ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: Poetry by Jessica Jacobs

Music—Pink and Blue II

O’Keeffe, with Stieglitz [New York, NY; 1917]


Tonight, I’d paint the world

with a broom


and not be careful

of the floor. Sweep your wife,


your daughter, your any

other women


away. Here,

now, your body


shows me

how to play the notes,


not as written

but as meant


to be played: incantation,

duration, dissolution. Breath,


a circle with two

centers: each


cerulean reservoir; each

a seed syllable—creped bulbs:


vermillion, viridian, byzantium

white. In our hands,


a garden.



Self-Portrait in Absentia


Stieglitz, with O’Keeffe [New York, NY; 1918]


His eye was in him, and he used it on anything nearby. Maybe in that way he was always photographing himself.—O’Keeffe


I see you better than you see yourself.—Stieglitz, in a letter to O’Keeffe; 1918



Part that kimono so it frames you like a stage

curtain. Here, on this stool. Slump a bit.


Let’s take faces out of it. I’ll begin

where your breasts do & end


with your hips. Sag your stomach,

inhale to flatten—no matter;


I control the moment

of exposure. And in my jerry-rigged darkroom


across the hall—while you, in our studio,

remain naked & waiting—I decide


to overexpose the rift

between your thighs, leaving burnt


black absence where a presence

once had been. What lies


in that darkness is mine.


Opening night, I’ll wear you

on my arm; spin you like a child


playing pin-the-tail, with you

on every wall. You deny those faces


could possibly be yours, but

glassed and hung in the gallery


they become you—& you, them.



Composite [Self-]Portrait as Wise Desert Elder


O’Keeffe [Abiquiu, NM; 1976]


I was 32, and she was 79 . . . I took some pictures . . . [then the] game had ended, and I’d won.—photographer John Loengard



All these men

with cameras

in hand,

comparing the length

of their lenses.

I am not twenty-nine


anymore. I am no one’s

wife. I own

and abide in two

houses and inhabit

my face as fully.

In my desert,


I orchestrate

the light, seat

myself beneath

this cow skull.

I need them only

to take the picture.



Georgia O’Keeffe, by Alfred Stieglitz (Composite Portrait)

O’Keeffe [compiling Stieglitz’s early portraits of her into a book, Abiquiu, NM; 1978]


When I look over the photographs Stieglitz took of me—some of them more than sixty years ago—I wonder who that person is. It is as if in my one life I have lived many lives.—O’Keeffe


Tilted black bowler,

white collar just so:

androgynous dandy,

fingers splayed

as any mouth

in amateur soft-core.


It was so much easier

to just disappear. One grows

tired of insisting.


Cowled scowler, arched

brow; propped against

a wooden wall, stuck

with hay and staples.


When we were just words,

I mailed him hasty bundles

of brown wrap and twine.

He shellacked my drawings

with fixative, chided me

a careless mother. But

the instant I gave them

to another’s eyes—even

his—they were no longer mine.


These portrait selves, the same.


Unheaded torso against

diaphanous screen,

pelvic jut and breast,

muscled chest, dark

rivers of thigh.


Public carapace, a surprising

relief. Aquifer-me freed

to branch subterranean.

While, overhead, the clicking

whisper of his acquisitive eye.



Jessica Jacobs’ debut collection, Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe, is forthcoming from White Pine Press in 2015. Poems from this book have or will soon appear in journals including Beloit Poetry Journal, The Missouri Review, Poet Lore, and Redivider. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock climbing instructor, bartender, Editor of Sycamore Review, Acquisitions Editor, and now as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Hendrix College. She lives in Little Rock, AR with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown. (