Close Encounters by Jessica Baran


The constitution is pretty clear beyond the emissions test: follow the reports of who’s best in show and
who’s a late-night comic’s nightmare. She revealed certain generational rifts among women, sounding out
a musical message tapped out on toddler’s chimes. Bringing the courts back down to earth was not a side-
line fight. Parodies traditionally exaggerate, but he exaggerated himself, rendering him almost comedy-
proof. Here’s what I needed to know at day’s end: disabilities are defenseless; communication systems
fatten; the power grid is a mystical charm. The deal needed to congeal. Did you hear them call people
worse than animals? Release the cache of lawyers. Get notes from all the wives. Here are the moments
that had us cheering and cringing: ladylike jobs, marijuana sales, small-town alien abductions. No, I
won’t run for Senate. Let the river vote first. And make sure to hit me if I smile.

Jessica Baran is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Common Sense (Lost Roads Press, 2016). Her poems and art criticism have appeared in numerous journals, including Flash Art, A Public Space, BOMB and Poor Claudia. With Ted Mathys, she co-curates the 100 Boots Poetry Series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, where she lives.