“Performance Without Notes” by Jeff McRae

Jeff McRae


We were abused by being
made to abuse one another:
who could stand longest
kicked in the crotch? Roll
in that dog shit. Which
arrow can you catch in
your teeth? Divide four
days of garbage by seven
fifth graders with Nantucket
baskets. We lost every time.
Bees snuggled in our soda.
Firecrackers did not dislodge
the beetle from the jellyroll
but after that there was no
telling jelly from jellied beetle.
We were not apprised
of the consequences of our rage
so that later when we went
under the stars and figured
probably god was bullshit
we couldn’t stop from bashing in
the first old man we saw.
A whole high school of girls
walked by in yoga pants.
A brief heaven. Then
a weeping toothless man
with one leg on crutches.
A sad heck. A question
of morality: we figured
he must have survived war,
not raped children. We ran,
we caught him just in time!
When the girls helped lift him
my fingers touched
the marvelous literature
of wrists and I could not escape
the feeling I had been inserted
into the heavy days
of childhood, soaking up
a carnage I was expected
to later turn into exercises.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts


Jeff McRae: “I’ve been an adjunct for thirteen years. Being an adjunct gives me the flexibility to write and provides the uncertainty to make it feel necessary.”

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