Spring 2013, Volume 14

Poetry by Justin Jannise

Minor Adjustments

My eyes are fixed on a small, dark thing,
one of many, on blue and white tile.
Concealed knowledge is berried treasure.
Blake said, A fool sees not the same tree
that a wise man sees.
Blake wrote, You never know what is enough
unless you know what is more than enough.
My eyes remain fixed on the small, dark thing
that writhes on the linoleum.
One storm, and a tree gives up all its berries.
A fool said, the storm stripped the berries
from the unprotected trees.
My eyes come into focus on the black insect,
overturned and kicking,
on the blue and white linoleum.
One storm, and a tree gives up.
You never know what is enough
until you have had less than enough.
The black insect, overturned and kicking
its six legs, gives up momentarily.
A fool says what he thinks
the wise man sees.
You never know what a wise man sees
unless you are a wise man.
I see berries on the sidewalk.
I smell their rotting berry flesh.
I run over the berry carcasses and the sound
of them popping accrues until a dog barks.
The overturned insect is kicking only five
of its six legs.
Only a fool would wish to be a woman.
Only women are wise.
One storm, one of many—
you never—no, you always
know what is enough,
you just want more berries,
more sacrifices rotting on the pavement,
more dogs barking.
The bug manages to right itself!
The bug has set itself in motion.
A fool sees a tree with an X and thinks
buried treasure.
A wise man sees a tree with an X and begins
to write an elegy for the tree that is still alive.
One woman,
one of many you'll never know,
says you have more than enough berries
because none are needed.
The insect needs all six of its legs to move
and one of them is not moving.
The insect needs all six of its legs to move
and five of them are fools.





BIO: Justin Jannise is a poet originally from southeast Texas. He won the Albert Stanburrough Cook Prize for Poetry, and the Elmore A. Willets Prize for Fiction, from Yale University, in 2009. Formerly a resident of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, he currently lives in Iowa City, where he is attending the Iowa Writers Workshop.