Poetry by Jake Syersak

"Frost Flower 3" by Tom Reed / artsy.net/artist/tom-reed



Verses Out of the Vortex(t): Climate Vortex

[		“Scientists Calculated a 'Point of No Return' For Dealing With Climate Change—& Time is Running Out” (BUSINESS INSIDER: AUGUST 30, 2018)		]

frontier is a stupid word it’s true after all our dreams no longer 
deserve us
swimming like an out-of-control 
semi veers a freeway toward its yet-anatomy (yes 

to vulnerability 
like that
by the way) like the rhyme of tree
with me the vortex churns for instance the eyes which sift 

the sky’s aquarium like some drunken bird
of paradise it’s amazing 

how birds & fish seem to shift the axial whims
their eye-sockets 
rounding off a single conscientious “We shall not cease
from exploration / And the end
of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started
And know 

the place for the first time” from here I think I could scrape the same kaleidoscopic
rust with a spoon 
against the insides of a spaghettios can out

into where the true heavenly.wav

“Death is a kaleidoscope” warbles our outer limits into the plumage
of a willow merely
weeping down to where “it is a sad perspective 
which adds an 
to another ‘I-don’t-know-what’ & “consequently the tongue

is a chair” an incline into us putting us on the spot
& just like that 

I recline
into apocalypse because every single 
disaster movie 

taught me that’s what you do 
but what I’d like 


is to write the vortex(t) out before I’m 



Verses Out of the Vortex(t): Wildfire Vortex

[	“The Worst Fires in Recent California History: The Carr Fire is Even More Alarming When You Put it in Context” (SLATE: JULY 31, 2018)		]

coolly cerebral the trees in all fairness 
express their membranal 
ness the firs 
in particular tressed out as if “an accordion 

white bats” or phone cords or xylophones even
of ash 
something incommunicable I

can’t decide what 

to tell my mother after 
she calls me 
from outside Seattle 
& describes the smoke-fast-haze “as if this earth in fast
thick pants 

breathing,” to graze over the Puget Sound like 

the glitch
limping doe’s

across the freeway under the lamplight of rush-hour 

traffics the vortex until said vortex(t) is writ
as invisible ink
until it’s not an option “Open thine eyes eterne, 
& sphere them round / Upon
all space: space starr’d, & lorn of light; / Space
region’d with life-air; & barren
void; / Spaces of fire, & all the yawn of hell” his excellency

who presides
tweets the blame for the largest CA wildfire
on record to the timber 
industry’s lack of growth & I lose what sort of wind’s

required to grow the kind of tornado I
should become because I have witnessed the spread

of the human spine.exe
to function



Verses Out of the Vortex(t): Water Vortex

[	“This Heartbreaking Photo Reveals a Troubling Reality: Photographer Justin Hofman's Image of a Seahorse Swimming with a Discarded Cotton Swab Illustrates the Issues of Pollution in our Oceans” (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: September 19, 2017)		]

a seahorse with a q-tip rolled up in its tail rolls out
one queued-up reel of possible
apocalyptic worlds
like a red carpet unrolling like a “scorpion’s beautiful 

question mark” 
in heatwaves over Sumbawa Besar, Indonesia’s 
& through my cranium like the sweltering heat of July 
in rural Georgia state 
wafts from each sunlight-sharped tines
of an rusted upright garden rake gone unused “a hundred visions 
& revisions”
urge me today be salt enough be scree

enough to understand 
the ocean’s becoming plasticity becoming
a tear’s becoming
a stranger’s attention in a physician’s waiting room “the line

does not exist it is already
form” how fragile the mind that occupies
this terrain I fold

the illusions into commas I nuzzle up the gasoline jug’s
enflamed nozzle

like a swarm of aphids “eventually we must
combine nightmares”
until my heart’s a special hue of greenery my heart’s
becoming phlegm

the sting of becoming
what the vortex 
knows well enough the vortex(t) sows


Jake Syersak is the author of Yield Architecture (Burnside Review Books, 2018). He also serves as an editor for the poetry journal Cloud Rodeo, the micro-press Radioactive Cloud, and the small poetry press Letter Machine Editions.