j a k e    s y e r s a k


from The Tell of Unapologetic Landscapes


The hand began an animal...

I want to believe the world...



"The hand began an animal, & from thereon filled" is false, I think—

but I'd say we believe it less because we feel at odds with

Michelangelic genesis & moreso that to abstract the animal screams

solo agency. Go ahead, paint a lily. It's the cerebral strokes of a lily's

unfurling—& not the flesh—lives in the pivot of my, your, our

wrists. I'm pointing the finger. Rather than digress, I reproduce to a t,

via chalk, van Gogh's La Nuit Etoilée on a blackboard & then erase it

with the palms of my hands. To me, when I look at my hands, they

are starred like asterisks are—& night is an empty septic suck. I've

read that in la Cueva de las Manos there's a wall of nothing but

hands, chaos of hands, stenciled ornamental BC-era hands, star-

thrashing the room like a flower's wanton. The two holding this

poem hold belief like designer labels of that.





I want to believe the world began in "a cave wall's unwillingness to

hold psyche" & ended in André Masson's Les Soleils Furieux—this,

a very human apocalypse. An essay in awe. To self-destruct & cohere

by utopian desire for control of chaos. The artistry of wire inside clay,

of whimpers caulking a shriek. I was obsessed, as a child, with

drawing superheroes, only superheroes, any superhero collapsible to

a comic's panel, an event, a scene, a moment. The only one I

remember—at least intensely, intently working on, is a drawing of a

hand drawing Spider-Man. I quote Clayton Eshleman's "to be human

is to realize that one is a metaphor, and to be a metaphor is to be

grotesque (initially of the grotto)" before I tell you it took me weeks

to draw that hand.



JAKE SYERSAK earned his MFA from the University of Arizona and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. His poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Colorado Review, and Ninth Letter. He serves as editor for Cloud Rodeo and Letter Machine Editions.

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