Scission | Janice Lee

after all that
we ended up with the right one
tilt back towards the sunrise
and when you sound out
the function
with your mouth
trace amounts of time
will vivify

place one fruit or vegetable
at each end
of the ruler

the witch’s prophecy
is unexpectedly tactile

should we move around some more?

the light
of attention

the purpose
of coming together

take away what you are able
that feeling in the bowels
caused only by the irritation of
my tummy is upset
she said
my heart is upset
she said
I am upset
she said
the seed of a bald cypress tree
in my left pocket
throws everything off balance,
it tells me that it was all off before
and teaches me how to restore it,
even if just for a moment

when I reach the entrance
of my middle world
there is a fire burning
I sit beside it
and wait for my healed state to appear
many approach
and with each arrival
I think, yes
you are the one
bear, crow, elephant, snail, badger, whale
even Worf appears
and I wave him away
you don’t belong here
as I stare into the fire
I try to breathe
and practice patience
and presence
and then the glint of a hawk’s eye
and the hawk’s gaze
and my mother’s ghost inside the hawk inside myself
I report back
the hawk
but what my teacher asks is
who is the fire?

I wonder about the labor
of worms

clip out an example
quivering breathing
make some incision
some arbitrary cut
after you recall that this story begins with one
there goes another one

here is the present
this scission
this zest

unclench the teeth
quivering breathing
a false entrance
we can cover only what was said today

of the rock with holes
in the center of my earth painting?

I crossed the threshold once
and then, I couldn’t breathe

unmap and vivify

contact: a touch against time

of the surface, of the darkened-dark below
beneath my feet?

person moving
(there’s no escape)
of distance
say, of distance

will you wait in line for me?

of separation anxiety
anxiety exists because separation exists
(or doesn’t)
my hand is reaching for your back

the arrogance of problem-solving

what we all fear
at the core
is the loss of love & merging

where does all your shit go?

the disadvantaged cow
is happy to see you

are you aware of your own regressions
of when you are not fully present
how to say tomorrow
in the language
of yesterday

Janice Lee is a Korean-American writer, editor, publisher, shamanic healer, and author of seven books, most recently: Imagine a Death (The Operating System, 2021) and Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books, 2022). She is Founder & Executive Editor of Entropy, Co-Founder of The Accomplices, and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Portland State University. “Scission” is an excerpt from Separation Anxiety. She can be found online at