Questions for a Waning Gibbous


What was the first word ever spoken?  Can darkness comprehend light?  What voices come out of the wilderness?  Do we ever stop searching for buried treasure?  Would you rather be a hawk or a magpie?


Was dancing invented to keep us from breaking?  And singing to make us love rain?  What music has pierced you to the root?  What art has bathed your veins in liquor?  Where would your holy pilgrimage take you?


Will spring be absolved of provoking unrest?  Will hyacinths grow in this stony rubbish? Do you, like Tiresias, throb between two lives?  Can we move through thunder into peace?


Did you forget we can ripen in any season?  And eyelashes can be wet just from rain?  Is spring light through honey?  Or just light?  Or just the sound of lungs waking and remembering air?


*Note: The first three sections adapt text from The Book of John 1:1-1:23, The Canterbury Tales Prologue, and The Waste Land.


Fragments of a Shredded Screenplay



blood orange, frenzy yellow
a burn of dust
rising in a swarm,
nose and eyes invaded,
a scene defined
by dreaming of rivers.




Cold slap
grey-eyed penetrating
wavering watery sweet
in its chill, in mouth,
in lungs that belong
to the current now,
music to drown by,
a rush defined
by dreaming of warmth.



As a child I blew dandelions

.                         into my mother’s garden.

I lay in the grass to watch

.                         as the sky turned colors, learned

stratus, cirrus, cumulonimbus.

                      Grounded, afraid light

in the clouds was as close

                       as I could get

to aurora borealis of prism-cold north

                        where everything to lie on

tastes like ice & the gods

.                         disguise themselves as polar bears.

But I was allergic

.                          to grass, broke

into dots that itched like ant bites

                       & Mom took pictures of my knees.

Accomplice to the heat

.                         in our little house,

I kept escaping into the yard.

                        I drew the sky

when it was white, it was hard

                       to tell the edges.

I ate the pansies in the garden:

                       I knew they were non-toxic

like Crayolas.  Mom thought it was a rabbit

.                         but it wasn’t.

The week I discovered

                       the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I stayed inside every day to watch

                       & Mom bought me a milkshake

to sip—vanilla cloud through a straw—

.                         for being good.



We licked the juices off our fingers

                        when we picked blackberries.

As we brambled, she lied

                       about giving head on a cruise ship,

about the boy’s father walking in & saying

                        good job son.  She said

it’s like sucking on a lollipop

                        or a thumb.

But in high school we mistook each other’s words

                       half on purpose, got in fights.

She heard me say her tube top

.                         was ugly. I heard her say hell

is where Christians go.

                       But I knew something was true

when she didn’t want it leaked.

                         She kept quiet when she stopped eating,

started smoking.

.                          Ash stains on her clothes

she said were from leaning on a tree.

                        At lunch we formed a clot of twelve girls

each trying to bring the best

                          homemade brownies & tips

for frizzy hair.

                       If one broke an ankle, another dyed her hair

Gwen Stefani-pink.

                        We didn’t know many boys

whose attention was worth getting.

                        She kept a mental list of our friends

in order of attractiveness

                         & ranked herself last.

Walking home from school,

.                          she told me (in confidence)

she could only be attracted to a girl

                       if she knew her well, if

she trusted her.  I thought

                       she may have meant

Gina from science class.  I thought

.                           she may have meant me.


Jessica Beyer is a writer and educator from Baltimore, MD. Her poems have been published in The Adroit Journal, decomP, TIMBER, Split Rock Review, and other journals and anthologies. She has a MFA in Poetry from New York University and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Emory University. She is looking for a publisher for her first poetry collection Questions for a Damaged Goddess and working on a second collection and a novel.

When not writing or working, Jessica can be found waterskiing, SCUBA diving, and giving in to wanderlust whenever possible. She most recently traveled to New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand, and is now one (Antarctica) away from getting continent bingo.

You can find her at and on Twitter @JessicaHBeyer.