Jamison Lee is a postdoctoral fellow at Illinois State University where he studies digital audio poetics, mindfulness and composition, critical pedagogy, and the ethics of off-color humor; and teaches courses in composition, creative writing, humor theory, and literature. His most recent work appears in Stanley the Whale, Cordite, and Touchstone Literary Journal. Lee lives in Normal, Illinois.
Festival events: 2012 AWP Chicago
How to Identify a Demon
I am the bed. (Single.) Of this crying, touching. Two sides they have (and are) and I, my mattress. Of the common class. Contains. Dream. Fucking. Multitoots.
We were in a grocery store parking lot, my brothers and I. Waiting for parents. But we were this age: lying down, fighting for covers, watching other children giggle and marvel at the grocery carts they slammed into a van’s bumper.
Raising up under the meekest of these are bruises, scratches, cum, cat vomit. And when you go to college, it’s similar. (Your gluteal slat begins to sag.)
When she gets a new one, I’m given to the boyfriend, the admirable one with the lazy-eyed cat. Relative poverty. Severing. Slow. Vibrations of anguish. Cowlike. But. Together, we find new tears and cum. Inevitable tragedy. Dramatically. (Noticing humans. Favor thinking over breathing. And, sick from hormonal cat piss, my epithelial paneling peels.)
Soon he shuns the utility of my under-frame storage drawers—or perhaps grows ashamed of the way I look. Upon a loan and another girlfriend he comes. For a bigger bed, he trades me to his father—recently divorced, bankrupt, and wearing the cold of his trousers’ bottom. Unpliable. Slash reconciled. Unlearning a forgotten psychology of adjustment.
“You Amish boys really are craftier than I realized.”
“Yeah, we sure do know how to throw a pine bed frame over a second story deck.”
But, to move a mattress, something more than twine is needed. Or not. At least a tarp is required.
No it isn’t.
New dad sets old sweaters and nonfiction in my drawers: How to Identify a Demon and Stop Walking on Eggshells under dated v-neck hems.
Low snores yielding dream, succumbing: He parks the truck between the birch tree and Grandma’s bed. Turning to the bleachers where most of Mom’s extended family sits, he plays the Charlie Brown theme song on a jaw harp, scoring their argument about whether it’s a good idea to put a dwarf Christmas tree lot in the front yard without first doing a cost analysis. Composing Grandma’s torso are neatly arranged slices of imitation crab meat, kind of stuck together like the way it comes in packages. Under this din, they hug—her body cold as deviled eggs. He wonders if she knows he really means it this time. He photographs the toys they put on top of her while she sleeps. An exposé.
It’s hard to say if he has a kitchen; you experience inversions of: “A life without pain is a life without smell.” The years are quiet, empathic. Wood glued. But, upon your exit, he’s brutally detached. In fairness, you recall how very slender the staircase.
Thrown over balcony. Again. To the thrift store. To a poor somebody. Sleeping. It’s only a rhythm. They pass through. A closed window. To bed (me). Aural. Dream of sirens. Ululating through spongecake. Wall paramedic ambiance. For the quiet poor. Light swirling. Above. No sirens. (Strange how I miss cat litter in my eyes.)
In foster care now, I listen to a child—recently arrived—get really excited to learn of an intervening meal called “lunch.” Bloody Tonka truck games raise my grain. The laughter so bizarre.
Says his parents sucked blood from his back. He would sneak into the night for a banana. And share it with his sister. Put the peel underneath the bed and eat it two days later.
“Oh, yeah… we did that, too.”
american song flute
in my father’s house are many
mansions in my father
‘s modular home are many
mansions in my mouth are many kick
and snare drum sounds I make
them nod my head, my nose
hairs’ hi hats I also when
i sleep make them when I need
a mouthpiece because lately
when I wake my jaw
hurts if there is no father
no chasm but definitely chasm
is there if no father orgasm
seem to chasm the moment holy
fucking right can that be
god it is father and no
birds to care for one
who cares for dead notes
in this american song flute