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Jason Harmon


Section 1

an experiment
deeply formal but never revealed
except through years of breathing
captured expressions       captured
by punctuation marks
i find it hard to recall how
it was startling
this lack of punctuation except
in the way that everything was punctuated


how it calls for pauses
how it calls for
and continues to demand reading
later it seemed that this is the way reading should
whether silently or aloud
capitalized a dash a comma
but discrete shards
were gathered they spilled
they drifted through the contexts
from one to the next evocative
smothered in myths, syrupy, warm


of the modern averted diverted
story without a story
an arc without trajectory
that holds attention in dreams not insipid
dreams the way approaching poems
after just writing words


“One day, I awoke” “& found myself on” “a subway, endlessly”
“I didn’t know” “how I’d arrived there or” “who I was” “exactly”
“But I knew the train” “knew riding it” “knew the look of”
“those about me” “I gradually became aware-” “though it seemed

as that happened” “that I’d always” “know it too-” “that there was”
“a tyrant” “a man in charge of” “the fact” “that we were”
“below the ground” “endlessly riding” “our trains, never surfacing”
“A man who” “would make you pay” “so much” “to leave the subway”

“that you don’t” “ever ask” “how much it is” “It is, in effect,”
“all of you, & more” “Most of which you already” “pay to
live below” “But he would literally” “take your soul” “Which is
what you are” “below the ground” “Your soul” “your soul rides”

“this subway” “I saw” “on the subway a” “world of souls”


slant rhyme per rhythm that may be free verse but is not prose
6 beats per line is one count
the grammar of the punctuation marks is like capturing character
variable types in SQL code, at least the typing of it
it encapsulates, it separates, it leaves a more defined
white emptiness
Between what I don’t know
the capitals serve as backwards periods, exclamations, but not
question marks, as those are needed to clarify meaning
this is a story remember, it functions within the frame
of a story in a subway of souls not hard & fast bodies
we get the idea
enjambment new possibilities lapsing trailing quote
leads on


to the next car, the next room, then next cave,
suddenly she arrives here, the explanation is forward
no background needed
she doesn’t even know herself, in a sense
except this is a place to be recognized
There was a tyrant
endlessly repeats mantra not self help
or perhaps when you are trapped to repeat where you are
helps more
in a world of souls we see more than normal
and less because we cannot exist materially yet
not until we have enough to purchase
or at least the tools to fight
or allow the fight in the wrong direction to end
all the ways, all the words, we could use oppose
have already been chosen and are useless
it is good to type these words
misinterpretation still breathes


I feel some iambic, some spondee & trochee
some spoken slowness in reading some beat
that can be broken by the non-linear, in places
where it holds up or quickened can accentuate
thump, breath, thump, thump, breath


“One day, I awoke” [breath] “& found myself on” “a subway, endlessly” [breath]
“I didn’t know” “how I’d arrived there or” [breath] “who I was” [breath] “exactly”
“But I knew the train” [breath] “knew riding it” “knew the look of” [breath]
“those about me” [breath] “I gradually became aware-” [breath] “though it seemed


variations are possible, quickening
back to staccato attention of our noise
between ‘on’ and ‘a’ in the first line is an imposition
of the order as is ‘or’ and ‘who’ in the second but
’awoke’ and ‘&’ is more structurally ‘natural’
the elegant history of narrative, do we begin in Homer
as Alice expounds where do we begin when we speak of beings
where are their adventures currently
when we go back and listen to snakes to owls to beaks
what do they tell us in our dreams which make no sense
tugging at an ear can pull at least a portion off
without blood but still discomfort
how is it possible that listening and reading can come so alive
is the subway enclosed is there an exit
and who guards each way ourselves
our bosses our language our perceptions our human
who guards it for women


initiatory —

dactylic hexameter, choral, practice runs were important, yet Alette a new work of art, *, the tyrant embodiment of culture, war as it relates to the tyrant, Alice reading —

Alice Notley, The Descent of Alette (Penguin Books, 1996)

* (what it means to the artist who creates is not necessarily what it means, even when interpreted after, although this is not disparaging, especially here, as the readings are so beautiful, but there must be other, wrong readings, although it would take a monumental effort to read as beautifully as the author)

Jason Harmon

Jason Harmon

Jason Harmon has previously published in Can We Have Our Ball Back? just about the time it collapsed. He applied for Spalding University MFA Fall term. He is employed as a Systems Analyst.

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