Jessica Harman

Jessica Harman is a writer living in Maryland. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in "Nimrod," "Spillway," "Bellevue Literary Review," "Arion," and "Stand," among others. She has three chapbooks of poetry, including an online chapbook, "Secrets," and "Take Me As I Am," published by Propaganda Press/Alternating Current. "Data," her first full-length collection of poetry, will be published by Cervena Barva Press is 2012.


I like this word because it begins every dictionary
With two AA powered batteries, as if the Energizer Bunny
Were going to walk along the long road of the language,
And still be banging his little drum at Zygote. For we must
All make this journey, though we make it in parts,
In dreams, in the alphabetical order of an obsessive
Compulsive’s shopping list. Dazzle is in the dictionary,
Too, and so is cake, but not dazzle cake all together.
For that, we need imagination. We need the Aardvark
Xylophone, the whatachamadoodle clock. The imaginary
Clockwork of a poem—that Aardvark heart,
The thing that makes the word tick. Shakespeare
Knew his Aardvarks, how to noun and verb them, how to splurge
As if they were cash and he had won the lottery.
For only in iambic pentameter can one Xerox
A nocturne, or find one’s way home in the duality
Of beginnings and endings, and the loop they make
When the book slams shut, like the gentle clocking
Of the wind, like the tasteful latch locking once
Again on the lid of an antique teakwood jewelry box.
The muses keep the keys to said jewelry boxes on necklaces
Around their swan dive necks, as if diamond studded
Tiffany jewel key were forever, and they’re not playing games.
Take the Aardvark seriously. For as he hobbles across the path,
His back can be dried like a hollow shell in the sun,
And made into a lute when strung.

A Poem Simply Is Two Oranges On A Kitchen Countertop In Morning Light, Sometimes

It might be the silvery glow
Of morning dappling the golden
Orange skin of oranges.

The way I could just pick one
Up and peel it when I want to,
The freedom of that, the existential
This or that, now or never or when
And how everything

Is like that,
The vast choices the world gives us—

In everything, even a simple thing,
Like peeling an orange. So imagine
What life can do with other things—

The waves and the journey across them.
We go across and come back in our minds
And at every moment,

Here or there, in all of this spinning
Gold light. Music. That’s what a poem
Is—the music echoing

And reverberating, looping
Like time back in on itself,
Fugue, cannon, duet—

All counterpoint, turning
The autumn leaves slowly—
All suspense as the morning

Holds time still in a pause of gold.
The waves were still the morning
After the day I found out of your passing

Away—the crests and troughs
Froze for a moment, as if to make a point—
To say there is a flow of time—

That one can make a point
Of its rhythms in a poem
As well as life—that they are not
As clockwork and immutable

As we usually conceive them—
That they, those rhythms in nature,
Too, are susceptible
To imagination,

The timing of the heart beating. Thank-you
For teaching me through your last
Poems what poetry
Really is—

I will always have those words
Of yours, and the view of the still water.
And you have taught me that it is enough.

It is enough just to be forgiven,
To be loved, for the girl I am,
For this way I stand on the edge

Of the water, looking out.


Copyright © 2010 Jessica Harman