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(accompanied by pushpins and balloons) Russell Jaffe

The Red Ceilings Press

MMXII [rcp 42]

(accompanied by pushpins and balloons) Russell Jaffe

Please climb aboard the love story arc. That is meant to be sung. A variant. A keepsake of.

This is a good one, thanks, thanks for this.

I’m always in the market for a vulnerable audience.


Hello, your psychic test is to say

“this is a condition” until it becomes as such. We leave colorful journals tucked into the rubble of our future empires. I am looking for more excuses to use the title “God Emperor.” Call me boss man. But not Big Boss Man.

I’m meditating right now. My spine is a one-note piano. My fingers are little plugs. I love you, sockets. You make electrical hums like industries. My shoes are accordions. We should go on tour.

Please don’t leave me. Things are going to be different.

The audience will be missing me like I am missing you missing me.

I wanted to write about how we were built for each other and we remove our pieces and build other things. But I ended up watching an episode of How It’s Made about corndogs and microprocessors.

If this is all real, I’d like updating Facebook to be more like looking at flowers.

I’m corndoggin’ you tonight, bro.

If you’re in a relationship and you really love that person, it’s ok to tell them they have wings. Wings mean a lot to people.

I heard a girl at Fair Grounds say, in a very serious voice, “I’m very picky about what my Facebook status updates are. I won’t just post, like, this is what I had for dinner.”

When I went on vacation, I was missing you. I wish you would say we will always be together and always be loving each other and we’ll always have fun. But you don’t. That’s why you’re like the whole universe and I’m like a person. I peel at this condition by repeating, “I don’t know,” over and over. Now I’m back to being a person.

My spirit animal is a claw machine because of the grabbing.

Sometimes I ask the claw machine at K Mart about getting older.

FUN FACT: Can you share a fun fact with me I can use for a fun fact?

I believe the earnestly in your audience voice when you say you accidentally watched the last few SNLs.

I’m working on a list of new extreme sports. Here it is so far: -When you’re sitting on the toilet, try to drool into the space between your crotch and the edge of the bowl.

I want my mind to reach a Bieber state, but without the music or singing or dancing.

I am trying to figure out my role in historical preservation. There should be something funny about that.

I played X-Com for Playstation and drank whipped cream flavored vodka all day. That could maybe be a poem.


This poem is for all the dead homies.


This poem is just dripping, just dripping with thick, heavy symbolism, oh man just absolutely soaked, come on.

Here’s a line about sailing a steel ship through a sea of magnetic tape and the moon is the huge face of a child and the child starts blowing up a balloon and it causes a terrible electrical storm. I chew concrete. I pop wool balloons. There’s a truthful sadness in this poem I think you’ll find refreshing.


Sometimes I think feelings only exist because nature wanted to give us a heads up on what plants we can and can’t eat.

This poem’s for all the dead zonies.

I’m writing my manuscript on chicken skin. I’m a vegetarian. The tentative title is death and life and eggs.

What everyone at school has in common is that they can talk. Write this down. My friend keeps every sentence his son writes. A rubix cube is still a cube. My friend’s son Adam wrote this: “I have been to a pond. I don’t have very much luck. I don’t want to drop out of school. I rub my arm when it hurts. I know how to shut my door”.

When I go to Ellis Island, I want my new American name to be Cyber Core, after the Turbo Grafix game. But I’m not sure what Ellis Island’s role is anymore and I don’t have internet access.

I chopped a pile of wood into winter. The road was swaths of white splinters.


Prepare yourself for sudden and ethnographic mythmaking. I’m about to scare you bad. What. Uh. I’m more into what watching infomercials at 4 am signifies than actually doing it.


After I bought the green tea from the fridge at Capana I really had to pee over and over. It always does that to me but I always keep drinking it. They have good pizza there. When I did dishes, the hot water made the cheese become an angel.

I identify more with the reverse, miniature spike pit than the traditional spike pit. I got so worked up explaining this that I had to go home and rest.

This is the emotionally jarring part of the poem.


I don’t want to answer anything. No more definitive statements.

Me: I’m going to write really short stories. You, the audience: Was that one of them? Us: High five.

A friend asked about Real Dolls and if a person sitting around talking to them was crazy. Of course it is, we all said. Then they asked if it’s just as crazy if the Real Doll is replaced with a sentient robot. Of course not. That’s a stupid question. Why would you ask me that. When I did dishes, I said, “I’m good at writing songs. I was humming something good I made up but I forgot it. And this is my clattering, wet Babylon.” Every tattoo is a temporary tattoo. Something about permanence. You’re every nail and spike I ever pushed into myself. Yee-haw, boy. Earn it. Uh. Na na na NA.

You said, “It’s the pentatonic scale.” “What is that,” I said. “It’s when you make the string vibrate by…you vibrate it a certain way. When you hit in the middle, you can cause it to vibrate twice but at the same pitch, so it gets that panging high pitch sound.” “Maybe,” I said, “we should order pizza,” I said. I am a real surrealist with cloud hair.


I am what ground you left me. Plot my lines. Something about cartography and bodies. It’s a strange victory we’ve won here. I am the burnt sugar cotton candy dreams of sure, sure, I don’t have time today. But maybe tomorrow when I get off work.

At an open mic night at The Summit there was a comedian talking about how he was fucking this new girl but she was small, and how fucking her was like putting a coke can in a quarter sized hole. He said fucking a lot and he smiled a lot and turned back and forth. It made me feel really uncomfortable. I was thinking, I hate you, you’re disgusting, I think this is pathetic. You’re standing there in a little red baseball hat and you have a hoodie on, you’re pathetic. Look at your shitty little smile when you talk. But now when I think about it, I really want to be like, yeah, sure, you tell me, you’re funny, man. I appreciate your life, I appreciate what you did there. Here’s a line about mortality. Mortar rounds. The moribund. My ex-girlfriend is learning to play the ukulele.


I was thinking about saying to you that life is better with you and an adventure with you. Or worth it with you. And just then it was this scene in Real Steel where the underdog robot punches the evil champion robot. And it looked like I was crying at the robot punching scene in Real Steel.

Me: Here’s something. You: WOW. Explain yourself here.

There’s nothing more desperate than the last balloon. Maybe that’s not the right word.

(you: catch the last balloon before it hits the ceiling and pops)

Russell Jaffe Lives in Iowa City, USA and is the editor of Strange Cage, a handmade poetry chapbook press. His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Shampoo, La Petite Zine, Red Lightbulbs, and others. He collects 8-tracks.

Thanks to John Engelbrecht, with whom I collaborated when this was performed at Strange Cage: Collaborations at Public Space One in Iowa City. The POPs in this poem correspond to when John let helium balloons float into a pushpin ceiling spike pit we built.

The Red Ceilings Press

MMXII [rcp 42]

(accompanied by pushpins & balloons)  

by Russell Jaffe