Five Poems by Laura Jean Moore


“Tree Fingers” by Rachel Kertz


I don’t need sympathy or an end because it is my skin to inhabit from suckle to croaking but I looked up the history of these genes the other day and I learned we got here early when killing Indians was just a Tuesday and that we spread out down the coast and some stayed South and bought people who were called slaves and some spread West and took land in Oklahoma and you could trace the whole white History of America from before the Mayflower to when the first shot was fired to the founding of the coastal cities and the secession of the Confederacy and the slamming back together of the Union and the stealing of the West and all the laws called Jim Crow and the Depression and both World Wars and Korea and Vietnam and football and baseball and basketball and farms and cities and Jesus from the pulpit and the gentrification of Brooklyn and it’s all here.

Every last horror.

At night I stare at my hands and my skin is so thin I can see the tendons stretch tight across my knuckles and the blood run like blue secrets under a shroud.

I have no illusions of fairness in this life or the past—I am walking proof of this nation’s sin.

I dare you to tell me that’s okay.

I am a wolf anyway, you already knew that, so why do I have to explain
myself or why I am here, drunk again on what didn’t happen today and
completely lost in the swarm of people who are not close but watching
us, as we howl at the moon and become like newborns, selfish and
hungry for anything but what we’ve already eaten
anything, anything at all
it’s the Fourth of July and i’m thinking about my Jesus-loving cousin
who had an abortion
but she didn’t call it that
she just blogged about how the gyno told her the fetus
wasn’t viable and that she had two options:
carry it to term or take it out and get a fresh start
so of course she got that taken care of
now she has two pretty children and I know her mother thinks I’m a
whore because I’m a divorced fornicator who never has been pregnant
ain’t that just the way it is in America?
In the painting, the monkeys draw the humans.
Their hands border the scene.
The humans, they walk—
through doorways
on stairs
as they are being drawn.
I run from the room that holds the painting, but
then I am there, being drawn,
watching the monkeys draw me,
running through a doorway,
pacing the stairs.
i remember it first as a fascination, a wondering, the kind of piqued
interest that grows what i am aware of and leaves me with unanswered
questions about people, places, things that i do not know
i wanted to know her, the way i imagine some people want to know
musicians whose songs have carried them through some horror, but she
was neither a celebrity nor famous, even though later i found out she
was once a musician and is now a poet
it started on facebook, because it is 2014 and things can start on
facebook, you know, a simulacra of what can start in real life or IRL as
they say on the WWW
she was posting snippets of her morning, afternoon, evening, night and
the music that she loved and the news she was outraged by and we had
a few mutual friends and so though we were strangers we became
strangers who are aware of each other in proximity, geography, and
finally i emailed her and said i want to meet you and she said, sure
thing, why don’t you come to one of my readings (because she was
a poet and poets have readings sometimes) and i said yes and so i went
the bar was dark, with red light, and the theme was soviet and the
secret police and everyone else there knew her in a way i did not but i
listened and i watched the way her shoulders moved as she inflected
each syllable and it was just a coincidence but she was soviet once too,
in moldova, before her family came to this country and she learned the
words of salt n peppa and the language of english men and dead
women and the surety of abramovic
afterward i bought her chapbook, the last copy, and i said that i had a
friend crush on her, which was true, because i didn’t know how else to
say i have fallen in love with you, your face in this dark, red light and
your words with their echoes of old rituals and new sex 
she said, you are wonderful, let’s get a drink sometime, and so we did
before two weeks had passed and we laughed and told stories about
our failures and she invited me to read the lover by marguerite duras
and we discussed our adolescence in the company of other women
our bodies were the story, as much as our experience of men, or of
women, or of both, and we ate cheese with our fingers curved in
delicate flirtation and we sipped wine like we had seen women in black
and white movies bat their eyelashes at their lovers and we talked
about impossible futures and what we hope to never be
that was the beginning, the time that has passed into dream memory
and warm feeling because it has been months now, over a year, and we
are still in love without consummation and in desire without pain
i don’t know if it will last, the way i don’t know if any of the best delights
could ever really be immortal, but i will ride this will live it will submit to
it because when you are given a muse you can’t help but listen


Laura Jean Moore

Laura Jean Moore is the 2014 winner of the Cobalt Review’s Zora Neale Hurston Fiction Prize. Her poetry, essays, and stories have been featured in [PANK], the Brooklyn Rail, and Corium Magazine. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Reed College. She is suspicious of most things.

One comment

  1. Hello, Laura Jean. Marshall from the library. Wonderful stuff. I especially like “Muse.” Technique and subject matter is used to great effect.

    Liked by 1 person

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