Issue > Poetry
Perry Janes

Perry Janes

Perry Janes is a Pushcart Prize-winning writer and filmmaker from Metro Detroit, Michigan. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Normal School, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. In 2013 his short film "Zug" toured international film festivals before winning a Student Academy Award from the AMPAS. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California, and is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College.

Insect Life in Michigan

                    —after Lynda Hull
 

In those days, I thought the dried-husk
chrysalis that clung to our cars
was a type of thumbprint wilderness

pressed on the city. Mornings, fish flies
rose from Lake St. Clair to paper
buildings with their ash-

figured swarm. All that spring, my father
hunched to peel them from the wind-
shield with a sticky displeasure

I woke to, their cracking pops—chill
rain tapping the rooftop. Even then, I knew
there was comfort in this ritual:

the separation of animal hunger
from its perch. In those days,
my father drove door-to-door

with glossy brochures for log cabin
A-frames papering the seats
which is just another way of saying

we were constantly aware,
my father and I, of where
we could not be: Alaska,

adulthood, each day that March
like another word in childhood's
run-on sentence of undefined

desires, the township names
my father rolled against his pallet—
Yakutat, Talkeetna, Nikiski

blurred into a low-note hum
of engine cough and insects
caught in the fuel pipe.

Even then I knew
he would not make a sale.
Those nights, idling

near the razor weed lakeshore,
we sat beneath sodium vapor
streetlamps hovelled

in their own breathing
shell, a finery
of wings that trembled

against our labored breath
while we watched
the frail chassis peel

from themselves,
mutely, as though
without complaint.

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