:: Article

Graduation & other poems

By Jackson Arn.

Three Pieces from the Museo Bardini

they were straight
but only when examined one
at a time. Together,
a mess of jitters
too prolific for perfect
too outnumbered for
unperfect of the kind
rehearsed by the Great Wall
or the pyramids,
little saucerfull of
motive, trivia,
idiom, for
reading not

for you my friend.
Don’t be bothered by
the Penguin Classics cover, ochers
of wit almost gone back to soil,
beasts lost in the flood or
survived but without tongues
or claws or feathers

actually, nevermind. Those little mouths
sucking flies—Rumpelstiltskin
had to remain a bachelor. And are
a million harmless munchkins harmless? It’s enough
to make you ditch the charm of
a smudge before
a board meeting, the fart joke
while you tied your tie


You bought the uniform. But did
anyone else? Sometimes, you know,
it’s possible to sluff a heart
on the table, but everything
possible isn’t always
prudent. I mean,
think of Uncle Jeff flicking
the president’s likeness on the table, did he
ever win back anything that
misted his eyes or otherwise enlarged
his puny limbic
glands? And did
he ever wrap the Christmas gifts he flicked on
the table? Or did he wallow
in the cynical confidence that
we are alike in the dullest ways, talent
either a misread label or a wrinkle
in the packaging?

You can see now
he had to go,
can’t you? I won’t pretend
nights aren’t sluggish sometimes
but I pride myself on mixing
memories freely
so that everything scratches and nothing
leaves a mark. If I teach you anything
let it bring you
more sleep than I get,
if I teach you anything.


Jackson Arn is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work has appeared in 4×4, Reverse Shot, and Afterimage. His essay “In Pursuit of Uselessness” was awarded the Bunner Prize for critical writing at Columbia University. The first story he ever wrote was about aliens invading the Earth. They won.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016.