“Ars Poetica as an Epipen to the Eye”

A Poem by Jenna Lanzaro

May 18, 2023  By Literary Hub
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This movie does it badly, which is what’s so great.
I watch a lot of the laughably bad and feel
buttery floods of relief. Like the first time I got wet
and thought: this is how it’s supposed to be.
Robert Irvine makes latkes in a kayak.
His deltoid veins are ars poeticas, each one roaring
TRADITIONALLY DOMESTIC TASKS CAN BE HARDCORE.
Actually, I think I’d feel like myself browning onions
then punching a wall. Of course, many people don’t believe
in ars poeticas. Why must a thing have a code?
A smaller self than itself? Desperate Housewives is fun,
less bad, and a little moving.
When Lynette’s whole family possibly dies
buried in the rubble of a tornado, she screams, “Tom help! Tom help!”
for her husband who’s buried too. This shows
a primal instinct to invoke the only other human
who’d just as fiercely will rubble and doom off her kids.
I don’t want to know that primal instinct
but I wonder what I’d scream. Something in my ribs
rustles like a slo-mo wet dog in that scene. Like a dog
I push the like button too much, a pretty way
to make a point. What about a poem
that’s not an argument? Terrance tells me
I write rhetorically, which 1,
Earth to me, and 2, means I enacted an event
which now I’ve spent two years trying to prove
was worth the wreck.
Do you believe in ars poeticas?
Do you know of another way?
I tell friends I crave meaty narratives and they recommend
mermaid fiction, or anything Brendan Fraser
but The Mummy most of all. I’ve decided I don’t believe
in ars poeticas, though that epipen still feels like one.
Maybe it’s the point in time-space from which I watched the jab
squealing, “Ew no ew no!” that made it feel like a fundamental key.
I eat Smartfood in the living room, suck cheesy smears
off each thumb, think: this is life without him
and it’s real.

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