jesse hilson — 3 poems


Call the forensic experts,
Have them investigate every day stretching
Eleven years back die the wavy time-tunnel,

To capture a glimpse of the mood disorder in its habitat,

Not in a random photo strobe but in a motion picture,
Me asking what was that moviemaker’s name
Who proved all four of the horse’s hooves left
The dusty monochrome earth at the same time?
Or trapped the slow motion of gilded age nudists
Before that gridded wall, Victorian science-erotica.

I generally was having an ok day.
What I couldn’t understand:
How just a few nights of sleep,
And all enthusiasm, attitudes, ideas alter
Until there is no footprint of dust tracking identical
Through all my days.

The faucet’s drip, to fight the freeze,
Manages to look flickery, like strobes
Either one frame too slow or one too fast
To be caught by rolling cameras.

And this one vertical thread of falsehood spreads
To the whole cosmic frame surrounding (the universe
Is a blockbuster picture shot through a mood lens)

So a glitch is created, with all the doubt
That’s necessary for me to run with it.


Figure out the best way to talk to me.
I’ve got a Baretta in your back.
We pulled off the heist together, yes,
But now this is the heist within the heist.

My share of the bullion in a chest 
In the back of my F-150.
Or I press this button 
And a cloud of tiger moths 
Will burst from your favorite henchman’s chest.

No matter where you go
Or how you fortify your life’s crawlspaces
Someone will always be watching,
Holding each animal of the Chinese Zodiac
Hostage in turn
Just waiting for my word.

When you come to the meet
At the abandoned quarry,
Come alone.
Otherwise I’ll vanish and I’ll rob from you
All your stored-up facial recognition.
So that after you die in gunfire,
Upon entering the promised land,
You’ll wonder who the gathered platform crowd
Is waiting to embrace.


The senses can be added to, but only to a point.
And then like needle-shafts of conifers
Approaching too close to the forest path
They must be trimmed back.
People, even poets, are only handed five or six senses at a time,
Out of which to peer at one cosmos at a time.
So what is the plural of cosmos?

Even while dreaming, the poet’s eyes or hands
Can only mold Nadezhda’s sloping breasts from outside,
They cannot shape the airy cosmos from within
The twin recesses of her inverted chest,
From heart through ribcage outward,
Through breast through bra through KGB microphone
Through blouse through overcoat and scarf
And then into the outer world of wintry plaza where
A blue Zaporozhets will cough monoxide wisps
Into the troika’s face, or faces.
On the KGB tape, the trochees of Nadezhda’s heartbeat match
The echoes of a sled dog’s barks a verst, or verse, away.

When you’re a poet no one just approaches you
And tells you. You must deduce your fate
From among the five-hundred-and-fifty-five clues
That, like feathers off the invisible peacock,
The cosmos shed at you.
The cosmos shed at you.
The cosmos sheds at you.
Back up out of the grammatical cul de sac.
Where the subject/verb agreement grafts.
Backing into verbs, knocking them over,
You were distracted, watching the adjective
Fuck the noun. You’re a voyeur for that.

Are you bothered by the syntactic view
Into my transparent skulls?
Reverse your steps up the forest path,
Un-scissor the conifer needles
Back into place.

JESSE HILSON is a writer and comics artist living in the Catskills in New York State. His writing has appeared in AZURE, Maudlin House, Pink Plastic House, Punk Noir, ExPat Press, Misery Tourism, Orchid's Lantern, and elsewhere. His comics will appear in Misery Tourism, Bear Creek Gazette, and Excuse Me Mag. His novel Blood Trip will be published in 2022 by Close to the Bone. His poetry chapbook Handcuffing the Venus De Milo will be published in 2022 by Sparrow's Trombone. He can be reached on Twitter at @platelet60