Five Poems by Jessica Laser

COMPANY EDITIONS is an independent publisher of poetry and visual art. The journal, Company, was founded in 2013 and is published three or four times per year. We will also be publishing chapbooks beginning in late 2016. Company Editions is based in Athens, GA, Iowa City, IA, and Cambridge, MA. You can contact the editors by emailing





Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh


For it was the end we were looking for and not of the French.

We wanted to make the end most pleasing

To onlookers bulging (green from their minds).

Accused by a bishop laden with offenses

Of immutability, I spread the thing out you don’t have

In your hands yet. So what, my beloved love. Who you give

In orders offense to. . .What dies before me I let rest.


With a dish on my breast, nickel-plated

And others I left blank for seconds

I accept the sum magnitude of this—

Two men, exiles each, come home from

The same country (abroad) only to find

That they keeping

Up the looks of emissaries

Pause to be at home

As spies in their own land.

The image required

Foraging here, not hanging there,

An heir (or two), a mountain view, and maintaining

The tenses as foreign gold you created of theirs.


And now this honeyed individual 

Hides in the sun as you dry your true identity

Long with that patience just as wet when you ask

Your reflection to convey your mind

(Not my story) to the water

“I saw you chase them down”

“You saw me” “They ran” “We...”

Speaking in fast French (past tense)

To your countryman, a broken tongue rather

Than our language, as after a white man, even in private,

Assimilation you sought, because your future survived

The kind all undergo

After great grief

Back into the culture

That dreams its death in studded denim

Stretched tight over the thigh of a girl

It will never touch, who dreams culture

Could touch her.



For the beautiful I opted out one evening

To see a street enraged in quiet

And what bore me never I thought to bear

But like an animal caged and rampant

I lifted life from its particular screen

And found the etchings marked decay

No sense of night my dwelling integrated

For it was upon these years I lay


And with great charm they bedded me as earth may bed in canyons

And if the word is not so big, enough to catch the sound

Nor open to its net the waving grain

Where I stand less faint—like a prison’s grass—than grass

Resown I am begotten wicked

To will what has been seen once over

To hay in pleasant nearness to the corn

Or to imagine, once atop these boards, the sea

My weight the blunder of my passion

Until the planet being formal ropes in the world



The bulletproof vest should exist

In the bleary eyes of those who slept

As in your own house a voyeur

Shows you how to take it off

Convincing the whisper of steams to rise

From medieval mesh melted down to the armor

I think of as beauty, its arm around my mind.

I would take an immaculate climb

Over the ridges to see you

But the ridges are long

And we drove to their song

When down that coast-resembling road

We migrated south with the circus party

And laughed without nets.





I tried to chase the phantom.
I stood in it. I recognized a deficit
The problem located
In me or others
But in that the phantom
Could not be addressed
I reached out and it
Addressed itself to me.
Life is a process
A pretty glow from a lamp
A cloud glowers over
And troubles the phantom
Within that assumption.
So me I couldn't say what I received.
I was relieved. That was the phantom
And I the recipient
Could not be addressed but to it.



You need not fear what peace you keep
And weak what up against it comes
You come against the peace you seek
With keeping. Never fear.
The clothes on the line

Blow ghosts you unravel by their use.


This muddy spring clots with bits

Of stoneware ground beneath the fog
That spits and swirls your own.
Then cast clay cracks

A nearer sun

Through clouds than we thought.


You talk with a bit when you hold in your mouth
What's real or not

In subliminal autumn.
Then the tree rejects the leaves
And currents bear them each a load
To who can afford so high a treble.


We scan the naked bloated shore
With yellow eyes we carve along its span 
And double the letter pleased by its efface

And doubt the latter placed by its effect 
Which stamps the beauty from all sounds

And makes of its carrier a neck to ring 


The parcel bag around and sue.

I carried food a long way from there
And sat beside the barrier as it rained
A fog so soft and clear

I thought the earth a mirror
And then it broke.



Jessica Laser's poems can be found in Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Lana Turner, Petri Press, Prelude, and elsewhere. She is the author of two chapbooks: Assumed Knowledge and the Knowledge Assumed from Experience (Catenary Press, 2015) and He That Feareth Every Grass Must Not Piss in a Meadow (paradigm press, 2016). She teaches at The New School.