S. R. Aichinger

To Feel Like Jessica Lange

I smoked these long Parliaments
to feel like Jessica Lange for you.
I stayed up
               all night, pearling
our cinder block sky, crowning
our carnival with safety-net stars.
Come morning
               we were still knee-deep
in acid rain. I guess you meant it
when you said "I swear to God."
Our astronomy was
               a tricky language
we never learned to speak, so
I kept throwing up on your Tilt-
A-Whirl. Your laughter
               spun around me
a smeared Molotov mouthful.
I'm the worst kind of carnie:
I play my own
                rigged games
straight down the midway. 
I'm the best kind of clairvoyant;
I remember
               who we were in every word
you'll never say because today
I feel like Jessica Lange:
Bless his heart—
                still believes he'll meet her
one day on his way through Cloquet,
off the highway, in the shade
of the old water mill
                he keeps in his head, 
dipping its hands into that lapping,
endless river, saying,

“I'm sorry,
                I'm sorry, I'm sorry…”


S. R. Aichinger earned an MFA in creative writing from Creighton University. His work appears or is forthcoming in |tap| litmag, Into the Void Magazine, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, Gyroscope Review, and others. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.