“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
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 velvet lushness, no silk and rain.
I wriggle for a cleansing metaphor, and fall
through exhausted shadows into
Even in eighteen hundred and starved to death,
men had blood in their veins.
But his mouth hums sharp of oil and nickel.
of stainless steel and vacuum tubes,
I do not keep his
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,
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
They had a son
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
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
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
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,
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
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.