Back to Issue Thirty-Three

Riding in a Bus on the Way to Prison


Even Castaic has dull beauty
like a woman you’ve made love with 100 times
taking her clothes off in a Motel 6
not even looking at you.
This toilet seat is cold.
I want to die.
I love my misery.
I give thanks to it.
I don’t want to go to an outlet store with your mother.
In California
we grow grapes in the desert.
Music keeps the time.
At least the birds are not bored.
It’s all the same, dirty wing over nameless tree.
I have never known meditation to make any person
more tolerable to others.
You must love your misery.
You must feast upon it.
I give orgasms to my misery.
My misery is more beautiful when it smiles.
I care about everything Western:
the beach, BDSM, Japanese fashion.
I don’t want to drive through four hours
of farmland.
The exaltation of mediocrity is boring.
My editor wants to tell me
he met the woman who writes poems
about shitting on her husband’s chest.
They seem like nice people.
I am sure she is very nice.
The lymphatic system and humiliation.
These are life’s simple pleasures.
I have no solution to your problem.
I quite liked the mess of it.
You could try elevating your legs.
A personal supply of psilocybin
on top of a cannister of coffee beans.
Don’t warn the houseguests.
Leave it all to fate.
My fate is the melting snow on this stupid mountain.
My fate is a tingling clitoris.
I’m an ugly little bush
on a hill by the highway.
A bee buzzing little warfare in my ear.


Jessica Abughattas is from California. Her debut book, Strip (University of Arkansas, October 2020), is the winner of the 2020 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize selected by Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara. A Kundiman fellow, her poems appear in Waxwing, Redivider, Best of the Net 2019, and other places. She lives in Los Angeles.


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