Arse Poetica

by Leena Joshi

My mother and father are apoetic so I think all of these words
must have manifested inside me like a bacterial spread. The first time I heard
Our Father Who Art In Heaven I thought, my father does not Art in Heaven,
unless you count starting up computer software companies as creative. Also
he’s alive and also, screw heaven. Art in Heaven won’t mean anything
because surely, we can’t carry over contention.

On afterlife, as long as we’re pretending, I’ll say hell I believe in.
Late at night when I think about what I’m doing with my self
and my bacterial word infection and I have friends with jobs
at some big company – which I would like to take the time now to say
I’m smart enough and could do that too and better, probably –
all I feel in the dark is a chattering of grins and teeth, and I try to laugh
back at them, like a homeless insolvent would laugh at me.

Isn’t poetry just like peeing on everything so our smell hangs around later,
acrid and deeply felt? Right here I’d rather scupper the thoughts and turn over,
saying fuck the poem, there never was a poem here, just some lost sounds
that jump you like the fall before stage one sleep. I’ve felt bad about pretending
not to have my sanity, like that one time I dressed as a punk for Halloween
and a wall-leaner yelled that’s just my life, man as I passed him on the street.

Let me keep bringing my best until all that’s left behind is the worst,
just the fats and sugars to distill into this verse. I will praise platitudes.
Life is sweet. It oscillates from young light to opaque weight and in the mix,
we are still gifted burning glances and kitchen mornings and deep sleep.
More or less, there is a fear of death, which begets a fear of being forgotten,
which is why we do anything, unless it’s for sex. I wish someone would believe me
when I say I don’t do anything for sex – just for credibility.

Leena Joshi completed the University of Washington’s undergraduate Creative Writing program, where she was a recipient of the Joan Grayston Prize in poetry. Her work has been featured before in the Red Cedar Review. An Oregon native currently living in Seattle, Washington, she likes the rain but for all she knows, it could be because it’s all she knows.