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Jessica Wiseman Lawrence

I Call Them Waterbugs


Those mahogany-shelled, greased, ancient insuppressible

foretokens of disgrace-

I call them waterbugs and deny them.

One crawls up my pants as I change the baby’s diaper

and I don’t feel it until it is under my shirt,

on my back, running in a hurried curlicue.

I stand shaking and jaw-clenched until the baby is safe in the crib,

and then I dance- it’s well-rehearsed now- until I hear a clatter to the floor. 

I kill it with a worn purple flip flop, breathing heavy, knowing there are hundreds 

in the walls, and brush that reality away again.

I tuck the blankets tight to seal our bodies against them at night.



Four cards are on the table- four suits

arranged as punnett squares.

There is the equal difference of sweet peas-

a box cut in half, once more.


I know four faces, still and plaintive.

I hear the rush of four wings. One is healing.

I am swept up in the green color 

of creating the creator's creation again, and again.


It took four poems. Two were handwritten, 

one untidy on a bare leg, one slow and careful- revised.

Another was clicked out on a black plastic at four in the morning.

The last I keep to myself- rough quartz in my pocket.

Really Scrub It


Great Aunt Margaret glared at me from her couch and threw

her magazine against the wall. 

"Don't you ever wash your face? Wash your face now, and really scrub it. Oh, the 

way you look- it's a shame!"

The school pictures that my mom sent to her stayed in a junk drawer.

Jessica Wiseman Lawrence lives in rural central Virginia and received her liberal arts education from Longwood University. She recently published work in the "Where I Live" series for Silver Birch Press, and also has poems currently upcoming in Third Wednesday, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Gloom Cupboard Magazine, Zoomoozophone, LIpstick Party Magazine, UNTUCKED, and The Activity Report. Her work focuses on current events, motherhood, poverty, and nature. She also has an interest in earth science and biology. 

Poetry Publications: 
"That People See," Silver Birch Press, "Where I Live," March 2015. 
"Work," Lipstick Party Magazine, March 2015 
"Antisocial," Lipstick Party Magazine, March 2015 
"Potato Chips," Gloom Cupboard Magazine, upcoming in April 2015. 
"Planets," Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, upcoming in May 2015. 
"Slowly," The Activity Report, upcoming in 2015. 
"Zoo," Third Wednesday, upcoming in 2015. 
"Ephemeris," Zoomoozophone, upcoming in 2015. 
"The Last Poem on Earth," UNTUCKED, upcoming in 2015. 

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