A Poem by Jessica Barksdale

New Episode of Jane the Virgin Available




Mind you, Mary was not the first.

Don’t forget Chimalma who swallowed the stone

that became Quetzalcoatl.

Or Maya, whose elephant dream

turned into the Buddha.

One virgin after the other, episode

upon episode of divine pregnancy,

amazing birth to a god-like child,

the mother disappearing or dying

or sitting back in wonder.

My son. Would you just look at him!

My work here is done.

And here we are, season two,

Jane clinging to her virginity like the plot point

it is, a lifeline to television immortality

and financial gain.

Whatever you do,

don’t write a penis into that scene.




I had no takers until one night just before high school graduation.

There he was, at the party for the whole school,

someone I didn’t know because otherwise, no dice.

Gold in his brown hair, shirt open at the neck, some kind of necklace,

pucca. Or something silver. Coke spoon. Angel flight pants. Or jeans.

The long vinyl bench seat of my mother’s station wagon,

nothing going well, me like a clenched rock, too tight

for even magic to pass through.

But this boy was determined, and he plugged away, and I was swimming,

moving, floating on the seat, bleeding, bleeding, all that blood

from a tiny piece of skin that means so much to countless viewers.

He left, and I sat there, clutching the steering wheel,

looking out into the hazy mooned night,

even though there was nothing to wait for.

My potential miracles ripped open and thrashed in bloody streaks.

Nothing but the rest of my life, and now one less thing to give up.

One step closer to nothing.




Yes to the slash of vinyl gore

and yes to the moon, round and white

on the car’s hood. Yes to the humped

and botched thing that is living,

this crawling beast of mud, looking to heaven.




078A40A2-B49C-4B40-A469-E3C405B43A26Jessica Barksdale’s fourteenth novel, The Burning Hour, was published by Urban Farmhouse Press in April 2016. A Pushcart Prize and Best-of-the-Net nominee, her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in the Waccamaw Journal, Salt Hill Journal, Little Patuxent Review, Carve Magazine, Palaver, and So to Speak. She is a Professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California and teaches online novel writing for UCLA Extension. She holds an MA in English Literature from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the Rainier Writers Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

Learn more about Jessica Barksdale at www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com



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