Jake Bauer

Jake Bauer serves as Poetry Editor for The Journal. His poetry has been recently published or is forthcoming in Forklift, OhioThreepenny ReviewThrushDIAGRAMThe Bennington ReviewPoetry Northwest; and inter|rupture; among others.

 

CHILD PRODIGY

 

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

doesn’t she

 

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