Poetry / Adriana X. Jacobs


:: Deformation ::

A mother falls through a bed of chalk flowers, pulling her child behind her. A store 
crumbles, spilling votives into the street. The rats pour out of a manhole cover, 
shedding future plagues. And after they clear, a mailbox tips over. The polaroid of 
the family cat falls into the void (they will find him in a thousand years). The glossy 
beetles slide off their pins and take flight. Someone painted “everything will be ok” 
on the bridge. This is how it will be when it is over. The morning news and missing 
faces stitched together. While the wires hold together. Branches covered with the 
luggage of layovers. The restaurant laid out for missed reservations. And under the 
sink, poached chicken in duck fat waiting to be served. There will be no theory for 
the shells in the child’s pocket. For the threads of neon green and yellow, stems of 
flowers stripped from the pavement, migrating into the lower strata, and staying 
there, like a tear on a chin. One of the els collides with the legs of a cockroach to 
form an ancient language. The legs of the k will keep on going, like one of those half 
bodies still walking ahead. 

From the writer


:: Account ::

Defor­ma­tion” comes from a poet­ry book man­u­script I have been work­ing on that is inspired by video games like The Last of Us, Plague Tale: Requiem, and Death Strand­ing. Both the book and this poem imag­ine a left­over world care­ful­ly explored and picked over by those who remain. A few months into the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, I read an arti­cle about the clo­sure of restau­rants in New York City and the future of the food indus­try. The line that stood out for me con­cerned the preser­va­tion of par-cooked chick­en in duck fat. The chef wasn’t sure that this would work, so I took this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to try a dif­fer­ent method and poach the chick­en instead. I imag­ined some­one stum­bling into the restau­rant kitchen decades from now. Maybe they would be hid­ing or return­ing to a place full of good mem­o­ries of anoth­er time. They would find air-tight bags of chick­en encased in duck fat and maybe have the best meal of their life. Or the rats would get to it first. This image became the ker­nel of “Defor­ma­tion,” which approach­es cri­sis as a seis­mic event, rear­rang­ing mem­o­ries, rou­tines, lan­guage. But in most of my poems, this process is nev­er com­plet­ed; rather, I am inter­est­ed in the space and time between break­down and repair, the state of being in cri­sis, at the edge of greed and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, gen­eros­i­ty and violence.


Adri­ana X. Jacobs is a poet, schol­ar, and trans­la­tor based in Oxford, Eng­land and Brook­lyn, NY. Her poems have appeared recent­ly in Black­box Man­i­fold, Asoophit, Place de la Sor­bonne, Poet­ry Dis­patch, and Tupe­lo Quar­ter­ly. Her trans­la­tions from Hebrew include Vaan Nguyen’s The Truf­fle Eye (Zephyr Press), win­ner of the 2022 Harold Mor­ton Lan­don Trans­la­tion Award, and Mer­av Givoni Hrushovski’s End— (Car­rion Bloom Books, 2023). She is the author of the poet­ry zine After­life is Sweet (rinky dink press) and the chap­book The Turn­ing (forth­com­ing, Danc­ing Girl Press). She teach­es Hebrew and com­par­a­tive lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford.