Published on Academy of American Poets (

zero in on

I turn on a light in a room I pace away from
take comfort behind neon signs    nested in wires
an errant mirror propped against a commercial strip
or cradled awkwardly in the elbows of a passerby
my legs become their legs
mushrooms came before us needing no light
now they clean up oil spills    rebuild biomes
ripped green awnings of my youth have become
sleek noun and noun stores like Gold and Rust where 
you can buy boutique sticks    stones    dead flowers
I’m more turned on by the defunct Mustang
its turquoise alive in the rain    nostalgia is dangerous 
turquoise that took millions of years to form   mined up
when there was one woman per one thousand men
Jin Ho threw herself into the bay when she learned
she would be sold into prostitution
threw herself not jumped so even in history she is 
an object possessing herself in an act of dispossession 
you make everything about yourself    
as if there’s another realm where I am real
if only    there was something essential    
an oil I could purchase that would reflect only you 
in my floral wrists shielding my eyes
here    take everything    my social security number
my hope that the rush of a population will crash


Copyright © 2020 by Claire Meuschke. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 29, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I accidentally moved into an Oakland studio apartment blocks away from my grandparents’ grave site. This poem pulls in artifacts from cemetery walks as well as archival research from the mission home where my ancestors lived and died in San Francisco. I attempted to bridge post-Gold Rush blues with post-Tech Rush blues—realities I live in perpetually.”
Claire Meuschke


Claire Meuschke

Claire Meuschke is the author of Upend (Noemi Press, 2020). She lives in Oakland, California.

Date Published: 2020-10-29

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