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Justin Jannise

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SONG: VERTIGO

  

Here we go, vertigo
Try and fight this, Ms. Tinnitus
Bring it on and ring it on
And on and on and on we go
Taking turns with vertigo

  

Doing shots with vertigo
Whiskey, vodka, banana rum
A Dixie cup of cucumber phlegm
A swaying swig of amber fire
From the flask (who’s flask? (who knows?))

  

I guess with the gut’s the way to go
Go with your gut, O green vertigo

  

Congratulations to the fox
Felicitaciones, his fiancée
The sun is black (the rain is yellow)
The sign says open (the door is closed)
And the facts are neon vertigo

  

We don’t know what we’ve been sold
We’d rather take it back
The fox says stop (the wife says go)
The peacock’s fallen off her rainbow
The barn hangs upside down and black

  

I guess with the gut’s the way to go
Go with your gut, O flushed vertigo

  

Sterling farmers flanked by crows
Say the crop is lost, the draught, the flood,
The fox, the bees, the fire -- the blame will go
Rotting out the gums, inflamed, the sound
A dull and piercing ring -- the doctor called. (It’s vertigo.)

  

C’mon, cure! C’mon, pill!
C’mon, sugar-coated swill!
A little more, a little less
Just a few more days to go
Before the labcoats tank the trial

  

I guess with the gut’s the way to go
Go with your gut, O weird placebo

  

Can I get a foothold in another realm?
Another sleeve to iron in another town?
With another wage, could I wage this war
From another camp, with other friends,
Friends I didn’t know before?

  

There’s nothing I don’t know I know
Until the vial comes roaring back
And the centrifuge parts red from black
Like Vegas addicts shooting craps
When will it stop, no one knows

  

I guess with the gut’s the way to go
And the winner, either way, is vertigo 

 

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COCHLEA

  

meaning spiral or snail shell
a         cavity in the     labyrinth

 

                                 the partition
separating
                    chambers in the tapered tube of the

          turn.

  

Screw
its coiled shape;

  

                    Bone, in           waves  from the
                                        window to the
                                                           canal,
the location where
                    with hair
the walls of the hollow            are made of     thin.

  

                                  It is essential   to exit
somewhere.

  

                                        Rich in
                  electrical potential

  

the stirrup        transmits vibrations to the
                                  footplate and towards the
          mammal
    organ.

  

Strong movement                    may cause
                     loss and is the reason why        firearms often
           lead to

 

      only a fraction of the power needed. 

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DROSS CRESSING

  

At some unplace-
able point between
medaling and slipping,
the pole vaulter's
whole identity
shifts. Nothing like not-
winning to cause
such a rift in a
competitive personality.
So that what
was always as ugly
as sin yet carefully un-
curated, filed, like marbled
fat, within the stainless
cabinets of the
collection, rises
with fierce resentment
to the surface. A smile is
cracked and then dark
laughter replaces it,
as those sanctioned
for display step aside,
reluctant and afraid.
Who we were, and are,
we know the former
becomes the latter
by degrees, though there
is still much mystery
as to how these wasted
limbs sprout leaves. 

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Justin Jannise holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared in the Yale Review, North American Review and The Awl. He lives in Houston, where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston.

Process Notes:

I trust children more than adults. I guess I’m a Romantic in that sense. Particularly when it comes to art, children’s impressions are more honest. Their thinking does not have to pass through the safety valves of learnedness. 
 
“It reminds me of an ear," my twelve-year-old nephew said, when I showed him the artwork by Lauren Frances Evans, providing me with the opening I needed. The ear makes music — poetry — accessible, so I allowed my ear to guide me from there. 
 
In “Song: Vertigo,” this meant trusting certain rhymes and refrains that the rational part of my brain typically wouldn’t. (No surprise, perhaps, that what resulted was a kind of drinking song.) 
 
“Cochlea” is actually an erasure of the Wikipedia entry. I felt like a diamond miner searching for those beautifully concrete images buried in ugly scientific language. 
 
I suppose one could think of ekphrasis as a kind of aesthetic cross dressing. I'm not a painter but I enjoy pretending to be one -- using words in the place of naughty garments. However, words are imperfectly suited to the task. Signals get crossed. Letters trade places. "Dross Cressing" abandons all discernible ties to the picture and returns to my obsession about identity shifts, and the speed at which they occur. 

All Responses:

Respond to a Prompt:

Submit your response to our current prompt(s). See our Submissions Guidelines page for details.

Justin Jannise holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared in the Yale Review, North American Review and The Awl. He lives in Houston, where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston.

Process Notes:

I trust children more than adults. I guess I’m a Romantic in that sense. Particularly when it comes to art, children’s impressions are more honest. Their thinking does not have to pass through the safety valves of learnedness. 
 
“It reminds me of an ear," my twelve-year-old nephew said, when I showed him the artwork by Lauren Frances Evans, providing me with the opening I needed. The ear makes music — poetry — accessible, so I allowed my ear to guide me from there. 
 
In “Song: Vertigo,” this meant trusting certain rhymes and refrains that the rational part of my brain typically wouldn’t. (No surprise, perhaps, that what resulted was a kind of drinking song.) 
 
“Cochlea” is actually an erasure of the Wikipedia entry. I felt like a diamond miner searching for those beautifully concrete images buried in ugly scientific language. 
 
I suppose one could think of ekphrasis as a kind of aesthetic cross dressing. I'm not a painter but I enjoy pretending to be one -- using words in the place of naughty garments. However, words are imperfectly suited to the task. Signals get crossed. Letters trade places. "Dross Cressing" abandons all discernible ties to the picture and returns to my obsession about identity shifts, and the speed at which they occur.