From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Negative Detection

Some days I wake too early
Eyes like hardboiled eggs
All of me borrowed
Blood beating in my ears
Limbs arranged in a
Semaphore of loneliness.

I am hieroglyphs. I say: Sun God!
Shelter me from time and
Fear. Enfold me in your burning
Wings. Save my family, save
My wounded heart. Save my
New love, old loves, far-flung—!

Prayers die on my cracked lips
Water everywhere, salt-poison.
My peace lily grows ragged. They
Told me it didn’t need much care
You know, They. They who say
Everything. If I ever meet They,

I’ll ask, Why do you tell lies and
Truths? Can’t you decide between
Them? Wisdom and folly shouldn’t
Mingle, except when they do. Except
Always and all ways. What was I
Saying again? Ah. My therapist

Is trying to help me with sleep hygiene
But it’s not going well. Covered in invisible
Bark, I travel my islands, earthbound. Heavy.
Weighted by tears and bread. O.

I look for you. I scalloped you oysters
On your birthday. I wonder sometimes
Whether you stay silent because you
Disapprove of the man I’ve become.
Soon, my fingers will find the seam of your
Absence, and through negative detection, I will
Find the space where you are not. O death. O death!

Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.

Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings’s poetry has appeared in The Hunger Journal, Native Skin Online, and EVENT Magazine. Born in Germany, he trotted the globe until settling in New Orleans. Before the Pandemic, he MCed a literary readings series called Dogfish. Alas. His debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves (Orbit/Redhook) arrives this June, and it is available for pre-order wherever books are sold.