Russell Jaffe teaches at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar
Rapids, IA and creates installation art in Iowa City. He holds an
MFA in Poetry from Columbia College. His poems have appeared
in Shampoo, The Portland Review, elimae, Action Yes, and others.
His chapbook G(*)D is forthcoming from Pudding House Press.

My first book of the stars

It was a book about dinosaurs. There were unlimited
burning illustrations–beaks, claws, armored skin like
fat rolls of molten lava or gold, and all that shimmer.
They seemed comfortable eating. But in the spaces of their
eyes, predatory patient or hunting guiltlessly the best leaves,
these foggy liquids, these sympathetic parts, I saw two things:
The places I would eventually go,
and what gildings had happened that I wanted to hold
but were white hot, peripheral.

The star I named

Your special eyes are just collapsing.
Sweet fusion.
One day our child will have a fashionable name,
One day our child's white privilege will be an open crib.
For now it's as simple as your hands with your face in them.
This gesture is not so vacuous.
Leave out cooking flour; wormholes let me know you left it.
Let's talk the void illuminated
my special, my baby, my pinpoint uncharted.

This isn't your fault

Joyousness was the computer arriving in fresh green S foam peanuts
and I wanted to call them seeds. I didn't; they were lime green
and like dry cheesecake. Animals like me love harvested sugar
and fertility arrives in green armloads.
This is how joy came to me.

the hopelessness comes in
pizza boxes
memory leaves on
green, chalky
dollar bills
as a tip.

Today is the day everything speaks to me

Greenish blue ink flag tattoos and area rugs–
I'm staying in again, please think of me as a prone hearth
grumble like grass in tin can rain.

I listen to the empty hum where walls collide in corners, and infinitely.
You don't have the courage to shut that damn thing off.
Between pauses the phone tells me
bring, bring, bring,
You don't have the courage to call yourself displaced.

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