Two Poems by Mara Jebsen

Grabbing the Lamp by the Neck

New idea occurs to me:
never be a person; never become
one person; forget the dream
of Coherence; allow the messy
selves to take their turns.
My room, my brain, glow
tungsten wire, the shapes now
arbitrary, form a finite
fact in an infinite sky; the lamp
smug in illusive position, for now
says time like a cartoon villain, what
peace! To be orange buoy
bobbing in choppy
verdigris sea; un-photographable,
mind on the move, snow-
bank blown apart into roses, white roses.


Reading While Female

It was as I played hooky from the whole
of my life; stole an hour and quarter in a hotel bar,
alone, mind you, to read, that I saw
how the fluted amber of the tea-light arced
the cream of my page, the valley
of the spine, and I was reminded of the candle
I’d lit that morning; the one that says Alchemy
And Venus III, the one with the sputtering wick,
sprigs of lavender; the one you must
absolutely remember to blow out; and I
could not remember if I’d blown it out, I
could not picture myself blowing it out;
and I tried to bring myself to text my husband
to see if he was home, or if I’d burnt
our whole home down. Long story short, I had not.
But I wondered then and there at the hotel bar
if I’d read too many books about women who are punished.


Mara Jebsen teaches at New York University. She received her MFA from NYU and BA from Duke University. Mara holds a New York Foundation for the Arts award in poetry and her book, ‘The White Year’ was a finalist for the Jake Adam York prize with Milkweed Editions. Mara’s work can be found in the American Poetry Review, Hanging Loose Press, jubilat, Sixth Finch and in other journals. She was raised in Lome and in Philadelphia.