What else would happen to tawny down under blacklight except colorize, tie dye, and astound? Elysian fields gotta bloom somewhere. Except to say that humans made Elysium up, sending our measly derricks plumb down— and springhares invented this: secret libraries erected in open air, paper-marbled volumes spiraled sky high from ground to whiskered cornice. My life had stood a pastoral poem green and pristine. Undiscovered glens waiting for a hippie with a tab to find them or a medicine woman with mortar and pestle to grind them. Here I am, a child of the ‘80s just biding One Day at a Time, waiting for Schneider, my building’s hapless super, to show up sheepishly wielding the ultimate boon: one bulb of black light. Meanwhile, springhares wear Jupiter’s clouds as hidden skin and platypuses have settled in, gliding past permission and pictures. They’re out here living— disco ball dancing to music subdermal, platypussing through midnight water, emerging beaded in flamboyant kit. River-glittered Janus, dancer at a rave, she knows it’s last call, boogies on her plot, bucks up her bill, and shoots her shot. I want to go with her. I want to go. To a place where what swirls beneath our surface is only: B E T T E R Signifying nothing other than fuck it— let’s be beautiful in this tangle of roots together. In darkness, I watch her bright body streak, course, and dart. Her expression flickers. I’m a mirror. What’s here is there, within, without. Whether we’re ENOUGH is an absurd question. Head to toe, we’re animals efflorescent— bodypainted in poetry underneath selfsame coats. ____
L.J. Sysko’s work has appeared/is forthcoming in Ploughshares, BEST NEW POETS, Radar, Limp Wrist, SWWIM Every Day, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among others. BATTLEDORE, poems of early motherhood, was published as a chapbook in 2017 (Finishing Line Press). A 2022 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Thomas Lux Scholar, Sysko has been honored with both Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowships; her poetry has twice been shortlisted for the Fish Publishing Prize, judged by Billy Collins, and has earned finalist recognition from Marsh Hawk Press and The Pinch, among others. She is a reader for The Common and a Delaware State Arts Council board member; she can be found online at ljsysko.com.