Listen to Jesse Rice-Evans read her poems, “Patron Saint of Lost Causes” and “[Interlude with Essay abt Pain]”
Patron Saint of Lost Causes
after Grey’s Anatomy S01E08
I start a new strain of antibiotics, spend every night you’re out of town in bed fluffed with heating pads, my family thinking I’m certifiable, correlating seizures with visions, chicken with forgiveness.
Humor me with your psychic energies: frame me amethyst, gold-plated, clove oil smearing ash across my buckwheat pillow. I can text from here; slurp white wine and crackers because if the fever goes away what else can I do I can’t eat soup for every meal.
I wake up predicting dead edge, windowsill lined with diamond shelf, hanging oracle, hardly knowing anything about you; I’m an intellectual; I don’t have friends; I tell my therapist that I cut people off because I don’t have time for them but I feel so lonely anyway and that doesn’t make any sense, fluttery surge of starting a new SNRI, a sliver of mania, how when I hobble into a room everyone stops talking and it’s not to revel in my dope outfit;
Sick in solidarity, my friends say on Instagram; cripple-femme, steam-nap, quitting the tumor, remembering that all my visions are proof of my profundity, the clarity I can etch closer and closer to my spine, a looseness of growing up, shopping for a bikini I may or may not ever wear, always an alternative to yesterday, what I would become if you saw me as the miracle I am, literally I want my life back, a bottle of French white, a good probability of survival, which piece of you resists this promise of survival?
Do you feel anything over here? How about here?
Trust your instincts: bend my spine the way you would bend
anything, a dialogic approach, a way to limit your own scope:
cutting pages out and shredding them into separate garbage cans,
the wow of the practical, the maybe this is how it’s supposed to be
shrug or nod, proceeding towards the tangle of blood,
showing off my insecurities, my nicknames
[ Interlude with Essay abt Pain]
Pain makes me selfish; I close in towards it when I am unable to ignore it. At a reading in a barn I joke, I’ve had two-and-three-quarter beers and my pain meds are working so I am friendly again but I am not joking. I forget the bodies of others, of desire for anything but a dissipation of the pain. I desire only painlessness. Even when I press hard against my partner, my body is tended waiting for it: the inevitable twinge through my shoulders or across my back and I am rendered static by pain or the promise of pain.
While on a retreat in rural Tennessee, I realize how central TV is to my relationship with pain: how dialogue, even when I can’t understand the words, muddies the pain into a congealable narrative, something able to be solved by Olivia Benson in 42 minutes.
The night I write all this, I am itchy all over. It could be anything I recite: scented laundry detergent pesticides in the cotton sheets polyester sheets air conditioning a mast cell response acid reflux neurological Lyme I see spots in the panicked 2:30am shower where the water feels both too hot and like ice over my frizzling nerves. I have to get out of my head: the rash of public suicides blots into my brain, nesting: I have had suicidal ideation nonstop since I was 15 years old and you are the first one I tell: my phone, the software on my phone, the internet but secret just for me and a simulacrum of the Internet I assume in my phone writing onto my phone the screen makes words and I am trusting my hands to know the space well enough to hold space for the language that comes like a river like a thundercloud never breaking just rumbling forever wondering how she holds it but just doing it because it is what she does for others she would do anything for others depending on which ones but the shit I say to myself out loud the shit my ex would hear and call me crazy he said talking to yourself is crazy I was like this is what it’s like to have thoughts not that you would have any idea what that’s like nimrod my mouth can’t keep up with me so how can my hands
I am on a porch listening to women talk about their partners and how it changes, how desire changes how desire happens when other things happen all at once sometimes and often and there are cups of wine and I am avoiding the painkillers but don’t forget anything except the important stuff. Feeling whipped, feeling wrung out like a sponge thrown into the microwave to burn off the bugs
The age of individuation; you have to leave it, Jen says. How do we make those connections the way we should. Or the way she says we should, the structure she feels next.
If there’s one thing I have learned the hard way it’s this
Three days in the South and my accent pours out of my mouth like sweet tea: yankees write all the time of Southern sweet-tea voices but I get to write about them because I have one and I have earned the right
It is up to me to represent stuff
appropriately. This feels unfair, somehow
uneven but I shoulder the burden.
My Black Moon Lilith rests in Libra,
the undeveloped cannot make a decision,
the developing looks for enemies everywhere,
the developed is me: a justice-principled femme
with my own set of mores.
I am told that a developed sign means I have lived many lives
which makes sense, always feeling older than I am
never getting carded
valuing the dismal
I don’t want to hear from you.
I set myself on edge, ready for it, the inevitable creep
back into my bedroom,
new paint urging me
into do what you want
i try to start fresh:
wash my face, buy frozen food at whole foods
write about how i don’t need you
but stay available anyway
Some things are intolerable, but usually we don’t have to stay with them for too long
Jesse Rice-Evans (she/her/hers) is a sick & disabled white femme from North Carolina based in Brooklyn, where she studies access pedagogy and multimodal writing. Read her work in Nat. Brut, Honey & Lime, Hematopoiesis, and glittermob, among many others; in her debut poetry collection The Uninhabitable from Sibling Rivalry Press (2019), and in her four chapbooks, which range from prose to multimedia. Currently, she’s looking for a home for her second full-length collection, titled ACNE. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org