Jayson Keery


I guess I’m here again. Stomaching the streaks of bleach from past attempts

on this long stretch of laminate lunch top, looking for looks

if not love— but from who.

Well, I’ll tell you— from people who share my gender— and— people who

don’t. What an interesting potential. Apple

orange. Tangerine. What a wild polarity— me and them— somehow worth

noting. To be fruit-cupped in a pedestrian menagerie of sap.

I’ve been tense— ever since 2014 when a man sued Dole, panicked

to find preservatives, acid in his advertised as all-natural fruit. Man, that’s gotta

sting. As far as looks go,

it is true we stay young not forever but longer.

Which is why I’m here. Again at the table, with a new and engorged

lunch box. Do you like it. Bench slide from the stench of banana breath

and I’ll tell you we’re not friends.

Snack time— I’ve always hated this concept of time. Teacher,

don’t you tell me when to carrot. Don’t you tell me when I want

a measured treat. So tense

from the contents of a zip-locked asphyxiation. I want

to use the napkin I saved to wipe sweat from your

carefully cut choices. Me or them.

Ice breaker: Do you prefer certain genitals over others. And why. Why do you

think that is. Because I think

that’s what we’re talking about. After you copy the homework

that I copied first, so now

you want a taste. You want to share my snack, my time, and it’s fine. I blame

the overarching context of cafeteria.

The lunch lady who never asked to be named.

Jayson Keery is a writer, editor, and arts coordinator in Western Massachusetts, where they completed their MFA in poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They are the author of the forthcoming poetry collection The Choice is Real (Metatron Press, 2023) and the chapbook Astroturf (o•blēk editions, edited by Peter Gizzi, 2022). Their work is published and forthcoming in Boulevard, Black Warrior Review, Overheard, The New Guard, b l u s h lit, Peach Mag, and others. They have been anthologized in Nightboat Books' We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics and Pilot Press London's A Queer Anthology of Rage. They are the recipient of the 2022 Metatron Press Prize for Rising Authors, selected by Fariha Róisín, and the 2021 Daniel and Merrily Glosband MFA Fellowship, selected by Wendy Xu. A complete list of publications, awards, and interviews live online at JaysonKeery.com.