Jake Syersak

from These Ghosts / This Compost: An Aubadeclogue




it’s true, I’ve tried living as far outside my body as my body would permit the abstract of, but 
             last night 


the cursive of a millipede wrote its way across my chest, & all of a sudden,


in that moment, I was all bone.


it’s the inching, the itching anxiety of unbroken bones believe me into being. into solidity. 
             into sanity.


believe me, I could build a raft of it.


but sitting & listening to the waves slap the Lake Karachay lakeshore, the flavor of a hoof 


carves my mouth a new animal noise. & here’s where


“no man is an island” shores up: in the “Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch,” in the “Great Pacific 
             Trash Vortex,” in the “Plastic Island the Size of Texas.” 


be it legion, be it lesion, or be it lesson, it goes by many names. 


it goes by so many familiar names


that it goes by.


how the weight of a piano doesn’t translate into feathers & feathers won’t be lifted by a 
             finger, unless—




in the dream, the lily-of-the-valley reared in the cavity of a lumber mill’s window sill knows 


of the valley, & yet unfurls as if in the know,


by which I mean,


I wonder: could saxifrage thrust also through an Excel sheet? 


++       +    ++      +    ++      +    ++




I think the is


in (most of





& in yet another dream I tell you, “la terre est bleu comme une orange” (the world is blue as 
             an orange),


do you see, now, how what surrounds


wills; or, wills what’s surrounded?




you give me the look of an engine refusing to turn over & I feel gutted by some invisible 
             wrench. but words


don’t lie. there’s never an error. or, at least, never an error’s there.


only an orange tree’s worst fear: that “the world is blue as…” may dangle too real from 
              “…an orange.”


& my worst fear, Skull-Etcher, my worst fear is dangling too real from a too unreal world


—& that’s the reason why, outside of the dream, 


I feel a little de-boned now


 —why I’m all stripes, all types, all tripes of cautionary tape now.




it’s the manifestation of the world gone mantic compost makes my mind the mind of koi in 
             koi ponds boiling over now, cycling their corporate plazas now;


the most fiery of my every last swan 


has malted into a rabid lake now; the rolling of waves like the flowing cascade of a wedding 
              dress wrought from lions, now:


this is the magic tide against now, for now: a parasitic, orangesque & cerebral dust 


pollinating now, snowing 


its sterile spring to lick my lungs out from under me like an under-tongue of now.


—why I’m feeling bound, obliged, impelled to trace a bad taste


left in my mouth 


only in so far as it provides traction. but this is not about taste.


this is about detraction, the attraction of.

++       +    ++      +    ++      +    ++



I think the is




“lovely is the 
rose” (most of 





so paint a cloud in the top-left corner of this canvas & I’ll promise to paint an isthmus in the 


& we’ll spend the rest of our lives


pretending this isn’t the isthmus my lips is. 


that is, if I am destined to be the rococo of a grand hallway made of caved-in skulls then I 
             will be the very line,


the very delineation: of legion from lesion: of lesson from lesion: if lessening, of course I’d 
             want to crave in any cave-in I could.


to commune not with eucalyptus but with, say, the north seacoast of Germany, where a 
             beached sperm whale’s gut splits open 


& out spills 


the guess-what-hello 


of carburetors, pistons, gaskets, & spark-plugs: water music, 


spurred by a traffic island.


—exploded views of 


how are we not to consider this as fucked? 


& how could I not say it again?—how are we not to consider this as fucked?


& how not to dismantle?—go ahead, dismantle.


dismantle the horsepower of that synaptic orchid, the tension you ornament & augment that 
             muscle with.

dismantle it backwards, slow, 


from orange to origin.


did its design unspool the flourish done so with? yours or its?


what do I want to say what I want to say is: 


up until now we have only a) impressed or b) undressed the world. the point is to address it, 
             as is. as we. as as.


—not ghost, but not not as ghost; 


—not compost. but not not as compost.


in pastels of petal, a the petals flows, globed. in flows of flowers, a the flowers globes, flowed. in 
               crushes of cosmos, 


a the cosmos overflows. 


like how a constellation nets into out of: as: over us: is us. as us: 


what algebra of aloe 


you & I are.


what sobering moment of stars: of wow: of scars: exact as a rhyme: exact as tree with me.


this kiss: sensation: twisted into definition.

++       +    ++      +    ++      +    ++




I think the is




“lovely is the 


is (most of





& now the distance I can taste is a medium—& we—


—we are the visible cartographers inside invisible instruments, outlined 


& made real by the music 


we’ve tuned to. into.




in yet another, other dream, I watch icicles hang from the ocotillo tips; I’ve faked sick so I 
             can stay home all day under my blanket.


& from there, watch the proximal snowfall


in a desert too unrealistically cold to be realistically any desert


flood & fold a cricket’s skull 


into global nausea: 


the feigned-vein of distance, of nothingness, of “too much with us.”


no violence: no locale: no valentine. 


just wind.


like its familiarity might fill a white hotel robe, as if a belt of doves unraveled. say sky & skull, 


breathed in, are one.


arthritic click of this: the global pastoral: my face, my stare: my callus, my Arcadia.


—Skull-Etcher, it’s only just now—somewhere 


in your kiss drying on mine


that I’ve begun to understand the distance between two points.

++       +    ++      +    ++      +    ++




I think the is




“lovely is the 


is finally pushing 
back (most of





Skull-Etcher, if all this all around us echoes, it may as well echo us all. echo us all as. 


goodbye etcher. goodbye. skull. goodbye cricket. goodbye skull. goodbye.


 Jake Syersak received his MFA from the University of Arizona and is currently a PhD student in English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. He is the author of YIELD ARCHITECTURE (Burnside Review Press, 2018) and several chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Verse Daily, Omniverse, and elsewhere. He edits Cloud Rodeo, co-edits Radioactive Cloud, serves as a contributing editor for Letter Machine Editions, and co-curates the Yumfactory Reading Series in Athens, GA.



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