Create a Playlist for the Person You Used to Be

It’s important to do this alone
on a partially cloudy day when
nostalgia seeps its light
though blinds in thin
slices of bright demands.

Don’t overthink–add
songs with longing, songs
like time travel to desert
days before he burned
and buried his shredded
art in opaque glass jars.

You might be the art
or the glass. Most likely
you are the faded

Something Entirely Untenable in Light

The moment when dense fog piles onto itself
becoming thick with distortions and wishes, this moment
lends a temporary clarity about our connectedness.

I close my eyes and travel the space of my body
discovering you—precariously lodged inside
a decorative, meaningless pocket

an obstruction of space between
heart and mind. By the time
sunlight does its work, making
white vapors evaporate,
we are unraveled.

The Meaning Beneath the Meaning is Work

A former friend says the people
in our lives come and go as we need.

You are the receding tide
pulling permanence with you
as if you had a choice.

What’s in a word is
intention, intention, intention
and sometimes (you’ll agree)

No journaling, no candles,
no hot baths with sugar salts
no rituals to forget.

You may not remember
our absurdities lined up
on an imaginary shelf.

All of the souvenirs
we collected, I carry inside
taking out to behold
when the right song plays–
as if the careful study of object
is the work of the living
and the labor of unearthing lyric

The Song Save Me Plays While I Search

Autocorrect demands that I change the phrase
‘Imagine you to be’ to imagine youtube.
What would that show be about?

(Not humility)

The arc of story might rise to meet
a predator–the main character
driven to test his prowess on any
woman within range.

Too harsh?

Okay–the arc would be about
the middle of things like a marriage,
a life, a load of laundry, a recipe.

I flip on an electric mixer and remember
my mother’s wooden spoons–the moment
of sweet after the batter was smoothed.

Scratch everything! The apex arrives
at the moment my tongue laps
that sugared, splintered spoon.

Delete the Playlist for the Person You Are

because it only serves as a sliver of representation
and the lyrics were imagined as yours
when in fact they had nothing to do
except bear unaware witness
while you danced alone for hours
before awakening in a new room
to grab your own hand. Pull yourself
close—take the lead.

Jess Burnquist is the author of the chapbook You May Feel Your Way Past Me (Dancing Girl Press). Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Clackamas Review, Ms. Magazine/Ms.Muse, Rise Up Review, Poetica Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and more. She currently directs education and youth empowerment at a human rights anchored nonprofit in Southern California.