Jessica Guzman

Post-Storm Assessment

I spray X on my front door.
I set the table, plastic
on plastic, secured by stone. Two
days after the hurricane, I grill
freezer burned flanks & elbow
bread, sink candles in the split ends
of Entenmann Jelly Rolls. All dogs
attend. I shovel sargassum
from the den, apologize excess
is the only thing left. Late,
the landlord arrives for wine
& Go Fish. He wins. A dog growls
when he vomits into a Santa hat,
red into red. I offer to call
a cab. Down the sidewalk
the landlord says, “My leases
don’t allow pets.” Cypress
shoots stuck to my legs, I gather
banana leaves from the bed,
switch kerosene for flashlight,
strobe over the dogs’ dream-pedal
and the crunch of my own steps.
It’s hard enough to name the beetle
in the plum pit while juice
chutes down your chin. I peel off
skin, the carapace of another
shedding season glutting my heel.

Recycled & Recyclable*

Make your own rabbit ashtray, squirrel footrest
with pumice stone attachment. Hold two items
at once: fossils, chisel-tipped in low odor ink.
On woolens and wood finishes, set and refresh
the faces—under certain circumstances ignited
by persistent or chronic contact. Love at first
touch. With the creation of parkways, monuments,
every American continues to eat his own eyeball.
Like hair stripped of natural oils, such as occurs
even without animal-derived ingredients. Rendered
here in light, the generous lather leaves your dog
smelling so good you might not want to let go.
*A found poem. All language pulled from:
Colibri Lavender Sachet Packet
N.W. School of Taxidermy Advertisement
Conair Foot Spa Box
EXPO Markers Package
National Parks Book of Stamps
Dust Off Electronics Duster Can
Too Faced Primer and Setting Spray Bottle
Halls Cough Suppressant Pack
Studio 35 Beauty Nail Polish Remover Bottle
Exploding Kittens Card Game Box
Pampers Diaper Package
Ameritrade Advertisement
DevaCurl Milk Cleanser Bottle
Buddy Wash Dog Shampoo Bottle

Jessica Guzman is the author of Adelante (Switchback Books, 2020), selected by Patricia Smith as winner of the 2019 Gatewood Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Shenandoah, jubilat, DIALOGIST, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and elsewhere. She teaches at Widener University and lives in Philadelphia.