Literary Orphans

Iterations by Jesse Minkert

Life on many worlds has little time

to develop a flagellum

to cruise them through the soup

but time like a folded stratum breaks.

H-two-oh escapes into the vacuum

and all the clever single cells

have lost the opportunity to delegate

missions among their members

until the last flagellum spins

with nowhere worth the energy to go.

Momentum left behind in desiccated pools

and stones and dust.


On other worlds swarms of creatures swim

stand crawl walk run fly

create generations

diversify into niches

teem in crowded pools

push stones away and through layers

of rock cover the surface

darken the skies

scuttle on the floors of seas

but one day an asteroid stops by.

Many die. Some survive

for a while.


On a few worlds one beast has a gift

for invention: tools clothes shelters

farms cities books enemies slaves

guns bombs


Their end is not so hard to foretell.

They carry their extinction in their skulls.

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Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. For over twenty years he has written short radio plays to be performed and produced by blind and visually impaired young people in the Blind Youth Audio Project, and also many pieces for the Jack Straw New Media Gallery workshops at the Jack Straw Cultural Center, Seattle, Washington, in collaborations between Jack Straw and Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences. Minkert is Executive Director of Arts and Visually Impaired audiences. In 2008, Wood Works Press published Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms. In 2014 Minkert self-published his chapbook, RAFT, with poetry and graphics by the author. His work has appeared in over fifty journals including the Cream City Review, Confrontation, Mount Hope, the Floating Bridge Review, the Minetta Review, Poetry Northwest, Common Knowledge, and Harpur Palate. Thanks to Raven Chronicles, he is a 2016 Pushcart Nominee. This year Finishing Line Press published his poetry chapbook, Rookland.  

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–Art by Magdalena Roeseler