Thursday, February 25, 2021

Jessi MacEachern, A Number of Stunning Attacks


Gender is a good friend



A hurt self on wooden surface
An immediate forgetting



A decaying kaleidoscope
Encouraging the smoke



                        I’ve forgotten about morning,



Benjamin attests there can be nothing more pleasant
Than to lie on a sofa and read



Benjamin is something remote from us (“A Miniature Gender”)

Montreal poet Jessi MacEachern’s full-length debut is A Number of Stunning Attacks (Picton ON: Invisible Publishing, 2021). The lyrics of A Number of Stunning Attacks accumulate into a book-length suite around orientation and self-examination, lyric intimacy and presence, and the workings of the body and gender. “For our feminine organs,” she writes, as part of the third section, “there will be no meaningful study / the heart may think it knows better //// & grow quiet [.]” Composed as a sextet of serial poems—“The Moat Around Her Home,” “Stagger and Sing,” “Notes on Moving,” “A Miniature Gender,” “A Number of Stunning Attacks” and “Orwomen”—A Number of Stunning Attacks is constructed via short, accumulative bursts, quick lyric sketches that layer, stretch and weave. Hers is a lyric across an incredibly wide canvas. “Without her human limbs she was unable to carry / something other than herself,” she writes, as part of the third section, “Is real / the day is like his straying [.]”

Our feminine organs discerned it
fireflies beat from the knot of his tie


A spiral of lightning-quick whispers flamed
the cheeks of the hushed boy-child



Like a knife he stood in memory
an unshaven lip the transformative flash



We grew quiet



Her body spreads indefinitely beneath the belt
her lacquered white coat askew



She must look to move or be moved
the senses know that absence blots people out (“Notes on Moving”)

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