Three Verses from the Vortex(t): Poetry from the Future by Jake Syersak

Poetry: Jake Syersak

Identity Vortex

[ “Can Rivers Be People Too? :
Inside the Radical Movement to Gain Rights
for Ecosystems—and Save the Environment.”
(THE NEW REPUBLIC: May. 9. 2018) ]

that this garden should fall may it fall less the weight of a sigh

& more the weight

of scythes the rivers



the lips of the corporate body &

in a moment of solidarity find

common ground

from which to protest “I ought to be


thy Adam” the vortex chants itself a skin

from the enchantment of insults & skulls & bones the vortex(t)


writes “as a nerve o’er which

do creep / the else unfelt oppression

of this earth” I feel sprained as the neck of a Lamarckian giraffe

losing the human words the words

lose for human


it’s like trying to lay out in a sentence the idea of tree

sentience it’s like trying to get my sealegs next to the backwards

hug of this ochre barn’s

failing cornucopia its plywood folding

like a deck of tarot cards


it’s like I am to the insect what isn’t is

to an instant


that insecticide called time in some Goya-

van Goghian field “often I am

permitted to return to

the meadow” in which the talons of auracanas grip the sour-

apple-earth at dawn like kissing


lips clutch one another’s colors

to spell or else

expel as though


through an x-ray the very blues

becoming is


I covet

Nest Vortex

[ “These Birds Decorate Their Nests
With Trash—Here’s Why”


orioles & black kites trill the air into a plastic

twill the rolling r’s of clouds

tear the sky’s papier-

mache into “Darkling I listen” “Darkling

I listen” “Darkling I



& Darkling how I listen my ear & lungs


the neon helix of a crab’s


face beachside in Jersey welcome to the vortex

says the vertigo

of a White Castle’s trashcan

soda cups & mini-burger-boxes bob &

clam up the bronchial tube-

like turrets of the surrounding trees for thine

is the kingdom I write


the vortex(t) I can’t unsee

these castles

in the air temper


the air into “all that is solid

melts into air” beautiful as the ontological

curve my toilet’s drain argues

away any notion “the mermaids have come to

the desert”


street-water rainbow like a landfill scraped open behind a golf course

this vein across my forehead

circumnavigates the object lesson “like as though

the plague

became a guest” there is no exit

but through this nest


because the laughter in a landscape

isn’t just

visible it’s listenably

The Great Pacific Trash Vortex

[“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Full of Ocean
Plastic, Keeps Growing: It’s an 80,000-ton Beast of
Debris Between Hawaii and California That’s Still
Getting Bigger.” (NBC NEWS: Mar. 25. 2018)]

just as “frothing wounds of roses” may draw

thee ever nearer

love’s estranged entanglement

so too I veer ever nearer the vortex

via vortex(t) every minute the Pacific Trash Vortex

twice the size

of Texas


bears repeating

because everything is bigger in “the awful shadow


of some unseen power” why even write

this I am

only a slug’s dream


ambling up the strawberry vines

in comparison the somnambulist half-eaten

by the honey of sleep the author

dies & everything’s a text


& I & you & “meditation & water are wedded forever”


a wine

stem forgives its delusions of grandeur a dandelion’s

crown forgets its language


up to the moment it’s translated into

dent-de-lion & bites its tongue


in a dew-heavy moment the eyelids transform an eye

into isles “say it, no ideas but in

things” how wind & water persuade a ship’s

conception of sail as here-where gone hardware

the earth so often

softens what’s dreamt into sound being a pitbull’s

chewing its summertime blues away through a Windex

bottle’s unheard of wave

outlives us


& like micro-



extenuates our circumstances

Jake Syersak received his MFA from the University of Arizona and earned his PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. He is the author of YIELD ARCHITECTURE (Burnside Review Press, 2018) and several chapbooks. He edits Cloud Rodeo, co-edits Radioactive Cloud, serves as a contributing editor for Letter Machine Editions, and co-curates the Yumfactory Reading Series in Athens, Georgia.


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