Picaroon Poetry - Issue #1 - March 2016

Picaroon Poetry is a new web journal for rogue poems. Issue #1 includes work by Orooj-e-Zafar, iDrew, Shane Vaughan, David Spicer, Susan Castillo Street, Neil Fulwood, Brett Evans, Amy Kinsman, Dean Rhetoric, Johanna Boal, Carole Bromley, Alyson Miller, Robert Crisp, Chris Hemingway, Rachel Nix, Jennifer A. McGowan, Bethany W Pope, Grant Tarbard, Hannah Pyne, Marilyn Hammick, and Mary Stone.

Picaroon Poetry is a new web journal for rogue poems.

Issue #1 includes work by Orooj-e-Zafar, iDrew, Shane Vaughan, David Spicer, Susan Castillo Street, Neil Fulwood, Brett Evans, Amy Kinsman, Dean Rhetoric, Johanna Boal, Carole Bromley, Alyson Miller, Robert Crisp, Chris Hemingway, Rachel Nix, Jennifer A. McGowan, Bethany W Pope, Grant Tarbard, Hannah Pyne, Marilyn Hammick, and Mary Stone.


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Issue #1

March 2016

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2016 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2016 Kate Garrett

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● March 2016

Re: “Find what you love and let it kill you.”




Marrow Mouth

Shane Vaughan

Leona and Keats

David Spicer


Susan Castillo Street


Neil Fulwood

My Mother the Barmaid Never Said There’d Be Nights

Like This

Brett Evans

What’s Thirty-Two and Eight?

Amy Kinsman

Baby We’re So Cliché It’s Cliché

Dean Rhetoric

Imagining Mona Lisa in the 21 st Century using a


Johanna Boal


Carole Bromley

The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes

Alyson Miller

Church of Puppetry

Robert Crisp

Forecourt Carnations

Chris Hemingway

Exit Strategy

Rachel Nix


Jennifer A. McGowan


Bethany W Pope

A November Book Burning

Grant Tarbard

Keeping Mum

Hannah Pyne

Desert Island Things

Marilyn Hammick

[Jennifer Walks the River]

Mary Stone

Re: “Find what you love and let it kill



I will find what I love

and let it play hopscotch on the midline cliffs

of my vertebrae; I will let it turn around

to my front and slide down my tailbone

so it has lived like a child

before it sheds memories in the shape

of victories feeling like anything but.

I will find what I love and let it decide

how long her braids must fall and where

his ankles need to be fastened to his sneakers;

I can wait till both their rabbit ears

find their looping better halves.

I will find what I love and let it breathe

before I can admit the full deficit of my proprioception

and the terms I made with it. I will let it live,



and then surrender

just until its admission leaks onto its lying lips,

“I have wanted to end you,” as if the shock

will shift my tectonic paradigm.

I will roll pebbles onto my back for it and whisper,

before the waves wax and wane to their end:

“Loving is consuming in the way fire makes

bodies fly. Watch how you made me soar,

watch how we have lived,

watch how we have grown,

and let go.”



my dearest elizabeth returned

home from manchester disappointed that

the hacienda had closed

something to do with new factory acts

she had only gone for

a few new tracks and

some of doctor johnson’s vocabulary pills

but alas it was not to be

so she was back home with me in

the candle gloom doing girly things

playing with our hair needlepoint and

giggling without a care

we had drunk three bottles of tesco’s cider

fantasising that if lord nelson was still alive

he would capture for us a small island

conceivably he could invade ibzia in a

day or even in his lunch hour then sit back

with a brandy soaked laugh and a big fat cigar

studying nouveaux riche investment portfolios

with which we could build space and passion

in the creamfields

for fun in the sun away from our routines

of tedious teas and charity deeds

to a place where we could step out

and be truly carefree

not stuck in smokey london playing charades

in rhythm with grime

Marrow Mouth

Shane Vaughan

As if you are a three course meal

bottle of the black grape to boot

and hadn't I my fill years ago

As if I can't taste the sour

on the edge of your tongue

when I order you rare

As if waiting makes a difference

was it six months since last

we took each other out

As if you haven't cooked

in all this time and

we're still dining each other.

As if there's more meal

in the dry-bone sucking

mouth to the marrow.

Marrow into lung

that's us, babe.

Perhaps tonight I'll

order something exotic.

Leona and Keats

David Spicer

My girlfriend Leona was so obsessed

with Keats she wrote her thesis

on the probability of his tasting

watermelon and wearing suede jackets.

Memorized all of his poems and composed

the answers for the Keats category

on Jeopardy. She never received

a doctorate because she ignored

her questioners, failed to referee herself.

I couldn’t stomach them so I scrambled

out of there, she told me. Later a model

for shampoo and crocodile bags,

she wrote guidebooks to the prettiest

palm trees in California. She encouraged

me to construct parables, purge demons,

and worship forefathers. Listen, history

is a convoy of dump trucks driving over

a succession of manholes, she told me

one day with a bounce in her glazed voice.

She laughed at my droopy eyes. By the way,

I’m leaving. That woke me up. I suddenly

realized nobody can replace Keats, so I’m

going to visit his grave and sleep on it.


Susan Castillo Street

Take two pounds of Florida oranges.

Peel, then segment carefully. Add a tale

from Aunt Cecile about her bastard husband Jack

who ran off with that floozy from the Coast.

Then take one coconut. Hurl its hairy head

against the floor. It will burst open, just like

the head of Janie’s husband Number One

who put a pistol to his mouth.

Grate white snowflakes into a crystal bowl.

Presentation will be enhanced with a few drops

of knuckle gore. They will accent the flavor,

add a touch of pinkish elegance.


Neil Fulwood

Strike up the band – play something finger-snapping jazzy,

something swinging, snazzy, something sharp-suit

and swirled-skirt sassy, shot through with Bernstein cool.

Give me great blurts of brass bathed in the bronze burnish

of 1950s Technicolor, and brother play that slide trombone

like “slide” is a double entrendre that brings out blushes.

Set loose the shimmerings of a string section strung out

on extra-curricular considerations of seductive scenarios

inspired by certain brunettes on Herb Alpert album covers.

Rescue some pill-pepped percussionist from a bum job

firing rim shots that underline the vaguely lewd punchlines

of a corpulent comedian with a mother-in-law fixation.

Slap the lot of them in tuxes; configure their starched collars

with dickie-bows or string ties; bring them under the baton

of a band leader with a gimlet eye and a taste for the limelight;

arrange them on the raised section of horseshoe-shaped stage

groaning under their collective weight, then snap on

the Kleig lights, beams fogged by Saturday night tendrils

of a thousand slow-burning cigarettes. Add to the fuggy haze

the out-of-place chalk dust of the pool hall as well as

the familiar tang of martinis and Singapore slings. Ask for a tab

at the bar. They can only say no and probably won’t. Drop

the name of someone disreputable and see how far it gets you.

Say the right word to the hat-check girl and the wrong one

to the guy in the homburg. Or vice versa. You’re in for

an open palm or a smack in the kisser and you’ll either

be barred or a hero to the regulars. The French have a word

and it roughly translates as something unprintable. Roll

with it. Shoot your cuffs, straighten your collar. Flick open

a matchbook, strike a light with a nail. The night is yours

or tonight you’re alone. Doesn’t matter. The band’s killing it

and the music was written to pin down every solitary drink

or lucky manoeuvre that’s defined your life from the cradle

to wherever. These guys are your biographers, buddies,


they pardon your hangovers, bar bills, black eyes; permit

your Runyonesque dialogue on the theme of this man’s town.

My Mother the Barmaid Never Said

There’d be Nights Like This

Brett Evans

It’s nights like this you expect that heart attack,

as pipes announce the lungs of the house collapsed.

The body shakes and sweats and sweats and shits,

trumping Christ – your skidded Turin sheets.

Busy as the arse has been, the brain reflects

on friends, drink, individual lovers, then sex;

the need for skin on skin, a tattooed shoulder.

Your own breast tightens, heartbeats may go no further.

Your ‘fuck-it list’ completed, but now you’re dead

eternity won’t bring one hour of Bessie Smith,

Sweet Emma Barrett, or Tampa Red.

What’s Thirty-Two and Eight?

Amy Kinsman

I am Girl #32.

He is Boy #8.

The count, for him, is summoned instantly to mind

the numerals climbing like an ever growing mountain

its features changing each occasion you should look back

at the landmarks made insignificant,

just specks in the distance marking where you were.

I will get there too, in time,

and to say it started tonight would be a lie

just as I will be the lie of omission he does not tell

to the elephant in the room just outside of London.

What number does he give her?

Is it honest, as it may as well be,

for we are fixed points to one another’s movement?

Once you begin to add cinnamon and oranges

and the bite of tequila,

presumption is just simple mathematics.

What’s thirty-two and eight?

A question free of nuance that opens up its arms

to an easy answer

on a sheet of primary school homework:

fill in what’s missing.

He does not tell me I have beautiful thighs

or not to reference my own poems in my poetry.

He does not prise my fingers from my face

and wraps his arms about me like this

is where his body always fits.

So I tell him about six,

how the number brands me and still aches

because the mark goes deep

and we exchange these numbers in the gap

between mouth and ear:

her body bent first in supplication, then in prayer;

the closing of thumb and forefinger

around my throat,

holding all the words in me.

We are not who we were four years ago,

of course we were less then,

and he would not have dreamt of the graphs

his fingers are tracing over the skin of my back

nor I the equal of the scar

on the right hand side of his abdomen.

I hope he will remember my name

if only for the algebra of it

that differentiates down to a three and a two

the way he becomes an infinity

nailed sideways to a half-closed door.

He says he will be back

but I’m not sure he means it.

Fermat’s Last Theorem

for men and women:

the calculation works

but for what reason?


counting on my fingers

like I’m a child again,

I realise my maths is wrong

and, as always, I have lost one.

He is Boy #9.

Baby We’re So Cliché it’s Cliché

Dean Rhetoric

Me and the Cliché, Leaving love codes on bank vaults,

fresh bread breath kisses, lick picking through padlocks,

Disguising ourselves as clouds on Halloween and

hocking spitsies at the meanie kids

Cliché and I. Liberating all the unloved animals,

killing hitchhikers, pickpocketing pulses and waving dead skin

at passing cars.

Homemade clothes, turtle shell ties and wet paper towel tights

singing hillbilly poetry on the porch

Lazy Sunday activities with cliché, throwing fake limbs

into privately owned parks,

hysterical laughter and violence, arguing over the difference


roses and skulls, falling over for attention,

holding hands between mouthfuls of innocent bystanders.

Coffee tastes better with cliché,

inventing a secret language and

proving its diameter.

Mixing breakfast cereals,

getting sued. Cold calling the Illuminati at sleepovers

to ask if their eye is running, kicking the living

sugarpop out of me, inspecting the fluoride for government


Sweet Cliché, cheering on the fat man

running for the last midnight train,

surrounding him when he doesn’t

screaming hillbilly poetry on the porch

sucking all the light from stars

and proudly watching her

flower children


Imagining Mona Lisa in the 21 st Century

using a SmartPhone

Johanna Boal

Texting Leonardo, Mona added me in.

She wanted to know why he painted her in colours

and on paper made from a poplar tree.

But not always coping with the predictive text

this is what it said

lok ike in a smoky rume, grim depre-seive colors

a slummy backdrop. leo you maek lok I’m

reeking of alcohol with rats & in the gutter

My hair loks lank with that blak veil

why r mye eyes swollen & cheeeks p..ale?

LEooo, you’ve mee in Squarwlor.

I text her back- You are priceless Mona

Mona tells me I’m saved to her favourites.

Her screen saver has a picture of Florence.


Carole Bromley

He went out for the morning

so she could have the playgroup mums round

for an Ann Summers event.

He thought of himself as broad-minded,

secretly hoped she'd splash out

on something crotchless

but was taken aback on glancing

through the lounge window to see

six vibrators racing across the hearth rug.

The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes

Alyson Miller

Their parents blamed a toxic conspiracy, something about

chemicals creeping through the bedrock like a stain. Claimed

it must be under the football field, poisons triggered by

cheerleaders and runners punctuating the earth with the

regularity of typewriters and bird song. Experts held the

mystery as far away as continents, spitting out scripts for

antibiotics and hysteria like seeds and broken teeth. On the

television, the girls jerked as though possessed, necks and

faces pulled hard into alien angles, voices annexed by unreal

things. And the symptoms spread like a haunting, an enigma

of muscle and some cerebral ghost that eluded X-rays and

journalists and psychiatry. The small town, nervous of the

water table and porous quarry rocks, shuttered down as tight

as an eyelid. And the girls, locked in their rooms and skins,

searched night skies and the patterns of leaf falls for some

hint of return.

Church of Puppetry

Robert Crisp

It’s a sin to disrespect Ernie, you know,

he said to me in cloistered, choir tones.

The Muppet on Sesame Street? I balked,

ready to be rid of this charlatan parading

about in sequins and sashes, his mouth

a jagged cut, the Joker on angel dust.

The very one, he intoned and knocked

over the censer, reeking up the joint.

Muppets aren’t above reproach, I say,

and that includes Bert, Oscar, all of them.

He looked at me with what he hoped

were eternal eyes but were just half-infinity

contacts on sale in Heaven’s gift shop.

Deep below, he could have saved a buck

and taken the Devil’s horn-rim glasses

but he was too focused on felt to care.

Forecourt Carnations

Chris Hemingway

I'm a 'just-in-time',

an impulse buy.

Tesco half a mile away.

Stashed in a black plastic bucket,

just beside the solar gnomes.

I fear the worst if he takes me home,

trampled underfoot,

or thrashed across his stubborn jaw.

But if she lets me stay,

then there'll come a morning

when the light won't catch the crystal hare

(a troubled gift from Dave at work)

and I'll bloom,

and she'll forgive him,

and that'll make me smile.

Exit Strategy

Rachel Nix

Three months is my average; rarely

do I last any longer playing the role

of lover. I’ve dared myself to resist

the urge to leave, but it goes against

my truths. When lust-minded hands

turn to watchful eyes, I try to decide

if it’s worth it to be wanted for more

than late hours. Men begin to see me

as someone to bring home, to occupy

their houses. I find the exits too easily.


Jennifer A. McGowan

The slice through clean skin:

rivulets of red, your favourite colour,

branch over my chest in

echoes of your fingertips. Severed

nerves go into shock; pain and

tears will come later, and will

pass. It’s absence I can’t bear,

the whiteness of lack. You will

make your mark. I reach into

the urn, pull out a handful of

grey, rub it into the cut.


Bethany W Pope

You were wounded, demented, a bad little girl,

Grinning as you slid your fingers into me.

I never thought I'd catch myself praying for your soul

After you told me that, now, I could never be loved. My small

Body was a canvass for your vengeance;

You were wounded, demented, a bad little girl

Still angry at your mommy for selling you to tall,

Grown men whose cocks (you said) tasted like pee.

I never thought I'd catch myself praying for your soul

When, years later, you let your filthy orange urine fall

Into my mouth as you used your woven belt to choke me.

You were wounded, demented, a bad little girl,

And I was unsurprised when I learned you'd landed in jail,

Though the crime they nailed you for was unrelated to rape.

I never thought I'd catch myself praying for your soul,

When I spent the night vomiting after giving my all

Attempting to pleasure the man that I love, but this is true:

You were wounded, demented, a sad little girl

And I just caught myself praying for your soul.

A November Book Burning

Grant Tarbard

We have bare hands and

don't bear arms against

the burning of books,

libraries of ash,

ignoring rubble.

You can hear the ghosts

whispering in the

overhanging trees,

a lighthouse of blood

and a songbird's sigh.

Charcoal breath kernel,

all the red roses

are crisp, and all the

pages are bred for

the hand of soil that

accompanies death,

an embryo of

dark blue light, midnight's

child is made from dusk

black spiders and hair

clogged down the drain. The

porcelain morning

is a stag rutting

for the attention

of the bullet Moon.

The wild flowers are

slain with the soot of

pages, shelves in flame.

The burning of books,

omit the powder.

Keeping Mum

Hannah Pyne

She whistled and they came;

Rita Hayworth in a home-made bikini.

Now she wears clothes she’d hate,

fed food she’s never liked,

spoken to in a way that makes me

want to thrust The Times crossword

at them and say See! She can do it.

She sits in a knitted hell, smiling

at old photos, touching the moment

before it disappears beneath the blanket.

Desert Island Things

Marilyn Hammick

to view, not to use

A felt coaster for the taste of sunrise Guatemala,

afternoon Earl Grey, sunset Château Ausone.

That length of dowel left lying around for years

to conduct Bach, Beethoven and Basie.

One seam ripper, blunt enough to undo most

relationships and leave the fabric intact.

My Dad’s bradawl, from his Dad, to recall

the holes in the spaces between the lines.

A chipped soap dish for moments that slid

through my fingers, through lack of attention.

Red Cross Charity bookmarks to indicate

where words leaked into the page margin.

A slide rule with all its dust so once again

I can forget why logarithms are important.

One candle holder splattered with wax

to understand the ragged scar.

[Jennifer Walks the River]

Mary Stone

The meth reminds her to hem her skirt,

that her skin is like the moon

in November when all the men go outside

and wait on their porches for a leisurely frost.

The men with belts and buckles and tattoos,

who fight wasps deep into the winter

to show her what they are willing to lose

for her pain. She heads to 8 th Street

where brick rots, where the river

reclaims its ruin. Sometimes her body

remembers the sky at dawn, but mostly

remembers men reaching for her

from the fires, the swirl of dead fish

rotting in her hands, her numb lips.

The mist of the river tastes of blood and semen.

At the dock the men appear,

waving and holding onto their hats.

She can see the wind, palms its song

when she finds a lone penny

and pretends she is home.

For writer biographies / web links, please see

the ‘Contributors’ page on our website.

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