the poetry that matters

Russell Jaffe

Russell Jaffe teaches English at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College in Chicago. His poems have appeared in The Ottawa Arts Review, La Petite Zine, elimae, Shampoo, Horse Less Review, 3:AM and many others, and his chapbook G(*)D is forthcoming from Pudding House Press. He is the founder and editor of O Sweet Flowery Roses, an online journal of poetry, and Good Hurts, a hot sauce review blog.


Instead of videos of my family as a template I’ll use an old movie and how my dad shook his head FFing the commercials. Opulence is the arrival of a new box without selfish contexts like time and newness. Rejecting newness anyway is like the shrug that comes with a gadget like how your friends like your uncles tell you like your dad how there’s a better version cheaper closer to now. Tape over times of elegance you’ll never know. Dad set it up the cords are gambles the free standing decay of the reality tracking which he remembered linear but were magnetic loops. The whole world’s like that on better days where static’s a hissing surprise—the only variable in this cold universe. Are our VCRs our post-coital lack? See me in the brief allowances of plastic slot light. What goes in ultimately like our fathers and the fathers of our friends is mechanized dogmatism. The new idols will become the thrift store’s secondhand holy ruins. This antiquity is the dulled edges of your god.




your memories, a picnic with ants of before and where, pesky/faces warm with cake/similar grasses/ the corn that threatens the ground you’re carried to the car from/the cousin who read her story from school/and the face of the girl who talked/ you shhhed her and/she looked at you and mouthed FUCK YOU/the many hearts of an earthworm in your hand/now you decide/you explode them, her mouth/the dulled crackle of remembering a relative who wanted to talk to you that felt awkward and now that relative is dead/similar grasses/the stain tape leaves on a reality/magnetic stripping, a synthetic feeling replacement for the sun-starved tendrils of community/shhhing/needs like unfortunate flowers of poisonous plants/stories about parallel universes corresponding ominously with the discrepancies between thrift store clothes and the withered maps of the selves you knew in incomprehensible dried golden haircuts/worms, worms, worms, there are worms that no one mentions/outfits claimed in that discount nexus of activity/recklessness, a sudden decay/the hearts are stars pinned to this fixation of vehicle tracks your fingers make over your eyes/tremors of vulnerability in dads you’d argue with eventually/sudden static interlocking the progression of time/the best of us are affordable fertilizer/since real time pounds, well, it makes at least a high pitched drone frequency/being human’s non-stop stopping

is it starting? <TRACKING>
            Anyway, here are walls of protestors, back up. H<TRACKING>ere are houses,
            some on fire. Anyway, back up, and here are trees and bushes in dirt squares
            between the buildings and the sidewalks. Here are people returning to their
            homes. Back up. You see a traffic cone in the rain being stepped on by combat
            boots, but back up and you see the grainy salvo of my baby teeth pounding
            cake. It’s my birthday, but back up and you see the people running slowly
            towards the buildings and the smashed out storefronts of pastry shops.  You can
see torn wedding dresses, but back up and the pastiche is of my favorite
            color, red, the one that warns you the most, the image of a trembling
            woman’s lips, the abandoning of a continuum, the fear of a line. I can’t see anymore and my father takes me in from my birthday party. The walls muffle noise ike a fugue of shuffling. The neighborhood’s bashed in cars are dull caskets. I can’t! back up and you’ll see a woman’s face hidden under cloth. Her skin betrays her upplanted laurels, convenient to streets: they are human colors. Pause here!: let  own your guarded veils, for we’re the toothy glimmers they should be afraid of! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111
                                                1 Exposition 1:
                                                1 Fugue and
                                                1 simplify, a rebirth in flaming bottles. Broken crumbles
                                                11 of wall. The remains of a neighborhood a codex of de
                                                111 stroyed wood. I can’t. This is the training you’ve rec
                                                1111 eived like a wall. But humans are resilient as sand
                                                11111 scorpions. That’s why I drain myself through VC
                                                111111 Rs: so you can hear my stolen diaries and lemen
                                                1111111 t. I can’t. Loops—you can jump through them f
                                                11111111 or fun or to prove things. There are audience
                                                111111111 s like burial fugues. These are the most hum
                                                1111111111 an shapes. Example: repetition in your bod
                                                11111111111 y. Cells. Streets blocked off. See? I can’t. I
                                                111111111111 close in like a day, light like pyramids. V
                                                1111111111111 isualize. I can’t. Start new or stop. I can






What will become of me, the author:

-Alone, stop like a VHS does in insecure static fuzz; Await the brief and blue definite that comes at the tail end of the tape; Compose a report on how this is like the frays of the universe we can speculate on; Do dishes at sundown

-Alone, study and classify an American history of white-out as I slouch drunk against the sidewalk and any number of public buildings.

-Cultivation and mastery of the Creepy Crawler kit, including comfort with the glow-in-the-dark creature Plasticgoop and rare Super Cartoon Maker (1969, Mattel), dedication of myself to

-Bedtime, consideration of

-Books, selling of I find at home in my parents’ basement and using the money to buy sandwiches at chain restaurants

-Clone, recognition of and contextual epistemologies implied re: looking like every other guy at a poetry reading

-Food, purchase of

-Goods, purchase of

-Organs, replacement of with a newer, fresher, higher functioning one, casting the pieces aside in a drainage ditch where the old pharmacy, a staple of the suburb I grew up, once stood. Unbeknownst to me, those pieces wash away over a long series of cold spring drizzles are reform the old me. Unfortunately for lack of skin, the old me covers itself in snack chip wrappers, torn slim boxes for pro wrestling VHS tapes, and greeting cards sent by my girlfriend’s mom. I didn’t really need a new brain but got one since it was cheap; It’s the final piece the old me needs. It confronts me and we go to war. We one up each other and blog endlessly, summarizing tactile damages in our end-of-day Facebook updates. When the responses trickle to a halt, we realize how alike we are and become friends. We raise each other’s hands in crowded stores, streetcorners of college pedmalls, and just-starting house parties, asking—nay, demanding—who will join this generation?

-Team up with i can has cheeseburger? for the ultimate networking experience

                                                                                                                         Feb 28, 2011

Bookmark and Share