Excerpts from Megin Jiménez’s poetry manuscript, Lone Stories, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
This was in the time that our brief reign over time and space was nearly obliterated by the miniature black holes born of a scientific experiment on the Franco-Swiss border. As the Mayan calendar had predicted, however, the miniature black holes merely caused a feeling of irreparable loss in the celestial bodies (mostly of beautiful boys and exalted, pale women) they touched. It was the time of the Rule of the Unborn. Some of us painted our faces, some of us did not. None of this did much to change anyone’s pigmentation, or bring any mammal back to life. The Unborn remained impervious to these facts, as they had not yet seen the light of day.
The Unborn knew this: We needed a beauty queen shooting wolves from a plane. We needed a cowboy in the house. We needed blue eyes hatched in cornfield silos. We needed the destruction that can only come from victory. We needed the hyphenated snap of Northamerican efficiency sounding universal in throats galore.
You’re A Grand Old Flag
The market has its ups and downs, but it’s always out of fruit. Though we were late to a press conference that would change the world, we caught another one at 4 o’clock. At this point, the audience couldn’t tell if it was a marriage proposal or a confession of betrayal. Everything would become clear when the list of the top 10 humans was released, rivaling the list of the earth’s top 100 prehistoric bacteria, and real men’s top 10 hard-ons. Fetal reductions were passé, the Glitter was all Little Princess tees and breastmilk now. Not-for-profit: REDISTRIBUTION OF THE WORLD’S FAT. Whistling in the pollution, we knew he had been elected or appointed by his red suit and blue tie. We got a warm, corporate feeling from the mother of us all. Three hundred and sixteen people were reported dead the next day, none of them from our fatherland. Though this was terrifying and uncomfortable, we knew that there was a hero in it somewhere—handsome in the movie—and were finally able to sleep.
Tale from the Underground Economy
I’m nobody. My blood is worth next-to-nothing. I can barely get past the doorman. But I’m the one who gets her the stuff she can’t buy. She lives above the weather, above the economy, in the penthouse. The light streams through her glass walls. I give it to her on the couch, once a week. What the private island, the name-dropped, the animal pelts, the charitable foundation can’t give her. Rattling uptown underground for an hour, watching some poor old man eat lo mein out of a Styrofoam container, stinking up the whole car, I put it all together for her. Hawking the one thing I have left of my own, my only piece of privacy. Not my body, my high-IQ eggs, my “skill-set.”
She can’t get enough of the stuff. She insists I put my feet up. She offers me some tissues and a little bottle of Evian. Then I cough up the dreams, the insides of my eyelids. She cooks them up on a silver spoon, it’s fucking chocolate mousse for her. She takes her time. Licks the spoon. Afterwards, I can’t look at anyone—her cohorts—on the elevator, it’s 40 flights down. And every week I ask myself, is this what life is, corporate art and selling off the newborn with teeth, airplanes diving into silver buildings, the giant carp twisting for its last breath in my hands?
How could a flood be destroying anything when there are heart-shaped chocolate boxes to be opened with delight? Reclining chairs, mechanical pencils and their tiny replacement erasers, light bulbs of varying wattage, their filigree coils sheltered in frosted glass. Charm bracelets would not exist in a climate of disaster, nor would there be such long-lasting paper money, graced with engravings of our nation’s heroes. Seven thousand varieties of apples, personalized birthday cakes, time-released sleeping pills. What could be made of a word like “refugee” when to work is to christen shades of lipstick in a tall building every day (First Love Pink, Caramel Glacé). There could not possibly be an end to many-colored Christmas lights, road trips across the continent, a summer house on the shore. Food is nothing less than a branch of philosophy when encyclopedia sets, lovingly printed in the era of paper, are left out with the recycling. If it gets too warm, there is rice paper with which to powder your nose, hairpins with rhinestones on their fine ends. Dream journals, the perfect macchiato. Mechanical escalators and fly swatters. Historical preservation societies. Guidebooks to a long and satisfying sex life.[Originally published in The Inquisitive Eater]
I signed my name “Human Resource” when I wrote out a check to my rapist yesterday. I forgot all of my settings. This was the second time this time it happened. I had changed my mind about the lipstick when I stepped off the bus, wiped it off mid-sidewalk, the tissue with that bloody look—people couldn’t help but watch. We all know a boss deep in us, we were always little tyrants, and we want to see it acted out, then put in a supply drawer, a desk organizer. At least this is what I think. Two weeks of paid time off did nothing for my bottom line. My seams are still showing. Despite the humanitarian fictions I had brought along, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the time I wasn’t paid to be on. My template hadn’t accounted for the line of bottoms in brightly colored swimwear along the shore. And then when I came inbox, at the turn of the key, there were only that many more voices in the mail, bursting out with so many Chinese gift catalogues. The world full of gifts, my gifts to the world. I meant to follow up on the proposal to follow through on following one’s heart, but had to wrap up the project under wraps, an untitled document.[Originally published in La Petite Zine]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megin Jiménez was born in Mérida, Venezuela and grew up in Denver. Her work has appeared in Barrow Street, Denver Quarterly, La Petite Zine, LIT, NOO Journal, and Sentence, among other journals. She is a graduate of The New School Writing Program and co-hosted Monday Night Poetry at KGB Bar for many years. She works as a translator and lives in Queens.
ABOUT THE MANUSCRIPT
Experiencing the pull of a trajectory, inherent in sentences, in paragraphs, while also writing against the imposition of beginning-middle-end led me to ask: are we soul-sick with stories, overdosed, overfed? What is a story, anyway? The media tells stories, brands tell stories. Some of the poems question the traps inherent in the mythologization that begins with news media account of a real happening, the burnishing and hero-making we turn to for comfort, the lure of snappy ad copy. What are they attempting to hide, or to smooth over?
In other poems/texts the prose requires more sprawl, a messiness that spreads out of the paragraph, sentences requiring space around them. This happens when the questions concern living between two languages, two cultures, two genders, or two selves, as in the self of before an event (womanhood, exile, colonization, sex, 9/11, heartbreak, etc.) and the self of after.