Computer Chess, by Jared Pearce

Computer Chess
by Jared Pearce

I keep clicking undo
to trace my losing
streak, to find out

All my mistakes.
If I go another way,
if I had allowed my brother

To tag along more often,
or if I had not lied to my friends
to protect my embarrassment,

Or if I had been more subtle
or more striking, would the children
be happy then? And with her,

What could I have done
better to love? I’m not sure
I can find my way past those bishops

Of self-deceit or the surprising leap
from revelatory knights
to hold that Queen

So she’ll see me and want me.
I’m always back at the game’s beginning,
fretting over the pawns of diet

And so many hours slept, holding
dear to my rooks for the endgame—
the end that comes no matter

How far back I go or how
much I can erase of where
I started or how I got here.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

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Cutting, by Jared Pearce

Cutting
by Jared Pearce

One would have her leg
hacked off, another an arm—
such appendages seem easy
to divide. But others went
for fashion: buttocks
and trim the thighs, or my head
must be ten percent my body
mass. And some for bits to cheat
loss by removing every other toe,
one ear, the incisors, hair.

Until she said her
too big breasts, worthless
lobes, too in-the-way,
too defining, the two great balls
chaining me to womanhood,
making me a sex—these stones
strapping me in a drowning
when what I want is to be held
with a light grace, apart
from what I am or am not.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Portals, by Jared Pearce

Portals
by Jared Pearce

The contractor came to see about
where I wanted a hole punched
in the back brick wall to make
a closet and keep the pantry.

We measured, we bartered,
we shook hands, until on the front path
he told me both his parents died
within a month of each other:

He hadn’t shed a tear, he said,
though his pastor encouraged his grief;
He’s been having trouble getting back
to work, he said, he can’t handle

The somewhere revving saw
to cut into a lighted room from
a darkened passage, a blueprint
showing where the load and stress

Should be anchored to rest.
There’s no point in crying,
he said; now that they’re gone,
what tears could cut like diamonds?

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Skeleton, by Jared Pearce

Skeleton
by Jared Pearce

How could it have happened,
toad, you dead and left a perfect
skeleton on the campus walk?

How could the hungry birds
or hustling student feed have passed
your crunchy morsel, mistaken

For a scrunched cupcake wrapper?
And how could I have found you,
complete, except your eyes,

The skinny leather of your hide
tanning itself on your brittle frame,
a frame perfect inside its sack

sucked dry, a series of sticks that shift
our gears upon the planet, a bundle
like a lodge, a lever that lets us roll the Earth.

That’s all the machinery we’ve got:
what good is a scrambled-egg brain
or spider-nest nerves against

The arm’s hatchet or quarterstaff
swung of the hip. You were right,
toad, we’re built for valor

And making grace before
our long rest where we hand it back
in its dustcloth, worn and happy.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Endangered, by Jared Pearce

Endangered
by Jared Pearce

Tiny frog, remnant
of your dying race,
enjoy this garden,
this cricket feast,
where those weeds
that began their war
last year have invaded
most areas, holding
no prisoners, never
counting their populace
or hassling with birth
control or stopping
the kids from eating
too much.
       Frog, learn
from these weeds:
we can all thrive
if we’ve got someone
to care for and
someone to kill.

Process: I look at something, it looks at me, and as I wonder about it, a poem shows up.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.