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Self-Portrait As Jug of Corn Whiskey

White and stewed on the liquor of grief. Sour mash
my liver and distill it down to 160 proof. Maize turned
maze. Moon turned shine. A black sign with red
letters looming over the fields: Hell Is Real. Fiddle
a reel on that cornstalk violin. Braid husks into
poppets. Dusk in Illinois, purple sky aged in a barrel
of stars, fish tails and rabbit ears of flame. It burns
on the way down. John Law’s on my tail. My curves,
man. Handle me and suck my bottle neck, my jug

Some time in New Mexico, in a dirt-floor house, my
grandfather is four years old, shaking scorpions
from his boots.

Some time in Michigan, my great-grandfather wishes
on baseballs, nails fish heads to the barn walls
to ensure a good harvest.

Every year, here, another poet jades themselves
with opiates. Another teenager, stoned on recklessness,
throws themselves into the hungry lake. A teenage
boy gets sinking drunk and never comes back
from the catfish bottom of the flooded quarry. A
teenage girl drives lightning-speed with the windows
down and the pop songs loud and the wind blows
her tangled hair over her eyes and she crashes.


Every year, here, someone has a romance with
the nighttime fields, with the moon high above. Walks
between the rows of corn and disappears. Unseams
themselves, is swallowed whole and never comes back.


And here I am, out standing in my field. All flask
and heat. Surrounded by all this white light. Just
waiting for someone to burn my stillhouse down. The
corn spiders, gilded silver-faces, crawl over me. The
spinnerets on their yellow-black abdomens zigzag
silk into bugcatcher. I stand stalk-still. Let them
cobweb my mouth, my neck. Let them bite
my illegal fingertips. I am here. I watch the crows

with my button eyes. Drunk on my own grief. Hell is
real, and I am praying for rain.


Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, & small press owner. Her words have recently appeared or are forthcoming in OcculumSpider MirrorMemoir Mixtapes, Ghost City Review, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, & others. She collects souvenir pennies & stick & poke tattoos, & is perpetually nostalgic, melancholy, & restless. You can find her website at, or find her on Tumblr, Twitter, & Instagram @rustbeltjessie

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