Three Poems

Poetry by Robyn Schelenz
I love my room, by June Gutman. Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist.

The Carnival

I once had a job
at the carnival.
At the carnival
I was a woman.
I just sat there,
being a woman.
You could come up
and ask me questions
about being a woman.
Or possibly
other aspects of my person.
It was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
to ask a woman.
One child came up to me
and asked me
Are you a woman
and I said yes.
One child came up to me
and asked me
if I liked having breasts.
I said
They’re as weird to me
as they are to you.
The line moved.
I did some calculus.
I refused to juggle.
I did not drink Mountain Dew concoctions
or stand on my head.
I wed two dolls
and told two high school sweethearts to use protection.
I told them I could see a rainbow before it happens.
I admitted I don’t know what it’s like to be dead.
My pool of deep honesty was open to all.
The more questions I answered
the more children seemed to come.
Soon the dunk tank guy
threatened not to surface.
Tensions rose in the big top.
On my smoke break someone cruising in a car
asked me about my vagina
and I said
You’ll never have enough tickets for that one.
Kids went back to school,
adults to email.
The carnival turned into a ball of fluff.
Processed cotton
wisped away over some hill.
I fell asleep
on a warm summer day

Careful on the stairs

there is a little beetle here
it has a little yellow marking
near its shoulder
I can put it on your hand
so you can feel it

The Bank

My mom named me after a bank.
I guess she thought it would be good luck
But I don’t know who for.

The bank is doing well.
It used to be on one hill,
Now it’s on all twelve.
Every once in a while a teller reminds me of my name,
That it’s funny,
And I agree.

There’s nobody in the world who isn’t reflected at least a little bit
In a little something. Me, I look up at a bank and see me
Even when inside there’s someone else.
And from the hill, I see the whole hillside.

I own it all. Yes, I bet I funded that roof
And made that hairline a little thicker this spring.
And I bet I bought that TV I see the game on
Thinly through the window.
Bought the game too.
And while I didn’t buy that hawk springing
Down into the hapless grass
Let’s not pretend
I wouldn’t if I could.

Robyn Schelenz

Robyn Schelenz is from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. Her work can be found at Back Patio Press, DUSIE, Gone Lawn, JAKE, Maudlin House, and Permafrost. Her chapbook "Natural Healing," a collection of short poems, prose poems and fables about our (un)natural attempts to heal the (un)natural world, is out from Bottlecap Press. She lives in San Francisco.

June Gutman

June Gutman is a Jewish, self-taught artist living in Montreal, Canada. Gutman’s artwork ranges in style, media, and subject matter becoming a vibrant forum for her to explore ideas about psychology, art history, self knowledge, and the ways “mental illness” - as defined by mainstream psychiatry - has caused her personal harm.

Gutman is an unbelievably prolific artist whose work may be best defined by its focus on “The Terror” - a haunting psychological state that can produce a nightmarish sensation akin to psychedelia or mystical transcendentalism. Through her work, she attempts to relieve the pain of this “Unreality” while also exploring the opaque nature of thought and the human mind.

Intuitive yet focused, horrible yet humorous, Gutman ventures into the deep recesses of the psyche finding delicate connections wedged in its corners like an archeologist dusting through the layers of a palimpsest. References run through art history with ventures into pop culture and even extraterrestrial beings. Works give the uncanny sensation of being anachronistic, complex, and radically unique.

Written by Kishka Gallery