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 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.