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TITANIC by Jess Dutschmann Š 2012 by Jess Dutschmann Cover by Jess Dutschmann chapbook by NAP

TITANIC Jess Dutschmann

There were stacks of clean white plates, and there still are, waiting to sit on clean linens, not knowing they have been lost. When they were born, they were baptized under breaths of fire and quick baths of water, so no heat or flame is unknown to them. Perhaps, though, fish, alive & dancing with life is the new story, the second long year of life. They live like God built days in grand epochs: first He said darkness like stone within earth and then fire, light, burning. Plates under sea untouched, cold slow death of underwater, not sand yet, still gleaming under coral. What place is set for the unloved things of the Earth when it scars and sinks into the darkness? Who will dote on garbage when everyone’s frozen away, even the fish having closed their glassy eyes to sleep eternal?

His eyes bulge in fear. She is kissing him and the moment is so final—her blonde curls echo her movement, diving into him, black bow bouncing behind her, funerary and obtuse. O, Will I be your Valentine? The card asks. With the aggression of Art Nouveau capitals and splayed hands of a boy’s first kiss— I think he’s going yes, yes I will.

The play has always been the thing! The play will never stop being the thing. Why would anybody even assume that the play wasn’t! The play is a hot loaf of bread in the morning, the crackle under your teeth but the play is also when that bread burns the heck out of your mouth and you got to drink ice water to stop it from burning. The play is mean and takes no responsibility for your actions! The play is what’s going down with the ship dancing, swinging Nearer My God to Thee—

Rolling your tongue across curry spice and fat and cream you sense you are somewhere in between worlds. The girl in the slim dress with the sweet black curl in her hair lets her foot run up your calf, pulling your trousers from where they should be, but your eyes are closed taking in lamb and sweet peas, and the way the splayed out and firm palm of a woman resembles the texture of perfectly cooked meat.

Hemingway already told us this story.

We are always dancing around clocks, even now. To be the man who made the planks that built your house would be enough for me, to use my pinky’s bones to whiten your sugar. I would not miss it. When the women left the ship they all were saved clutching teacups, two lumps, my hands a misshapen agony for all of their sweetness.

O my sweet little kitten what do we have for you today? Just the quiver of the pen against pad though nobody is listening. Kitty I know you hate water kitty I know but we have a long few hours ‘til sunrise and they will be spent in the ice I think or know that that is true for of course, you cannot talk or think and I, writer, pedal words into the air with inky radio waves that nothing and no one will hear.

But of course, what’s the point of sleeping when there’s so much to see outside. And everything smells like glue in here, nothing’s got that sea breeze, still smells all like England and fish and sunstink. It’s time for tea anyway, time to roll out from beneath the down, we’ve been sleeping on the feathers of angels I think, don’t you dear, such a folly this is! And yet how else is there to travel, to go this little distance of an ocean.

Paper is not cheap and has not been since the days of hieroglyph son and while it is less dear now I don’t want you wasting it on maths. On poetry. Write your mother a letter and seal it neat within an envelope and we’ll send it in New York, and she’ll smile on it for weeks and weeks, and she’ll be waiting when we get back—I do only wish the ship we were taking home was half as grand but this is a once in a lifetime offer and why aren’t you writing yet tell her you love her!

Epilogue I am the ship and the iceberg I am not but ghost in television flicker on movie screen I am every voice lost to ice I crow with the pain of a thousand men gone under wave and writhe under salt water like electricity

Jess Dutschmann is a writer from the NYC Metro area. She originally grew up in Bergen County, NJ, only to move into a log cabin in her teen years. She attended Ramapo College and earned a BA in Literature and a concentration in Creative Writing. Living only a stone’s throw from Manhattan, she has read poems and stories to audiences across the MidAtlantic. She is very thankful for MegaBus.


Prose poems by Jess Dutschmann.

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