Selections from Jess Jordan’s chapbook, “Senioritis”

The cover to Jess Jordan's chapbook, "Senioritis"
The cover to Jess Jordan’s chapbook, “Senioritis”

“Jessica Jordan’s poetry explores the dark nature of humanity, as well as the commonality between human instinct and animal instinct. Jordan navigates through several diverse topics rotating around the popular topics humanity discusses, including the existence of god or gods, life in a small town, zombies, and the complex meaning of tattoos.

Jordan exposes the undertones of humanity while crafting beautiful images through the use of the senses, as in her poem ‘June 12, 2010.’ Jordan’s poem is written in the form of a cento, in which Jordan stitches together lines from other writers to show the spectrum of human cruelty as the poem discusses rape and the violation of such a horrendous act.

‘I did not die – the bile of desolation in every pore.’ These closing lines of ‘June 12, 2010’ shows the violation and despair that is left in the wake of abuse, leaving the reader, like the speaker, with the knowledge of violation but with the simple fact that the speaker of the poem did not die. Jordan makes apparent the desolation the speaker is feeling by saying, ‘A piece of burned meat wears my clothes, speaks in my voice.’ This is a striking image that shows the reader the complete despair the speaker is feeling, but also this cold detachment of being ‘burned meat.’

Jordan beautifully crafts a poem that discusses a subject that is all too often not discussed. Jordan also sutures lines from different writers to showcase the violation of rape but also discusses other types of abuse. One line in particular, ‘I see – the businessmen who hit their wives, and the men who are tender fathers,’ speaks to the spectrum of physical abuse.

Jordan’s poem ‘Ink Master’ speaks to the idea of beauty through pain, but also beauty as pain. In ‘Ink Master,’ she writes, ‘Your eyes brush the room painted burnt orange and your irises focus, un-focus like a telescope.’ Jordan allows the reader to feel the pain the speaker is feeling through the image of the eyes coming in and out of focus like a telescope, but also allows the eyes to be a brush to paint the room, showing the beauty both in and as pain.

‘Ink Master’ is written in the specific form bouts-rimes. The format and end rhymes in ‘Ink Master’ create the flow of the Tattoo Artist’s needle as the ink is injected into the skin to create the tattoo:

‘Stinging, like your finger being sliced open by an envelope.
Your eyes brush the room painted burnt orange
and your irises focus, un-focus like a telescope.
ars gratia artis; the best way to describe the singed’

Each line is indented from the last line, producing the effect of the needle as it moves across your skin. ‘Ink Master’ is showcases the idea of beauty through pain and as pain, which Jordan does beautifully in the last couplet, ‘The slowly bruising forearm is anything but photogenic, with small spots of blood swelling up like pomegranate.’ Jordan shows beauty in the bruising and bleeding arm by comparing it to a pomegranate, thus creating a tension between the bleeding arm and the pomegranate, the pain and the beauty.

Jordan’s poetry navigates the reader through the landscape of human cruelty but also exposes the beauty even in pain. With poems that are full of complexities and tension, which allows the imagery Jordan crafts to be that much more pronounced the reader maneuvers through popular topics that humanity both loves to discuss and the topics that humanity wishes to hide. Jordan is a strong writer that captivates the attention of an audience with just one line.”

— Sabrina Parr, JFR Poetry Editor

The following three poems were hand-picked by Jess Jordan, showcasing the talent found in her recent chapbook, Senioritis.

Imitation of “Dear Petrarch” by Cate Marvin

The hungry growl of naïve and oblivious zombies…
Much so like hungry wolves, much so like camouflage.
If our eyes were to unfold the pupils dilate charcoal, and the dilation holds a ghost.

If such a thing exists show me and my
safe house will unbar itself to you. If my
eyes unfold they will shrink, plainly in that

they reflect sunrays. In regards to methods you push,
fleeing, the stench of rotting corpses –
the empty graves black holes, so everyone catches
themselves restrained, bodies broken.

Like the concrete street. The world knows it. Were I breathing during your
age, the soles of my boots wouldn’t be worn
to the sock. It comes full circle to surviving –
the human, the reanimated flesh.
Both have open sores.

trash slavery

Erickson the detective listened to his tales with a wooden face.

The raccoon dug through the trash with his glitter lacquered nails.

You see the split open black Glad garbage bag on the pavement,
You hear the scritch scruff of the critter plundering the junk,
You smell the soiled Pamper bottoms the masked rodent pulled out,
You taste the acidic bile in your esophagus,
You touch the familiar seam in the sleeve of your forest green sweater.

Mikey stood in the bitter cold October of Berwyn,

The raccoon’s orange sparkly lacquered nails dug through the shit.

You wonder how long it takes for decay to set into any one individual,

can the dead take snapchats in their graves?

They say drinking fresh water will keep you well,
Das Auge sieht weit, de Verstand noch weiter.

You want to return to your down-feather comforter,

which you could be enveloped in within the hour.

The silver trash bin was a guardian angel,

you float over to the shiny can and crook of the night,

the absolute tin box of trash slavery.

You drift closer and see the squiggly steel outline from which is being plundered,

and the lid sits up straight like an underage kid in a bar.

You realize that the shimmering drum is a grave.

Elegy in Forest Green

Doc’s bar, Green Line,
Scratch Kitchen, soccer field,

steak tacos or ferrara pan,
grass stains on my boyfriend’s

hands, grass stains
in the washer’s water,

Bruce Springstein’s
“running wild in the streets”

blasting from car radios of
our Ford cars and Pintos.

“Big city access,
small town charm”: Forest Park,

arms out rolled down windows,
like branches on the old trees.

Jess Jordan
Jess Jordan

Jess Jordan is a recent Lewis graduate. Having obtained her BA in Literature and Language with a minor in Spanish, she hopes to soon break into the publishing industry. Currently working with children and at a local bar, she enjoys her down-time with reading, eating, binge-watching Netflix, and traveling.


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