Two Poems from The Future: Jessica Morey-Collins

Poetry: Jessica Morey-Collins

The Day We Learned

Most of us immediately pulled off our shoes and popped our shirt-buttons,
released the thunder of our hearts to quarrel with the administration.

The teenagers who found it had been up to teenage no-good—pushing each other in a stolen shopping cart, gulping begged beer and whooping through the sidewalked night. They moved from the orderly center of town to the old sprawl, brittle shells of nail salons, flaked stucco, ubiquitous glitter of crushed autoglass. They flung images and videos into their open social network. This is how we learned:

Image // girl, brunette, whirls hair—trapped in streetlight amber
Image // two boys and a girl wheel arms through a weed-choked parking lot
Video // laughter as they rattle toward the discarded plaster that was once a Mervyn’s
Image // duck lips reflected in shattered glass
Video // two boys wrench at dead pneumatics, one whispers “oh shit” as the door jerks

Image // crumbled walls collapsed ceiling—moonlight glints on empty racks

We always suspected that structural acumen was the primary determinant of
success. This is how we learned:

Image // two girls press blue-lit cleavage toward cracked mannequins
Image // boy curls lips around a beer can escalator to nowhere looms behind him
Video // steady frame on a termite-chewed fitting room one girl hushes the others—
laughter slows to a trickle clicks and murmurs surge

Video // shaky frame
Video // the fitting room ripples
Video // flare of a cell phone flashlight flickers blue off thousands of wings
Video // zooms on gnawing jaws abdomens marked with letters PFE – GE – PYDS –
AMZN zooms in on jaws gnawing

Video // DJI – NOK – GOOG – SNP – FB – gnawing jaws mumbled “oh my god”

Video // “oh my god oh my god oh mygod ohmygod ohMYgod ohMY GOD” crescendo
of volume wing thrum wing beat wing thunder

Video // crescendo light flies off abdomens JNJ – PLSE – CWEI – F – BAC wings catch
chop copter flurry swarm

Little predicts what public attention latches onto—sliver windows into a system, well-lit glimpses, SATOR squares, Kilroy, cats, standing still to the same song, fire behind the girl and the girl smiles—the first viral meme was an eclipse, a moon grin gone bloody. Aching at our empty pockets, our attention gripped those videos.


Given: the crisp earth lurches
from its courage. The prism unhinges
its facets, and each of the laugh’s halves
slaps you with its staccato. I am here with you,
Planet. My surfaces are, too, impervious.
Laughs splash against my manufactured façade
and cannot work into the dirt of me. Given:
risk elimination splits land in its own
spots. The State is made of flame
hungry stuff; the State is made of taking;
the State rests in a floodplain and
lovers love nakedly while the world’s lungs
fill with smoke and water. I’ve lost my clothes
and my old protocols. My pores clamor
for your vanishing points, for packaged
lathers that might collapse me back
to babyhood. Have you accepted
our ravishing? This anthropocene is a gas!
I laughed about the last black rhinoceros,
then tattled on my last rapist. What good
is a good name if you do no good with it.
We dammed and extracted you—those lapping
waters, that flammable stuff—you asked
for it! Capitalism is like the bad friend
who says you’re lucky to get touched at all
with a mug like that—but Planet I will love you
better. I have seen your red teeth, your phenotypes
collected in jars. My body, too, could use
a treatment plant, a catalogue. My body its own habitat,
withered. Given: a list of risky attributes,
concretized, topples. A laugh has facets, its back
to the wall; its glitz is where manufacture stalls.

Jessica Morey-Collins is a poet, planner, editor, and educator. She is interested in community and organizational resilience, hazard mitigation, mental health, and sexuality. Her writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net


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