Jessica Harman

Thoughts of Kindness

The word “you” crops up like freshly overturned
Earth. It’s full of worms and fool’s gold.
You can’t get away from its waterfall.
Its fragrant scent of almonds, green beans, and cold quartz.

You are making yourself, one little kindness
At a time. The world is a twisted machine in a cadaver
And you know this on days when it’s raining
Beyond the window of Starbucks. You look out,

Wondering what it’s really like to be you—
Do you even know? What is your heart?
Does lemon-lime really matter to you?
What about slave labor and human trafficking?

Next, you are going to learn to forgive
Yourself, though you’re not at that stage, yet.
You need to learn that a bit of peace is a lesson learned.
You are an orchard. Rejoice. Despite it all,

Sunlight falls through you at the slashing
And rakish angle of waterfalls.
Give yourself that opportunity to have less
Sugar in your coffee—you deserve that feeling

Of being a little more weightless. Settling into the sky,
You feel like a balloon or a deep-sea fish.
Be that starfish inching towards the palace of the coral reef,
Which is the mind porous to the seas of philosophy.

Yet you’re here on the ground level: There is work to do.
The Starbucks sound system is reverberating with harps.
Get busy with your pen which is a shovel, a fountain,
And a magic wand. The world is waiting for your words.


1:11 AM, Thinking Of Seagulls Eating Pizza Crusts

All I know is it wasn’t winter, there was no ice—we sat on a wall
On the McGill campus feeding seagulls pizza. The birds swarmed

Us, and we laughed, fending off hungry beaks. Blue jean
Tear-swirl sky through a flurry of wings—you slipped

The moon in your back pocket after we got up because all
Our pizza was gone. Again, you wowed

Me like no one else could, with such a simple swagger and a smile
That connected my lips to my spine. I will remember you

This way, smirking, after the seagulls brought us laughter
From their sea of white wings, after we wasted time

And knew we had nowhere else to be. Under the fluttering
Shadows of birds, we held a moment between us, and it was forever,

That day, though we did not know it then.



Having Coffee, Thinking Of You As If You Were Alive

I talk. I talk and I talk and sometimes I listen.
The quest is endless as coffee refills at Arlington

Diner, black as the dark side of the moon,
Potent crater of the mind. Your death doesn’t twist me:

It frees me across the plane of the ocean,
So that I just soar, and glide. The horizon does its tricks

Which only the dead can relay to you. I never knew
How much you meant to me—really I didn’t—

Until you were gone. We held up cups to each other,
Made of the paper of the world, looking

Into the maps of each others’ faces. We are made
To weather lightning. Lightning unfolds over time.

Time does not care if we are afraid—the vibe
That guides us only cares if we make it through.


Thirsty For Candy And Love And History And Meaning

Sometimes I want to bubble, believing I am the geyser
Of lemon-lime in the soda fountain behind the counter of the diner.

Sometimes, I want to be what you thirst for. So as I sit
Next to the guy I used to date in one of the Starbucks

In Harvard Square, I think of the heart, and its smart
Whiplash pace of devious pumping, as I catch a stranger’s eyes

On a fishhook. The moon and sun and Jupiter know us
Just by looking at how our shadows intermingle

As we walk down the street. You and me, ghost.
The bricks of the uneven

Reddish russet pavement add texture to autumn light
Falling, falling, falling through the backwards chute of the mind.

You can really get something if you give up everything.
But then you have to start collecting sea shells

And sofas all over again. It’s all about accumulation.
That sad old happy story of joy. Sometimes I wish a hug

In all this tentativeness was the answer. But I keep bleeding.


Jessica Harman is a writer living in the Boston area. She earned a B.A.
in Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal. Her poems
have appeared in "Nimrod," "Spillway," "Arion," "Stand," "Rosebud" and
"Bellevue Literary Review." She has several chapbooks forthcoming from
Alternating Current/Propaganda Press, and a full-length collection,
"Data," is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. She teaches for a