Poetry: Ars Poetica as Love Poem with Auto-Correct; or, Mission You by Perry Janes

Perry Janes reaches right into our technology-soaked bodies and unearths the flesh that aches for air, the “Fat tumor blooming below the shoulder/ that I kiss to keep well-loved / and benign.” A scroll, a techno-consummation manifesto lit by hundreds of individual lights just for your eyes—enjoy.


Ars Poetica as Love Poem with Auto-Correct;
or, Mission You

We’re far enough into the future
+++++++what I call night
light might also mean the dozen or so

+++++++screens that brighten my living
room furniture. Far enough, what I mean by
+++++++death might also be the slow

replacement of my hands, the way they tremor
+++++++when I laugh, by photos that live
on a server somewhere in Arizona, each

+++++++hard drive filled with theaters I rotate
in the dark, smiling. I admit
+++++++there are days I require language

to make my body in the world feel real,
+++++++days I walk headlong into my words
and find nothing I recognize there.

+++++++Not the goose-like form of shoes
stormed against the door. Not the shape of bed
+++++++quilts left by morning’s hurried departure.

Shit, we’re far enough into the future
+++++++there should be a word by now to say
I have unsubscribed from this e-mail chain

+++++++on ten separate occasions and now
I am prepared to break my phone. A second
+++++++word for the thousand-and-one times

I have tried to unsubscribe from that feeling
+++++++I sometimes get between my toes
after a long run, numbness I’m silently terrified

+++++++means nerve damage. Or maybe
we’re far enough now from our bodies,
+++++++our landscapes, we’ve lost lexicon

to faithfully describe the ocotillo: how
+++++++it sprouts from the desert like hair
from the dead. How the desert stretches

+++++++out and out until, finally,
the distance between myself
+++++++and the world no longer seems

so strange. The idea of leaving it, now,
+++++++no stranger than the word abacus
meaning a beaded string scholars once used

+++++++to take a tally of their days. Far,
whatever, but maybe not so far
+++++++language can’t still keep me—

the surprise of my phone’s corrective mind,
+++++++how missing you becomes mission you
and there it is: accuracy. The body

+++++++I’ve waited for. Body (yours)
I need. One small toe reaching
+++++++farther than its neighbors.

Fat tumor blooming below the shoulder
+++++++that I kiss to keep well-loved
and benign. You, magpie comedian

+++++++laughing in your mother’s voice.
You, house plant empath gently
+++++++misting their leaves. You.

Objective and journey. Obstacle.
+++++++Reward. Our future blinks by,
surprising and mundane, and look

+++++++how far we’ve come, you and I,
needing only the word
+++++++our feet make as they walk

++++++++++++++side by side.

Perry Janes

Perry Janes is a poet and filmmaker from Metro Detroit, Michigan. A Pushcart Prize and Hopwood Award recipient, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, West Branch, Tupelo Quarterly, POETRY, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and others. He earned his MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a screenwriter.

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