Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

            applied classics 

I woke up brilliant in a forest    chock full of new intelligences    the woven 
nets of scent dragged me miles from myself

Dizzying in the same way trying to grasp the horizon makes a person feel 
sick & giddy

Suddenly the thought I have a bank account lands like a lash of vinegar on 
bicarb    the fizzy giggles oh my god

What would they do with

Living back there was to act pressed    between glass slides    to be cross-
sectioned & mounted 

& then I woke up brilliant    i.e. the moon fell through the firs like Mylar 
ribbon over my eyes & I thought

does the moon on waking    first thing    lift her shirt to  inspect her 
stomach to see how it fails to pass muster today    ha    does she   the fuck

This is a peaceful village the neighbors back there loved to telegraph    This is 
a peaceful village please 

read that with a scrunched low voice & a jolly hoedown waggle of the arms 
like     you know   how a civic Rumplestiltskin would say

The old tea shop’s floor-to-ceiling drawers always looked poised to speak    
a gallery of silent faces never successfully saying ooo

This pleased them    as if the neighbors could shut up a room by just 
stepping over a threshold

Either they will not know me or they will know me immediately    these 
changes to me feel    cosmetic   a logical    if impractical extension

The collective noun for knives in a block    is a slumber   that one’s never 
catching on with the neighbors

The kids are mirroring me   taping butter knives to their fingers    it’s 

The neighborly thing for me   per them would be to just wait out there   
bewildered black hole    spawning bang in the middle of Park Street

Just sit tight    brace myself
for their spring 

            buys off the guard dog

Once I was asked to name my favorite color, & surprise to 
me, said plummy purple, color of my first lash out into a 
world of thingness, a change purse in the shape of a silk 
fish. How I keep bringing its surfaces toward me. I can’t 
stress how weird it is to relearn currency. Away from 
people, what even is money? Money nowhere near as good 
as how to solve a problem. How to eat. The dog guarding 
the garbage pile doesn’t want money. Money just a hum on 
a server, a fan overclocking. What would the dog do with 
a collection of hums? The dog wants a bone. I bring him 
the femur of a deer, not clean, not even cooled. He looks 
away & lets me pass. I did that. My currency. It almost 
looks human.



From the Author: These two poems are part of a series that recasts the myth of Callisto from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I want to push the myth beyond its usual boundaries, where Callisto is victimized & then transformed into a bear as punishment. I don’t want to punish Callisto. I’m interested in exploring how human systems (or humanesque; Callisto was a nymph) might travel & morph inside an animal body. So you’ve been transformed into a bear; now what? 

Twice selected for Best New Poets (2014 & 2016), Jen Jabaily-Blackburn’s most recent work has appeared in The Common, Indiana Review, and Massachusetts Review. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her family, where she is the program and outreach coordinator at the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center at Smith College.