Whose Box Are We Supposed To Think Outside Of?

He’s another man with his pins, taking pains,
working out the least visible, most showy
way to tack us up, labeled. In theory,
it’s our colors, our wingspan, our caught
flutter. Not his pinchers, his possession. Today
I listened to a politician. Everything: about
her. Almost no one ages well wearing
power except in photo ops, filtered, which
we’ve reduced life to. Hello, just me here
slurping my homemade spaghetti Bolognese,
techie do-gooding, flashing my abs, my 2.5
nephews with my cat or dog, depending on who’s
in the room. The intentional underbelly: she
speechified, but didn’t answer questions. Thinking
we wouldn’t notice? [Eye roll.] I’ve admired
but never loved a slogan. Those flip sides:
admire/despise, love/indifference. An edge
is a coin’s third side. I’ve been told I’m only
edge, but not by the man with the pins.
Choices: what they try to convince us of.



Click here to read Heather Jessen on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by Derrick Treadwell on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Heather Jessen: Often I cannot explain precisely where my poems come from. As I’m going about the day, I tend to jot down images, ideas, overheard comments, etc. In response to whatever I’m reading, I also usually have multiple craft ideas that I want to try eventually (e.g. write a sestina or a poem where all the lines are end-stopped). Because I saved the first draft of this poem at 3:54 a.m., I know I woke up dreaming poetry lines and then kept playing with what my sleeping mind had handed me. One craft element that I’d wanted to experiment with, that shows up in this poem, is continual associative leaping that’s somehow tied together in the end.

Heather Jessen
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