Poems by Jessica Roeder


Abstraction and the Road Trip


Our class is not kind in its feelings. Its imperfections are unintelligible. Our men are encouraged to be inattentive but accessible, like our roads. Intelligence in us is not educated. In time, everyone feels unworthy, because oneness forms by way of nots. Not aristocrat, not native, not man but men. The cult of transmission is a cult of nationality, one man at a time. A chosen man is a native form. The form and the times are one, in passing. May one feel religious? One may be religious. Good or not good in religion. Aristocratic, of acknowledged worth.


Morning Letter


They strike, and we are willing, if waiting is willing. For shelter, an empty jar will do. They relocate my shoes as their friends scatter handfuls of grass. I am old but partially able. Morning, you see, is imperative, the way it follows. Their notice cuts my feet. Reader, hear this. A hammer is more quiet and a better friend. My waiting moved them, until they were found. In one week they were twenty ways a success, in all locations. They had straw, grass, sticks, and still they reminded me of themselves. Sooner I would have been empty as a straw. Sooner I would have helped the straw to scatter. The bees are their spite visiting, returned in a shoe box. Reader, be glad. Be lost. I am a success the way a back is a front. This morning, their handfuls of grass won’t stick. I wait with a fly in the jar that a bee circles. No way in.


Author’s Note: The words in “Abstraction and the Road Trip” all come from a passage in Tolstoy’s “What Is Art?” as translated by Aylmer Maude.

All of the words in “Morning Letter” come from a single passage in The Art and Adventure of Beekeeping by Ormond and Harry Aebi.


Jessica Roeder - headshotJessica Roeder lives in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, where she teaches writing and dance. Her poems and stories have appeared in Threepenny Review, Narrative, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She has received a Pushcart Prize and a McKnight Artist Fellowship and is currently working on a novel.




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