Jeffrey Neilson


Series’ Bosom

Why in the world did we build this home?  Fold-and-store cardboard boxes warp and collapse into a waterlogged burial beneath the corrugated fiberglass roof and stacks of fuzzy, highly flammable nylon bath mats of all shades of Easter egg.  All goodness of sedentary life buried in these drifts upon which the slow wind carries the scavenger out to prey.  The exposed ruin closes every vital continuum, every series of habits, every lived succession, including the seemingly most formless drifting and the most advanced neglect and exhaustion.  His voice instinctively trembles and crackles in muttered repetitions of an attempt to justify or exonerate the Beloved.  Yard’s layered with soil unturned.  Nothing’s been interred nor interrupted.  Nothing spurned from the unearned as the maximal absorption of distinctive phases of life’s history from one day to another builds upon.  Iris opens in the night: its life a burnt scroll, a blackened lantern twisting and recoiling as inner flesh reveals the animating pressure of a body shot and collapsing groundward.  The intervals between each manifestation guard a bit of this substance and its impressive disappearance.  Flower molts.  Eyes give way to sleep.  Interest stretches and enlarges the will to perceive the really real.  Could it be there again after all these years?  Grasping, again.  Our lapse is not as fast as the wavebreeze wishing away its measured sway between chaos and cliché.  Sooner than now the mine responds to its echo.  Soon comes the time to say soothing words.  Soon this time overcomes the internal distance of your four-cornered nightmare and you will have entered the fifth dimension.

Citation Note:

The two italicized lines are taken from the following sources:

  • Peter Sloterdijk. You Must Change Your Life: On Anthropotechnics. Malden: Polity, 2009. 
  • Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1968.



Jeffrey Neilson was born and raised in Berkeley, California.  He studied drumming and poetry at UC Berkeley, after which he lived and taught English in Wakayama, Japan for three years.  In 2014 he received his Ph.D. in English from Brown University, and is currently a Lecturer of English at Menlo College.  His poetry and criticism have appeared in Contemporary Literature, Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture, those that this, Comma, PoetryThe California Journal of Poetics, and The Berkeley Poetry Review.  He is currently working on two books of poetry—one called Hoarder,and the other Berkeley (the titles might just say it all)—as well as two book-length studies—one on the trope of a poet’s “vocation” in postwar America, and one that explores time-lapse aesthetics in modern and postmodern literature and film.