Jessica Richardson


How about this:

there once was an iron finger and a loyal dog, they pointed, guiding.


the father of the fathers, his eyes were slack, off in dream.

The bronze shaded father, his mouth, it opened, laughing the name - Mason.

A yellow light was on against a bright cloud blue, the tree trunks bumped by tiny opened mouths. 

Let me back up.


glass spherules of molten rock were thrown into air and rained out over the world.


we went to work.

I skipped a lot of parts.

That matter doesn’t matter as much as the goodbyes said and maybe they don’t matter either, we’re loath to admit. Small warm hearts all marble chopped by absent stares, there/not there/not nautilus/not skull. The legend dons a purple blot.

I’m sorry but that language lab is closed for placement testing.

Let me back up.

To protect the gut use a hawks head. The art of once was told by animal stone. The metal father was dreaming, where we were, his finger and dog free to hunt. They hunted. Found a platypus ovalled all over from tail to beak, fur like a diorama donated by bliss.  

There Finger and Dog encountered an obstacle:

side notched flint point or a hump backed jasper scraper?

It was a goodbye as all choices are, which blade to say it with? How to scrape meat and tendon from a leg bone with a leg bone?

The finger and dog, they changed.

The father dreamed of a cramped spiral staircase shrinking, in his free hand a silver bucket of ash. 

To understand evolution, pull teeth. Finger and Dog, they did just that.

What are the bones called when the spine becomes throat in extinct mammals encased where someone dropped a pencil and the wood frame breaks?

No more knuckle walking, no more extra interclavical in the shoulder girdle or inner ear. Fingers unsheathed look like teeth, our naked Finger knew. For a moment, guilt,  for a moment. All that pointing and the groin melted smooth beneath a plastic bubble in the ultramagnetic invisibitliy that is shame.

The dying platypus gave the sign of the red lion in a bravery of blood shaped like a seahorse. Like my state. I’m a projector. Worse, the dangling chord of a projector, like a hung ring. Worse, an unmeant smile pumped into being by the chain of air between arms and ribs. That constant doing. A snake of tubing to introduce a dirt pile -  Ta da!

And fuck it, really, fuck it.

Let me back up.

What is the difference between the hands of a water basket weaver and the hands of a grain basket weaver?

Everything is the difference.

It has to do with finger hunger.

Some doing matters, some matter radiates crystal habit, habit or not old smokey frowns in a hexagon.

A moment:  

Finger’s shame. Shame limpened crook. But the smell of blood soon straightened Finger out. Erect again the story continued. But where were we? After fathers fathered fathers, glass spherules poured, platypus offered its curves to guides acting guideless in dream hunger, sickness honored by carvings, we went to work. There, recap.

A scaffold would be a sculpture if the vests were not orange. A pink lined warning marks the gallery of the building site. Says buried fiber, call before you dig. A hollow brown band hugs a telephone pole, a heartfelt apology for staples. There’s a rusted hole in the emergency assistance phone. Around the safety barrel, a rubber skirt to stand on. The fluff of fiberglass cushions disappointment when a door opens on brick.

Where were we?

The killing part.

Each jug has its slot in the water truck, do you see me pointing? I am.

The tip of the career services spire is a warning for falling children, but falling childrenit’s already too late. By the time our inverted umbrellas gather the rain of you and satellites spider metal blood work into sky, falling children you will no longer be children. Take lessons from how cephalopods spike to express circle. 

You already know this part.

How this would be Oz if a circle were a triangle.

The blinds are torn. Our ache is golden wrapped around my shoe. We are a space markered for a book on food. In the fossils record, there’s a ringing emphasis on guts. The blinds are torn and I’m sorry for deaths news. Its poor delivery.

What happened:

In the small story Finger ate Father’s hard dream of climbing.

In the grand story of the entire world, Finger froze, how each must. Picture a statue from the chin to the end of a long arm. One molten wiggle is trapped in the rock casing, lifted away from the face, to honor how once we honored the blank stare of a hawk peering into our illness. Once, we were guided.

Jessica Lee Richardson's first book, It Had Been Planned and There Were Guides (FC2, 2015), won the Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize and was longlisted for a PEN American Center award. Selections from her next collection appear in BOATT, the Collagist, Corium, the Masters Review and Wigleaf among other places.
Mark Cugini