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Jessie Carty


The Factories Don't Install Emotion Tapes

Shopping After the Apocalypse (II)

What You Want To Remember About the Body

Shopping After the Apocalypse (III)


--after Shanna Compton

It’s gradual -- the leaning in. How you don’t realize you are starting to squint. How you need extra light to read labels. How you have to turn your head into a conversation. How much easier you find it where things are closed captioned. How much everything is coated in a layer of concentration. You wish there were subtitles in the air for slang you don’t have the time (or the desire) to learn. You forget to close obvious things like cabinets . . .  and sentences. You write hand-written letters again because pen and paper feel like a purposeful use of nostalgia. You realize how much you want to record something that feels permanent even though you know paper will lean into fire, into folding, into the feint of the wind.

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The Factories Don’t Install Emotion Tapes

--after Amy Bagwell’s poetry/art exhibit

“Poets are factories,” you tell the artist,
“like the digestive system with material in,
processing, and product out.”

The artist doesn’t disagree, but is more fluid;
argues a poem is thirst, is the desire
to freeze things into cubes.

Where the artist sees beauty
in flaking metal, you remember
necessity: yard sales with jeans

for a quarter; scuffed, but wearable
thrift store Converse.
You want to see grace

in the nicked and smooth edged.
You want to love salvage
instead of being the girl

who had to decide:
save the cash
or trade it in for real

x-ray glasses, psychedelic
light bulbs, the seeds
of a flesh eating plant.

The artist explains her exhibit takes its title
from a Jetson’s episode; that the line
refers to their concern that their robot, Rosie,

was malfunctioning
because she had fallen
in love. The artist says

most of the poems
in the show
are about doomed

love: everything
a palimpsest.

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Shopping After the Apocalypse (II)

Because the streets of your neighborhood look like a game of vehicular pick up sticks. Because you wonder if all the roads will look the same. Because you’ve always preferred walking to riding. You decide you’ll go it by foot. You locate the compass your father-in-law gave you when your house was built. The compass tells you that South is to your left and inline with the street, but heading to the end of the cul de sac. You try to rotate your mental map. Remember all the times you spun around your home on Google Earth. Think due south will take you through other suburbs and greenways before you get close to the highway. You aren’t sure if you should stick to the roads. If you should travel at night. Should you be concerned with what parts of town are good or bad anymore? Your neighborhood has been so quiet. You have no idea who else is left. If they’ll care that you are ready to move on. To pick up supplies while you travel. You put on your backpack. Sling your messenger bag across your chest. You bet yourself that the first place you’ll find will be a gas station. You guess it’ll be at least three miles till you find something. That’s a good hour of walking. One hour. Open twenty-four hours. Sometimes it hurts to think in hours?

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What You Want to Remember About the Body

is what it was to be ten, remembering age nine. To be able to recall a time when your age was in single digits. How brief your life is before ten compared to all the double digit years that follow. What did you actually think on your 10th birthday? Did it feel momentous then? Or had too much already changed? Divorce. Moves. Signs of puberty already across your chest, in your armpits. Did you turn ten and suddenly want a boyfriend? Dream of being married? Was it only up to age nine when all your dreams were about what job you would have when you grew up? Was it at ten that you first imagined moving further than a few miles away? It was the year you tried putting a different name down on your papers in school. The year your teacher actually went along with your renaming, but everyone else in the school still knew your birth name. They would not let you have a new one.

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Shopping After the Apocalypse (III)

You throw a small stone across the parking lot. You have a collection of stones in a mesh bag that you used for machine washing your bras. It was a late addition to your backpack. You first filled it with decorative stones from a bamboo plant someone gave you and the crushed brick that replaced the mulch in from of your house.

You wait what you feel is a reasonable amount of time.

You should get a watch.

You compile a future lunch: a bag of pretzels, a can of tuna, bottled water.

For a while you thought you’d keep a record of where and what you took as if you would later pay someone back,

You pick up a travel map.

You pack toilet paper, baby wipes, cans of beanie weanie, beefaroni, chips, and more pretzels. You used to avoid pretzels. Worried about too much gluten.  

You are near the intersection of an interstate and a four lane road.

You decide to brave the road for a while.

Your heart still quickens with every little non-animalistic sound, but you want to believe that anyone else out shopping after the apocalypse is like you. That they’ll tip their hat. Maybe wave as Southerners tend to do. That they’ll take their share and move on.  

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Jessie Carty is the author of seven poetry collections which include the chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2011 Robert Watson Prize and her newest full length collection Practicing Disaster which was published by Aldrich Press in 2014. Jessie is a freelance writer, teacher, and curator of the online literary space  “Then and If.” She can be found around the web, especially at

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