Frigg | Fall/Winter 2023/24 | What to Look for When You Look for a Spine | Jacob Schepers
What to Look for When You Look for a Spine Jacob Schepers
O backslide. O chiropractic mishap.
You leave me misshapen. Not happenstance
but by and by. By holistic failure.
By alternatively derived medicine.
I try to stand, thrive on my own two feet,
improve my vertebrae-aligned posture
but falter, gutted, expectedly so,
for such a spineless thing. I have
no guts, no spine. I am absolutely
prokaryotic and so aspire to
more Essential Oils, Reiki. A holdout
on prayer, hung juries, I fashion a poultice
I apply to every nook and cranny.
Whatever flagellum propels me
in fluid further through the deep Arctic sea,
hugs. Sea slugs and squid refine a latent
luminescent knack for digesting
the viscera of a crumpled submarine,
field notes written in glow-in-the-dark gel
pen. Envious angel fish swim too far
down, watching on in packs for body heat
that even my bargain-bin thermal specs
pick up. Green in the gills, they sense where
they’re coldest. They know better than to trust
that the pharmaceutical particulates
will settle in their beds, their bellies, their
shallows. Their bleached reefs growing blonder.
Their battered fillets giving sacrifice. These angels
have spines for the taking, being
none the wiser as to how many
fish hooks might one day shape a makeshift halo.
Jacob Schepers Comments
I adore the poetic “O”—the lyrical baggage it carries, its snootiness at times and, at others, its wryness, and, even more foundationally, its beastly holler in the extralinguistic yawp. It’s a silly move, perhaps, to humble the “O” by associating it with back pain, but doing so provided the animus for this poem in this way. From there, the various conditions, symptoms, and treatments that run through the first half of the piece create the space to devolve. The room to transform. To shirk pain and the consequences of being a pain in the neck yourself. To dwell among more primordial life forms that even now suffer and bear the brunt of anthropogenic pollutants. I suppose what I’m gesturing toward is a bleaker, Late-Capitalist rendition of the medievals’ “Great Chain of Being” where hope (or something like it) somehow still subsists.