Category Archives: 2020

SHAWNTE ORION & JIA OAK BAKER.February 2020


SHAWNTE ORION & JIA OAK BAKER

Photo by Jeff Sirkin


 

 

 

 

 


 

Midnight on Asphalt

 

MIDNIGHT ON ASPHALT

Your voice is the potential of breath.

Fogged whispers rise                but it’s still cold

underneath the umbrella.

Your diary shivers.

Let’s consummate the cliché

& wear matching secrets.

When we stop speaking              I hear constellations

mark the passing of night.

Listen to all those stars

scrape across the slate of sky

like polished fingernails

down a chalk

board horizon.

 

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Factors of Wednesday

 

FACTORS OF WEDNESDAY

We divide the capacity of imagination

into factors of Wednesday.

You remind me of someone

I’ve never met.

There is a mythology of scissors.

The secret is an edge

that doesn’t look

like it’s been cut.

Both of us

doubt that we have

anything in common.

 

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Self-Portrait as 90s Album Covers

 

SELF-PORTRAIT AS 90s ALBUM COVERS

Blue screen missing special effects

brick wall wearing thrift

store shadow cast by 1960s-era LSD

trash pageant tiara of thorns

cosmetic scabs too varnished to heal

bark muzzled at full speed

dirt became mud on the tongue

teeth gnashed through fence wire

swallowed silence of protest engulfed in flames

imaginary Siamese friend

tossed a washing machine into the shirt

last splash in the puddle’s reflection

rain hung me over the sky

by my Doc Martens

dive test dummy surfaced too soon

gasping for neon body-painted blacklight sex

photobooth exhibitionism armed with nothing

more than a dangling indie-label penis

but determined to save the corporate

dollar from drowning.

 

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Fence Picket White

 

FENCE PICKET WHITE

~for and after Gregory Crewdson

 

Pickets splintered on the asphalt / neighbors you haven’t seen

since you stopped answering the door / watering their suspicions

imagination is always in pre-production / find the lightswitch

find the unseizable moment between moments / that muted

instant when your life suddenly / made sense in the detached

intimacy of witness statements / the wind chime bites its tongue

listen for the disquiet beneath roses / obsessions are inverted

bluer than velvet / listen for the nondescript suburban

vernacular beneath floorboards / the fluorescence of desperation

between sleep and the dream / brief encounters with the forensics of mystery

don’t wait for second responders / like you waited for dad to return

from the bar with that elusive gallon of milk / like you waited

for mom’s hair and smile / to return from the oncologist’s office

don’t wait for the world to stop spinning / the lightswitch extinguished the kitchen lamp

so you can’t pretend this is only a dream / emptied of aimless familiarity

a choreography of light and psychosis / against the perfect façade

escape is under construction / your absence is present is almost nothing

you tried but couldn’t / get away from yourself

where the streets are paved with gossip

 

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Forever Like The Stamp On Your Wrist

 

FOREVER LIKE THE STAMP ON YOUR WRIST

eighteen months of hand drawn flyers and suddenly

everyone knows the words

but it’s August in Phoenix

so nobody sings along

because air conditioning

never opens for my friend’s band

they play three and a half songs

before the cops show up

ten dollars in advance

gentrification at the door

 

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SHAWNTE ORION.poet/poseur

Shawnte OrionShawnte Orion attended Paradise Valley Community College for one day. He is the author of two recent collections of poetry: The Existentialist Cookbook (NYQBooks) and Faithful as the Ground (Five Oaks Press). The above poems and images are from Gravity & Spectacle, the upcoming collaboration with photographer Jia Oak Baker for Tolsun Books (April 2020). His poems appear in The Threepenny Review, Barrelhouse, New York Quarterly, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. He is an editor for Rinky Dink Press and he has performed in bookstores, bars, universities, hair salons, museums, and laundromats. He is modeling a mask that was created by Phoenix artist J.J. Horner.

 

 


JIA OAK BAKER.photographer

Jia Oak BakerJia Oak Baker’s poetry chapbooks include Crash Landing in the Plaza of an Unknown City (Dancing Girl Press) and Well Enough to Travel (Five Oaks Press). Her photography has appeared in *82 Review, Lime Hawk, Shrew, Rascal, Thimble Literary Magazine, Stirring: A Literary Collection, and elsewhere. Gravity & Spectacle, a collection of photographs and poems in collaboration with Shawnte Orion, is forthcoming with Tolsun Books in 2020. Jia is the recipient of an artist grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and has been awarded residencies from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation and Hedgebrook. To view additional photographs, visit Instagram @violetsky29.

 

To download a printable PDF version of this page, click here.

 

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February 2020.SHAWNTE ORION & JIA OAK BAKER