Jacob J. Billingsley :: “Something for Tomorrow” and “Heteronomous Cellulose / Autonomous Skeleton”

Something for Tomorrow

I have been trying to type
but Siri writes “tapestries”

and I picture 
woven tarot cards

I am saving seeds
from a favored plant
but I cannot get them all

on this deck
the wind takes the chaff

and the crows are chanting again
of everything they have gotten

with their beaks in the clay
they talk and talk

clamoring for something
unlike these seeds
in the soil

later this year

chanting again
of everything they have forgotten

so many seeds fallen in my lap
how wonderful-

-ly they adorn me


Heteronomous Cellulose / Autonomous Skeleton

There is a gomphothere stalking somewhere beyond my time just waiting to be pulled from the ground. I ignore yellowing needles for cradle scythes, laying down my numbing magic. None of this should make any sense. There is a kind of echoic laughter that brings the morning down alongside itself. It goes simply “haha.” That is what we call the internet. It’s a kind of metempsychosis but you get to go on living your own life. I put up my duck lips pictures without shame. I mean I wish I could, but still. They are waiting. I learned once about how tusks evolved, that it was not for defense but like the scythe, a blunt instrument to harvest treetops. They are killing some trees to save a prairie and I am proud. I want to be more like that. Stiff embezzlements of life. You take a little for yourself, I mean those around you. The carbon is burnt into the ground. The rotten orange beckons again to me.

“It is a pre-therapeutic culture” one psychologist said to another psychologist, revealing their own heady overconfidence. I mean they are supposed to be real doctors I think, but that was just TV. I am writing because I feel bad not working. Because there is someone working on my behalf. For once it isn’t D—. How do people do this every day, writing I mean not working. There is a guy in the yard. I should be putting my prairie plants in the ground. He is just mowing. But his equipment outmatches mine anyway. Where do they go that they can fit all those big pieces of prose together. Is there some kind of special tool they use.

I read about how cognitive scientists think perceptions of perception are getting out of control. I mean they think that ideas like word processing or whatever are part of the problem. Or like the visual cortex, that there is a lot more involved. The brain doesn’t know what a word is, it’s just a kind of doing. They think we need to derive new categories of thought directly from the data, but that then perhaps we wouldn’t be able to interpret the results. What a conundrum, but who knows, maybe the person who explained all this to me just didn’t do a good job. Scientists are always looking for concepts that don’t exist. Intelligence. Even in the phloem and the slime mold getting together to feast on rotten wood. The whole world is intelligent if anything is. 

At least the man who mowed is not having to dig anything. I hate digging. I miss it. I wish I could decide what to do with all my plants. They are just doing their thing on the deck somewhere beyond my sense of time. Still potted from the half-wild place that sold them. It’s like I know enough but don’t believe it, or that I don’t know enough but I just think I do. The question like so many is undecideable for me. I said yesterday that I was trying to push my mind through jelly and it’s like that but spread out over a longer time. They don’t want to know what kind of tea I am drinking. There is no reasoning with them. I will put it in the compost so they can find it later.


Jacob J Billingsley is a queer poet, worker, and amateur naturalist in Missouri. His performance of H.D.’s “The Garden” was featured in the latest Empty Room Radio anthology. This is somewhere on the internet, which may as well be underground. Look for more work in EcoTheo Review, ANMLY, and Stone of Madness. Find him on Instagram under the name @GatheredIntoArtifice, on iNaturalist at /jajobi, or on cool days with knees down, tending to wildflowers in the yard.