Buffalo Girl


for Triệu Thị Trinh


History makes little bundles out

of the unthinkable


young boys carve


three-foot breasts


to keep your story otherworldly and

ridiculous; a crisp blade slips


from view We stand


at the Albertson’s Customer

Service and I hold my


breath as you ready a


well-worn trap


discount oversight:


grave mistake

A set of eyes


exhaust and I


almost feel for

our opposing force who does not


know the survival of ants


under glass ::


long after your death you haunted

soldiers’ dreams the Chinese


Commander that slayed you built


fallacies to try and keep you

still

Poor men and their


fantasies of time and blood


that pass only during the duration of war


Victory painted the

parking lot lucky-red


In every windshield I swear I saw

the glint of a slow storm


in your eyes


history books are forever


missing the details of unfathomable


loss— providing discounts

on over-stocked goods You are my


mother —minor warrior— who has


never needed saving who has

never needed memory to make


a home (a good home) alone


in the woods



 

Kleptomania V: To Know and Laugh at the New Country


Hands spending, hands


undid and undoing a clock

with no hands that thumb


a way through hangers,

that switch the tags, that


strangers pockets, that reject

the terms of protection.


We cannot know what


you cannot hold and here,

for you: a perfect


peach in the palm of my

hand. Let it disappear


you. Have it hunger


across still-bent

bodies in


repose: one muddy

river to another.


And look: a wasp, the

taste of Big Macs and


nuclear-red Twizzlers—

our mouths savoring air.


Four firm wheels and


traffic lights, drive-thrus

and dirty dancing.


I said look:


it was worth it

for a time.


 


Poem in Which I Narrowly Escape My Birth


Do you ever feel like flesh? I do.


Bleached poem about the


broken jade bracelet my

mom hid in the front of


her underpants on a


helicopter for which

she bartered a fairy


tale. USA #1 on the skip

track, saying here we go ‘round


the mulberry bush babe stick

it around your fat, white


wrists until it cracks. Bright-

light-waisted fingers, the


same size, but it’s all different

now, she sd, it’s all gone.



Smoothed down panic

with a memory


that was never there to

begin with: some clean


country of arrivals and plenitude,

some fluent daughter’s palm


to place seedlings and

transpiration.



And the story about the dead-

faced sergeant doesn’t need a


translation. Hell, it doesn’t

even need words. Mama:


know a traveling girl with

a basket never keeps the


bread or the wine. She


loses talons for a time and

forgets the image of her


grandmother’s face.



Keep it on your person,

keep it forever under


gauze, keep it safe in the


brick of wet banana leaf-

loss, find me, gone too,


for you.



Somewhere between

the dead sergeant’s deed


and the sea.



 

JESSICA Q. STARK is a poet and educator living in Jacksonville, Florida. Her first full-length poetry collection, Savage Pageant, was published by Birds, LLC in March 2020 and was named one of the "Best Poetry Books of 2020" in the Boston Globe and in Hyperallergic. She is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including most recently INNANET (The Offending Adam, 2021). Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Poetry Daily, Carolina Quarterly, Poetry Society of America, wildness, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Hobart Pulp, Glass Poetry Journal, and others. She is an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI and the Comics Editor for Honey Literary. She teaches writing at the University of North Florida.