Rachel Custer

Self Portrait with God at the End of the World

Everyone I know hopes for a utopia: freedom
as lack of plastic and hard words. A giant hand

pins me to the wood & I am a girl again.
What beauty can be found in struggle –

the desperate dance of limbs, the pinned insectile
prayer. Desire is a god worth trying.

God is a desire worth nodding toward. What
anymore is worth wondering? Something swelling

a red corridor could be music, sacred
in a sacred space, could be the bloom

of a new bruise. How alone are we, here
near the end? Everyone I know hopes

for the same type of dystopia: those million-
dollar views. Statue heads bounding

down famous streets, chasms yawning open
beneath every kind of runner, the perfect

fairness of human fear. A giant hand saves me
from being crushed under the crowd,

and I am a girl again, caught in the trap
of God. Who never knew smallness

until he became a man. What a strange
twisting thing life is: I never knew a man

until I was made small, chasms yawning
open in the street of me. The watchful eyes

of a concrete god winking, winking past me,
the headless body marching into the sea.


About the writer:
Rachel Custer is the Poetry Editor and a reviewer and editorialist at O:JA&L. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Temple She Became, is available from Five Oaks Press. Other work has previously been published or is forthcoming in RattleOSU: The JournalThe American Journal of PoetryB O D Y[PANK], and The Antigonish Review. On February 13, 2019, Rachel Custer became a recipient of a 2019 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Rachel Custer is the poetry editor at O:JA&L.

Image: Still Life No. 11 by Alejandro Rosemberg. Oil on canvas. 23.6 x 39.4 inches. 2009. By permission.

About the artist:
Alejandro Rosemberg is an Argentine fine artist trained by Claudio Bogino in the classical style of the Italian Great Masters. He studied color under Graydon Parrish at the Grand Central Academy of New York. His works are presently being exhibited in the United States and Canada, respectively represented by Principle Gallery in Virginia and White Rock Gallery in Vancouver. Passionate about teaching the techniques he uses, he invests much time and dedication to his drawing and painting classes and workshops held in Brazil, the USA, and Argentina. Rosemberg is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for February 2019.