Into every life, a bit of noir must fall. And if it doesn’t, maybe you are not just having enough fun. Supernoir, Jessie Janeshek’s latest chapbook is homage to noir in all of its vagaries. The cover photo, platinum blonde, Sixties-style, with the length of a silver gun pressed against her pouted lips, while her eyes, heavily made up, and impassive, is the perfect entrée into the poems within.
These poems are sexy and dangerous, something your mother might send you to your room for, making you want to transgress all over the damn place. This is female freedom, with a shade of intrigue, a heavy brocaded curtain of desire, a padded bra and an ashtray full of lipsticked cigarette butts, while the sun both shines and burns, relentlessly.
On the page the poems are gorgeous in their irregularly spaced lines, and they are gorgeous in the reading, too. The space allows the poems to gasp a bit, taking short shallow breathes, before the words and images begin to take hold , shrouded in the backdrop of cigarette smoke and wicked desire, until the breathing is heavy and hard. The build up in Janeshek’s poems is quite satisfying and before you know it—BAM! Baby Noir, Crass begins: I was a girl/ or a hunting trophy and ends with/ Tell me I’m pretty/or clowny or grisly/or stuffed with sawdust./Just don’t make me piss out my drink.
Who is the character in these poems, the noir babe smoking, wearing a bikini, languid in the sun that never seems to quit? Do these poems imagine or exemplify the shadow side of all female desire, begging to see the light of day? Janeshek, whether intentional or not is most amazing when she gets to the great taproot of lust on the wrong side of desire, desire that does not need love, but only red-hot desire in return. Peroxide blondes, emery board knives, lipsticks with names like BEAM, ripped jeans and bleach are a glimpse into this noir world, and that is not all. Danger lurks in these poems and one can almost hear the black and white film and see the dust motes in its strong, white light. Eventually our eyes adjust to the jumpy images, the beautiful pouty mouth uttering words that have the effect of a delicate foot with brightly painted toenails sizzle under the black tar of a endless July afternoon.
Some noir girls just want to have fun. Some noir girls are afraid, but they take long drags on their cigarettes and spread their legs in the back of vans anyway. Some noir girls are both desperate and jubilant at the same time. Some noir girls are just trying to live the life:
You tire of black exoskeletons/want your hair white/like Judy Jetson’s. /Your sleep is denial/in the nymph stage/a weak heart/a bad cough/a Jean Harlow death double. /The sun is an animal/and what can it mean/when you exit the crime scene untouched?
Supernoir is like smeared Vaseline over a long-view lens trained into the dark corners of rooms where things go down: it’s real and raw, with the edges blurred out for effect---and in all the right places.
By Jessie Janeshek
Grey Book Press, 2017