Four Poems by Jessie Janeshek

Bad Survivalist: Jessie Janeshek

A Winter Weather Event

I’m home to being the worst girl on earth
binge-eating almonds   but Carole Lombard is still an absurdist
so I start the purple volume again.
I wait for the Las Vegas plane crash/blue talk
and it’s important to exercise
even if you’ve got nothing to say
long walks in the snow/everyone knows this is nowhere
your pink hair won’t make sense in the spring
and I had a dream this bridge split/high voltage.

It’s a 90% chance this is your birthday
so I pick up the phone
and it might be your last but I always say that
as the turntable album cracks like a fire.
Back then everyone had antlers.
Songs stayed certain lengths.
Back then I was jealous.
Now I’m just drugged.

Forget about the time I tried to be your doll.
Forget about the time I bought lacy underwear
at the shutting-down Kmart while Neil Young played.
Back then I moved from flapper to sweetheart
stuck a pin in that pigskin under my kilt
down by the river I shot my baby
but the river is frozen and my ovary aches

but maybe your ghost will still come and see me
lick the salt right off my hand.

Hello January 

It’s been a bad break so I broke
can’t talk in that whispery girl voice
you all want     can’t join the black velvet
flower club.     My pink pen is leaking
but what does it matter
I’ll scrub the ink.

Everything in my space house responds to my voice
soon all the musicians will die
all the musicians will dry to bone white
in miniskirts off the Scottish coast
and all of our songs will be sung by computer.

I walk so little I dream I’m walking
what’s that big light in the sky?
I dream I can’t use the digital gift card
I’m the girl detective in New Orleans
dressed in a trench coat moving through high-def
like a soap opera.

I attach the removable collar
I guess I’ve always been guilty with prose
I look at the sweetheart songstress in the mirror
feel like I’m going to throw up
won’t have a baby to show for it.

Steady bones, steady noon, it’s too hot out
I dump whiskey in the grass
where there should be snow.

Soft Quality Control in the Winter 

Skin care’s a bore, not kinetic
and I’m pretty sure of getting dragged back into comedy
still I climb the fence   Cruella de Vil-style
shadows on the snow
to the shadowy mansion   to see what he left me.

Who are these women? Not breathless
sitting around the table    dictating abortifacients
not witches      a pink treatment
of nightclub cages and candle crowns
the leopard man’s bag of flour.

The town church is old and has bells
but the picture show’s better
drunk women, one stray tabby familiar
but the dog’s also priceless      comes at high cost
posing sadly with me in a pink glossy wig
sidesaddle outside the giallo.

I’m a blonde sad skeleton writing to music.
I’m afraid of the life-sized doll
dancing out of the tin box
since last time I saw it was colorized.
I keep taking my temperature, sealing the cracks
I keep jumping out of bed in nothing but black underwear
in that time clasp between Xmas and New Year
where the holly is bitter
where the lunar and solar collide.

Midnight Memento/Fever Alarm 

I thought this was the winter of pink
but somehow it’s raining.
I stay inside past the dark
back starts to crack
I put the aluminum tree on the turntable
ask why punish me?

I don’t wear veils
I don’t smell like lilac
I know when to clock. I know when to crank.
I know when to throw out ambition.
I won’t eat you out in the dollhouse.

You say everything’s changed and I bet this is the past
where obsession pans.
Can you tell me how to be America’s sweetheart?
I’ve already got the icicle ticket.
I’ve walked enough that I won’t feel ashamed.
The glittery deer will make me celestial.
I’ll wax conversational like I’m just buried
or fall up the steps in green seaweed
and become cerebral.

I’m nothing but fortune in the dark of Québec
I’m telling you badly the length of an LP
kept me in check
then your voice came out of the speaker
and I snapped and tongue-kissed vintage Santas
in old town in velvet and rabbit.
Now I’m back in the parlor
in lace with the synthesizer
waiting for fallout.

Jessie Janeshek’s third full-length book of poems MADCAP is forthcoming from Stalking Horse Press in 2019. Her first two books are The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press, 2017) and Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). Her chapbooks include Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia (dancing girl press, 2016), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, 2018), Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming), and Channel U (Grey Book Press, forthcoming). Read more at

Image: SDRandCo,

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