The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2021

All Issues
JUNE 2021 Issue


Woman with Cake

I want to buy and eat and sleep well

So I marinate my emails

In a professional tone

Whatever time I spend at this 

Burgers into value

These are damp and bready hours

Which I can convert into tenancy


Eleven geese are commuting 

Across somewhere’s pale sky 

And I’m increasingly wishing 

Not to be seen

A zoo at night

A public caring

I don’t want the climb or clench anymore

I want time to be my own

Let there be room enough to curl around

A docile error 

Like the observations of a vacationer

In bald eagle tie dye

Or the assumptions of a docent

With social feelings

I read somewhere about ancient sculptures 

Of female drummers

Mislabeled Woman with Cake

Domestic totems in museums

With their arousals and amusements

Dormant but ample 

Anemic longings

What I drizzle over

All my beautiful cakes

Hog Lagoon

I knew a beautiful woman with the bruisiest ego

Like a foamy sunset

It undazzled

Vanity works like a dental pick

Sharp at both ends

I don’t pretend to roll the windows down

In a Cadillac of hypocrisy

And look out on some moral vista

No, I twirl my mercy like a baton

And build suspense in the billowing

My heart can be so mutton

Mostly I observe the world with great affection

Otherwise it’s disgust

If the field of my vision

Lands on something pitiful

I feel as grotesque as a diapered bear

Balancing on a ball

And also there is jeering

The universal sound of wanting something to fail

The sound my heart spontaneously makes

When I consider bail bondsmen, oil tycoons, elephant poachers…

I get sick with the simultaneity

Of knowing we’re all in the mire together

Inundated and overtopped

Maybe the squeaky soul gets the grace

A doomy souvenir

I never thought we would lie on velvet poufs

Unjealous and braiding each other’s hair

But I did hope there would be snacks

Popcorn Futures

I was on a break from quitting 

I decided to stop donating to politicians 

I’m tired of the ways they meet my expectations

Their bland hors d’oeuvres 

Forever trapped outside the work 

I get it

I go to the market for easy offerings

Red pepper marmalade, brie, gluten free crackers

A drama free umbrella

At the checkout conveyor, I employ a certain genius for arrangements 

Shapes flare out like a fractal

I’m tired of repetition

I have to drive past this strip mall and several others to see the river

The bloated doe on its bank

Whose death seems natural and is therefore mystifying

Legible to someone fluent in the dialect of doomsday

It’s hard not to stay pinned under the heaviness of all we’ve done to invite it 

In whatever interim, I’ll make myself an instrument of care 

A tennis ball hung from a garage rafter

It doesn’t matter if a ceremony is religion exactly

Or an apotropaic tantrum

As long as you are facing forward in your convictions

Take the pundits wanting to keep us in snacks 

Through every vicissitude

Wanting us to have appetites 

To invest in popcorn

I want to invest in my own consequences

I’m writing doom and dread again

These are the signs and symptoms 

Endemic to the end of a series of centuries 

Spent staging our elimination

One new moon, there will be a final shofar blown across an analog sky

Followed by a bathic silence

A guttural equivocation

A feeling of contrition 

Sharper than a kernel lodged in the gumline


Sarah Jean Grimm

Sarah Jean Grimm is the author of Soft Focus (Metatron, 2017) and an editor at the small poetry press, After Hours Editions.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2021

All Issues