Jaclyn Hogan

Bricks

“Savannah Grey,” says

the tour guide. We stand in the courtyard 


of the Sorrel-Weed House, 

aching lights streaming in,

on a stewed-humid night.


The house has no back wall.


I am not psychic.


All of my ghost stories

are lies.


Shadows spill 


into tiny fingerprint pools

dappling the paving stones. 


I tip my finger into the dimple

left by the slave who made these bricks.


I want to see him,

the man who shaped these bricks,

hands gloved in clay

that choked his life line,

and stuck stubborn

under his nails.


While I am an idle white girl,

who chews on words.


He owes me nothing.


Today, if you can find them,

Savannah Greys sell for four dollars a piece.

Thought Experiments Concerning Galvanism
inspired by “Hotel by a Railroad,” by Edward Hopper

Not Prometheus, modern or classical,

despite the torch

he clamps in an automatic hand.

He has no softness, no forgiving edges.

flaking like rust under fingernails,


no shine,

no velvet lushness, no silk and rain.


I wriggle for a cleansing metaphor, and fall 

through exhausted shadows into  

Lake Geneva.


Even in eighteen hundred and starved to death,

men had blood in their veins.

But his mouth hums sharp of oil and nickel.


Fabricated 

of stainless steel and vacuum tubes,


I do not keep his 

calcified heart

bound with a scarf in my desk drawer. 


Because I built him,

I could love him

if we were leashed

by words or discarded nuts and bolts,

or a static charge ringing wires.


But he remains inert,

and I am a discarded punch-card,

circuitless.

Unnamed

Lot’s wife does not have a name.

She turned to salt

for looking back.


I guess the same thing would have happened to me.

I always look, too.

And anyway, didn’t the Sodomites, and whatever you call the residents of Gomorrah

deserve to be seen? 

Didn’t they deserve to have their destruction witnessed?


Apparently, witnessing the destruction of your home and neighbors

(the garden with your fig tree, the room you slept in, the lane you walked to market)

is a crime worthy of being turned into a condiment.

***

Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die.”

Which sounds bad until you remember

that she lost her servants, home, and children too.


Which makes me believe she was the reasonable one in the relationship.

But we don’t know her name.


I never really got the point of the story of Job.

Women know it’s understandable, forgivable to stay with someone who hurts you,

but there’s nothing particularly holy about it.

***

St. Augustine, when he was just Augustine,

had a concubine.

Which sounds fancy, but she was really just a woman he lived with 

without marrying.


They had a son

named Adeodatus.

Which means “gift of God.”


We don’t know what his mother’s name means.

Because we don’t know her name.

Because in all of his confessions,

Augustine didn’t think it worth mentioning.

Anti-Ode to my hair

At least Samson got jacked

for the low price of 

never visiting the barber before


Delilah claimed that he would 

look so much better 

with bangs.


At least Rapunzel’s

prince could climb those tresses

into her private chamber.


My hair is 

merely the soft side of velcro,

the glue on the

 

sticky-note, 

destined to catch 

on everything. Starch it 


vellum stiff, staple it back 

with pins and barrettes, still

the latch locked knots get yanked


and stray hairs piddle onto 

the shower floor. I want 

electric boots, and 


a mohair suit, but I get 

wriggling seaweed,


a thicket of dark strands,

that wad up on the 

sparkly purple comb

that my sister bought for me 

20 years ago.


I plaster them to the wall

so the drain doesn’t back up, and create


a temporary keratin Pollock

before it goes in the waste-bin.


Medusa, lucky girl,

never needed

a comb, and a well trained snake


might bend prehensile, and hand 

you a piece of popcorn

from your bag, while you slope on 


the couch, watching pretty people 

shave their heads, because they are 

so sad.


Rejection Notice
inspired by Francoise Gilot’s “Oceanic Woman”

I have never given up

the dandelion-seed certainty

that my portal fantasy

was waiting inside pages.


You rub me raw,

a too tight ballet flat,

envy and blisters-

I cannot walk through your frame.


Let me share your blankets,

ink-drunk Isis. Unlace the binding

on the spine of your cardboard bed frame.

I promise not to snore.


I sliced my finger tip open

on your knife slick edge,

but a bloody fingerprint

is worth less than spit and eyelashes.


You keep the door locked,

with your papercut eyes

that measure me 

a page’s width off.

Jaclyn Hogan is a graduate of UAB, and a librarian assistant at The Birmingham Public Library in Birmingham, AL. Her work has been featured in the #MeToo issue of Not Your Mother’s Breast Milk, Aura Literary Arts Review, The Halcyone’s 64 Best Poets of 2019, From Whispers to Roars, and Tofu Ink. In her free time, she reads, plays with her niblings, and considers the destruction of the patriarchy.