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mouth partially open, awaiting (ars poetica)

by Jax NTP

undesirable flashbacks mid-morning walk, why did i wait so long

to leave if i already knew how to find my own center of gravity?

a poem sits out, room-temp, unread, longing for deep understanding

of tension and release, a dance between old words, how long before it rots there’s no exact time of death, just a mushrooming of staleness, sore legs

in rice paddy fields, there are two types of worries: one that wraps you

unassumingly with the delicate veins of gooseberries; one is self inflicted

some sort of leftover consciousness that streams around an image

a crease on her face, the flare of her nostrils, cursive on a wet paper bag

since the art of war states that winning without a fight is the best way

how do you achieve a full body completion when the sky is crying spring

master the art of needle therapy, memories of wind is different with age

unctuousness, until

by Jax NTP

unctuousness, until — i:


if the first taste acclimates the palate, my anxiety is a clean slice of fatty tuna,

a center-fuse of unsorted childhood fears. a beginner’s bite, on a sushi date,

is it rude to use my fingers? clumsy thumbs and forefingers flirt with flesh

the way first lines of poetry used to flirt with my mind. if the right ratio

of false confidence feels like the right amount of sexy caramelization

and butteriness, then where is the flick of a fat tongue to swipe the fork

clean? does the lack of self esteem and generalized anxiety sting less with age?

a drop of bergamont or was it kumquat oil for rejuvenation is not enough

to wet my palate to rediscover the sharp brine of pre-teen years

unctuousness, until — ii:


since the second taste establishes a foundation, let that spicy basil heat linger

everyone is in a rush to change their mindsets, yeast dough rise as tools to guide

practices and discourses disturb organic desires low light pressure to increase fish

stock since omissions of truth are louder than detailed descriptions of any lived

experiences stillborn poems are braids tight claws out lungs ignite words soaked

in egg yolks deep fried until they are desirable golden or devoid of meaning


unctuousness, until — iii:


when the third taste allows you to make a decision, do you ever fancy

to pick a scab in the middle of a business meeting for fun or does it hurt

to suppress the urge? retreat is tricky: as a noun, it means refuge or haven,

but as a verb, it means to run away from the uncanniness of what’s so familiar

know when to use your herbs as artillery as endings are trailing sunsets

themselves are not beautiful, but a reminder of coral bone broth from the sea

an architecture of sadness. let this choice be your anti-muse, purple skinned

and tear shaped: banana blossoms are fleshy fruit clusters, a pale substitute for fish

what’s another word for palatable anticlimactic poems encircle the esophagus

since muteness is not just a diagnosis, but a large landing pad and tasty nectar

closure is just another story we are done telling, this is a departure from eight of cups.

eau de nil velvet and oyster tones, when will you just allow yourself to ask for it?


unctuousness, until — iv:


learn how to poke a hole in the timeline to create a novel defense

umami umami let it bitter because seeing the fragmentation of sadness

is worse than seeing the entire thing an unripe pineapple unprocessed

goods are better but if not processing is my new process then yes stagnancy

does create a form in the cushion seat sit poised to pivot between pleasure

and pain stop enzyme reactions to lock in flavors but blanching only removes

some surface dirt and microorganism what is the temperature of a poem

left out too long foxglove in varying degrees of oxidation the word jicama

is Peruvian for ground apple, a malleable vehicle, a cross between potato and pear

perhaps, water chestnuts are the dull fangs of past aches, guilt is more astringent

than monkey picked oolong tea burns more than horses in the belly of a volcano,

guilt is not remorse, when there’s no residual heat left, just lead with your crotch


unctuousness, until — v:


cooking with citrus and olive oil is not a new raw format

            nor is fatphobia hidden in safe spaces far from the east


carpaccio (thinly sliced) when was the last time you apologized for your body?

              martyrs cannot sit on pedestals they are not around

                            to enjoy victory parties because they are dead


crudo (tartare) scan the room for objections to decrease

             chances of rejection squash blossoms are delicate vessels

                          waiting to be stuffed intertextually ready, but mostly wilted


tartare (coarse or finely minced) don’t yuck my yum with your bad mood

             some poems have appetites that are too disproportionate for their abilities

                          an illusion of autonomy is important for real world navigation


ceviche (marinated in citrus juice) an acorn doesn’t become oak tree overnight

              prepare your mise en place since bystanders can only assist

                            ugly and overconfident is the new in, can you taste the echo yet


sashimi (marinated, sauced, or garnished)

              when are you ready to stop apologizing for your body?

                           perhaps, it is human nature to bestow transformative power to trauma

                                         to make it more palatable, remove negative connotations of unhinged


Jax NTP holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from CSU Long Beach. They currently teach critical thinking, literature, and composition. They are working on two poetry manuscripts: In Bones & Tentacles: Forgetting as Commodity and How to Pivot When You’re Paralyzed. Their words have been featured in Berkeley Poetry Review, Hobart Literary Magazine, Apogee Journal, Cordite Poetry Review and elsewhere.

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