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  • Jonathan Fletcher

Five Poems

Mummy

Encased like a frozen Incan

mummy, I lay inside

a warm, plastic incubator,

a knitted cap atop my head,

a quilt around my body.


Lighter-skinned than the woman

who birthed me, you say

my name and smile, reach gently

into the ports, caress

my tubed, wired limbs.


Soon, they’ll unhook me.

Soon, you’ll hold me. Someday,

you’ll tell me how you found

me, why you chose me,

what you sacrificed. And


layer by layer, layer by layer,

I’ll share what I remember.

We’ll unearth, unwrap.

And honor what has been lost.

And cradle what remains.

 
Medusa

The way you attach

electrodes to my scalp,

let them drape behind

my head, I must

look like a Gorgon.


Though punished

by no goddess, I feel

cursed. Though

no Ascelpius,

you diagnose, treat.

Though no oracle,

you foresee recovery:


With 6 to 8 sessions,

you should begin to feel

changes in your mood.


I want to believe

your prophecy.

I want to cut

back on Abilify,

Lamictal.


I want to kill

the monster inside.


But everywhere I look,

I see stone. I see gray.


Even the television

you have me watch.

Even the bright,

colorful, looping

images. Even your face

in the screen.


Even my own reflection.

 
Epithalamium for My Best Friend and His Future Husband

Let us begin in a different kind

of garden. Let us

bless the day you fell

for each other.


Let’s rename the animals.

Let’s deadname nobody.

Let’s name the prejudice.

Let’s redo Paradise.


No creature is unwelcome

here. Slither or walk.

Climb or fly.

Crawl, crawl, crawl.


Come in pairs. Come

in threes or fours. Come

in fives. Come, come.


If you’re accursed, come.

If you’re banished, come.

In fact, lead the way.


Let us shake the trees for apples.

Let us bite in with no regrets.

Let us chew even the cores.

Let us ingest the seeds.

Let us feel right from wrong

in the belly, not just the heart.


Where Adam and Eve failed,

the two of you will prevail.


Behold what you have made.


It is good;

it always was.

 
Phantom

Even now, you claim

you don’t see color. How do you see me?

What is love without hue?

I am not a ghost; please

don’t treat me like one.


Sometimes you make me

feel invisible, like when you tell me,

I didn’t raise you to be like them.

(You’re right; I’m

not like them; I am them.)


Or when you question

why Columbus’s statue bothers me.

Or the use of his name

for the chapter you run.

Do you really have to ask?


Though I try to call you in,

I sometimes call you out.

Let my words haunt

you without harming you.

It’s hard to correct those you love.


That’s my unfinished business.

 
Dinocampus coccinellae

Thanks to a virus

that attacks the brain—

much like the disease in mine—

you feast and grow

inside a ladybug, burst

from her abdomen.


Remarkably, she doesn’t die.


As you weave a cocoon

between her legs, take

neurological control,

her spotted carapace of red

convulses, scaring

off potential predators.


It is possible she will recover,

only to be parasitized again.


It is possible she won’t survive.


It is possible she’ll unfold

her alae, flap gently,

then quickly, trying

to forget what resided

inside her head

as she lifts, flutters, rises,


far, far above you

 

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Jonathan Fletcher, a queer, disabled writer of color, holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in Poetry from Columbia University School of the Arts. He has been published in Arts Alive San Antonio, The BeZine, BigCityLit, Catch the Next: Journal of Ideas and Pedagogy, Colossus Press, Door is a Jar, DoubleSpeak, Emerge Literary Journal, Flora Fiction, FlowerSong Press, fws: a journal of literature & art, The Greyhound Journal, Half Hour to Kill, Heimat Review, Hyacinth Review, LONE STARS, Midway Journal, The MockingOwl Roost, MONO., Moot Point, The Muse, The Nelligan Review, The New Croton Review, New Feathers Anthology, OneBlackBoyLikeThat Review, The Opal, Otherwise Engaged Journal: A Literature and Arts Journal, The Phare, Quibble, Rigorous, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature, Route 7 Review, The San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Living, Spoonie Press, Synkroniciti, Tabula Rasa Review, The Thing Itself, TEJASCOVIDO, Unlikely Stories Mark V, voicemail poems, Voices de la Luna, Waco WordFest, and Yearling: A Poetry Journal for Working Writers. Additionally, his work has been featured by The League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area and at the Briscoe Western Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art. In 2023, his work was also chosen as a finalist for the Plentitudes Prize in Poetry. He has served as a Columbia Artist/Teacher for New York City’s iHOPE, a specialized school for students with traumatic brain injuries, as well as a poetry editor for Exchange, Columbia University’s literary magazine for incarcerated writers and artists. Currently, he serves as a Zoeglossia Fellow.


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