Spotlight series #91 : Jennifer Hasegawa

rob mclennan
3 min readNov 6, 2023

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.

Author’s statement

My approach to poetry is based on randomness, memory, and emotion. In my case, these things operate and move like a chain.

Until recently, I believed I needed to avoid emotion in my work. This was the source of a huge and frustrating creative block. Now, I start capturing an idea for a poem by writing “Feeling …” If something is there, it flows out. Of course, I still end up removing emotion afterward. Old habits die hard. But at least the idea gets out, and this makes all the difference.

As a child, I had three extremely vivid dreams that I carry with me. I dreamt I had a pet bird. I woke up surprised that its cage was not next to my bed, where it was in the dream. I screamed for my bird and was despondent for weeks. I also dreamt that I’d been shot. I was surprised it didn’t hurt the way I thought it would. It was more heat and burning than cutting. Apparently, this is true? But as a child, I had no way of knowing.

All that said, this poem is based on the third dream I had. I dreamt I was going to marry David Bowie.

The extended release of teen dreams

reunited us
at the
lunch counter

in volumes
of black chemical lace
and a swinging
buttercup suit.

Red & green
cellophane loops
rode toothpicks
stuck through
our club sandwich
of stardust.

Your bowtie
undid itself
and hovered above,
as if a drone.

We ran down the boulevard
the way I thought I would,
before I learned
my station.

I once had the spirit
of a long girl inside:
neck, arms, torso, legs.
I was taught that length
could summon the good life
through rarity
and righteousness.
Then I came
to know my place
through the reactions
of others.
I was a woman,
felled to Earth.

We ducked
into a boutique
for black holes.
I leaned across
melting glass and chrome
to spritz my neck
with the pink liquid
of blow pop amnesia.

The sales clerk presented
a tray of calculators.
You tested
one sparkling machine,
long fingers
blurring across keys
in the calculus
of androgyny.

We’ll take it!

In a rooftop cafe
above an interior city,
we played a game
of little sticks
and heavy paper.

Our warmth
came through
our clothing.

My face went rigid,
cocktail of sleep
leaving. Let’s dance,
you said, grabbing
my hands. The fear
of gray chiffon.

I woke with feathers
of a great blue heron
in each fist.

Jennifer Hasegawa is a poet and information architect. She has sold funeral insurance door-to-door and had her luggage stolen from a plastic surgery clinic in Asuncion. Her manuscript for “La Chica’s Field Guide to Banzai Living” (Omnidawn) won the Joseph Henry Jackson Literary Award, and the collection was long-listed for The Believer Book Award in Poetry. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Bamboo Ridge, Bennington Review, jubilat, Tule Review, and Vallum. Hasegawa was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and lives in San Francisco.