Book Excerpt: Peony Vertigo

Jan Conn

(USA)

A ROLLER COASTER, A HIT, A PINT-SIZED DEVIL MACHINE,

SOME DARK CHOCOLATE

 

I stole from you a noun

hijacked a verb

 

I declared I’m mostly female, a peony

in the mouth of spring, too late

 

I’ve constructed a gorgeous building equal to or better than

any one of Gehry’s, made from my and Lou Reed’s

 

cross-dressing days               Be careful in the large

incarceration space of America         be very careful

                                          *****

AFTER-IMAGE

 

During the scant time between our births        me and my brother

Both grandfathers died and one grandmother

came to live with us                 then three younger sisters

                        This being the order of external events

            Internal ones   beyond our grasp

                                   *****

PART STAR, PART VENOM                     PART BONE, PART MICROPLASTIC

 

We are greatly swayed in our thinking

                        by the rabbit sketched on the full moon’s face

 

            Her tattoos are unexpected⎯hundreds of ants climbing up and down

arms and legs

 

                                    I wondered what trail they are following

 

I said quietly, the ants are here now    They are your friend

            Don’t be afraid

            of anything

Peony Vertigo is published by Brick Books, late 2023.

Jan Conn

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Canadian Jan Conn’s tenth book of poetry, Peony Vertigo, is forthcoming in the fall of 2023 from Brick Books. She is a member of the collaborative writing group Yoko’s Dogs whose third book of renga is Caution Tape (Collusion Books, 2021). As a biologist, she studies the ecology and population genetics of mosquitoes that transmit malaria parasites, and travels extensively to Latin America to conduct fieldwork. Her visual art has been shown in Toronto, Albany (NY) and several venues in western Massachusetts.

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