POETRY SPOTLIGHT: Jerrod Schwarz
Who are you?
Jerrod is the co-founder of Driftwood Press. His work has appeared in HOOT, The Fem, and many others. He lives in Florida. He hates sweating. It’s an ongoing issue.
Where else can we find you?
Let’s Prepare His Body
by folding him like a sweater: cut off legs,
bend arms back into the pocket
between his shoulder blades, and cut off
his head. He never needed anything
other than his hands; skin holds other
molecules—his father’s butchered cow,
lichen on the wall of a bear cave, a vulture
standing in another vulture’s chest.
Our hands rub the appropriate spices
over his frame. We smear jasmine
for a car crash, we apply rosemary
for heart disease, we sprinkle cumin
because in this future
there is a wall. On your side he writes
this poem. On our side the world is split
seven billion times. On our side, we stretch
the spiced skin of his hands into a continent.
On our side, life forms find shelter on his knuckles, shelter
from the scars we leave behind: a burn
from the stove, dog bite, motorcycle crash.
On your side, he lets his fingernails grow
because a hoof and a talon and a claw
can choose pain.
On our side, there is no air between a body
and whatever touches a body.
A hurricane flooded the forest
behind the barn. At night, twenty inches
of stagnant water deepen into a black lake—
the possibility of something holding its breath.
I sneak out; rain boots, a jacket, my first pocket knife.
The new gravity of muddy water
forces me into slow motion—mosquitoes
hovering around their eggs, tree bark
pruning in the soil soup.
My left boot sinks too far in; stuck, barefoot now.
The sludge reacts to my skin—wet dirt glowing
under my souls, hardening into a mouth.
The sunken halo’s tongue slurps at my toenails
and murmurs through bubbles:
no one owns me…the fence is floating…
I leave behind the dirt’s smiles instead of footprints.
In the barn, I look down at my licked-clean feet;
the word PROPERTY scratched into my heel
with peat teeth.
In the dark, no one knows I’m missing;
Dad sleeps in his bed, his room, his
house, on the dry ground, on the roots
of trees no one planted.
If it weren’t for the headlights,
the trees would become hands:
midnight fingers curling
onto the highway: breaking
the car window: raking my chest
with sign language; “This is what
I straddle the left lane, grooved shoulder
shaking tears down my face: I want
options again: I have been driving
the old route between Mom’s house
and Dad’s house: his old convertible
had options: Wind, rain, bugs, litter
from an overhanging bridge.
I roll down the windows and turn
my lights off: tree branches
choke me: trash in the cup-holder
becomes a gag in my mouth:
a thousand moths eat my clothes
and beat their wings into a language
I want to believe:
“You don’t know
what death is, pain
means your blood
is hot and everyone’s
blood is hot forever.”