Tell Me Yesterday

Jennifer L. Collins

Tell Me Yesterday

I expected the moon
            (to have fur, gray and luminous to be walked on and tripped upon like a carpet drowned and
            then surfaced into something more real than an ocean in this space I’d been promised, soft)
around the planet
            (circling as if on a long, elegant leash I could slide along if desire drew me away. But
            bubbling grit, potions of dust, matted slips and folds caught beneath my feet instead of the
            grace I’d thought to believe in, hard)
like a canine
            (and slick with risk. If I’d expected rose-petal-like-enigmas of ground-grown skin to slice and
            trip into my feet, I’d have brought not boots, but stilts of armor, or gone elsewhere to an
future instead of
            (trusting that this picture might be a lathe built to gentle my future forward without wounds,
            percolating and easy on already marred skin)
being bound to pain.
They promised a possible
            (which I trusted, faithfully as some pet drawn forward in a lapping up of sought justiceto
            land me in a world more steeled than lit, transparency popping in beads of sweat on the land
            as on my hope-)
worlded future
            (and I fell forward into it when I might better have leaped into some warmer risk without
            guard, lathered up for the unknown instead of basking in guilty prognostications that I’d step
            into, on to have them)
only to rip it away.
Regret isn’t a something
            (I make love to when I fall asleep at night. It isn’t a stress ball I toy with in a seam of my
            clothes when untenable breaths seem to unfold from my lungs. It isn’t a bubble I blow from
            my lips in dismissing mistakes or whistling them between the eyelids of others)
to be dealt with
            (on a momentary plain of faith in something else. But with terrored steps on foreign ground
            that was offered as silk and presented as broken up stones grown ragged on dreams like the
            ones dying within my chest, it’s hard.)
And yet, if this
            (landing beneath my feet is the slippered future they thought to offer, that I accepted from
            another side of knowing, the scope of my hindsight is a wonder with a half-life of a million
            years, building in my blood)
as the only choice
            (to feed my future, bloody as regret’s aftermath might serve itself up to be for a naïveté born
            to dream of a better grounding I thought was built for ideals and steps like mine, only to be
            torn into this, which)
is mine then
            (terrible and free, already cutting and working it seems to teach me that along with regret for
            what I should have known, should have questioned, should have doubted so that my plans
            might have been larger than they wished)
my body is my only ground.


Jennifer L. Collins is a tattooed poet and animal lover who grew up in Virginia and has recently relocated to Cape Coral, FL, where she and her husband have five rescues—one neurotic hound, and four very spoiled cats. Her poetry has been published in various journals, such as The Rockford Review, Chelsea, 34th Parallel, Redivider, The PotomacReview, 13th Moon, and Post Poems; she was nominated for a Pushcart by Puerto Del Sol. Her first chapbook, Oil Slick Dreams, is available for sale from Finishing Line Press.

Author’s Comments: As someone who’s never had any desire to go into space, I got to thinking about what it would take for a program to lure me onto a new planet or moon. I didn’t think money would do it, and I’d be just as happy to watch science unfold from afar…but magic and mystery? That might do it. After all, I can watch the moon for night upon night, it looks so magical. But I suspected that, if I were to fly away to some unknown moon, I’d end up regretting it.

Meanwhile, I’m not someone who has much use for regrets, but I’d had a line of poetry sitting around and waiting to be used—one of those lines that comes to you and you jot it down because you know it will be needed somewhere along the way. “Regret isn’t a something I make love to when I fall asleep at night.” That’s not exactly a space-bound image, but somewhere in that idea about being drawn into space, and the idea of wallowing in regret and really feeling it for the first time, “Tell Me Yesterday” was born.

On form: I tend to use this form when I think of a speaker as being stuck in a moment of crisis, unable to really focus on any but the simplest thoughts while, at the same time, their subconscious is spinning into panic.

Editor’s Notes: It seems that there maybe be an embedded poem formed by the un-indented lines.

To capture that magical yet lonely feeling, an alien planet abstract (, with a person in silhouette (, complements the experimental poem.

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