weed becomes a flower:
true or false? In winter
in the kitchen on earth, you are
on your knees, collecting the shards.
Sky-greyblue linoleum floor.
Instruction booklet on the counter
beside the meringues reads She
dust and she doesn’t
she does and she