Picaroon Poetry - Issue #2 - May 2016


Welcome to our second issue of Picaroon Poetry, where we have sideshows and mussels, taxidermy, the many facets of aging, ancient history and current political commentary (albeit in an eerie, off-kilter setting).

Featuring work by Mark J. Mitchell, Angela Croft, Stephen Bone, Kiley Creekmore, Beth McDonough, Demi Cybulski, Kymm Coveney, Kate Hodges, Hilary Hares, Finola Scott, Carol Gloor, Charles W. Brice, AE Stueve, Stephen Daniels, Jovan Jakic, Pru Kitching, Mab Jones, Mary Imo-Stike, Holly Magill, Marilyn Francis, Joanne Key, Faye Boland, Laurie Kolp, Bethany Rivers, and Broc Riblet.

Issue #2

May 2016

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2016 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2016 Kate Garrett

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● May 2016


Mark J. Mitchell

The Shooting Season

Angela Croft

Walter Potter

Stephen Bone

In Pursuance of the Shiny Things

Kiley Creekmore

The Woman they called Stramash

Beth McDonough

Baltic Salt & Pepper

Demi Cybulski

To Me They Are a Homonym

Kymm Coveney

Mussel Memory

Kate Hodges

Party Animals

Hilary Hares


Finola Scott

115 Candles

Carol Gloor

Your Name in the Lake

Charles W. Brice

Strange Baby Days

AE Stueve

He just stopped (blinking)

Stephen Daniels

Remnants of a Quasi-sleepless Night

Jovan Jakic

What’s Not to Like

Pru Kitching


Mab Jones

My Coat with Rainbow Sleeves

Mary Imo-Stike

‘Do you think David Bowie would like my trousers?’

Holly Magill

Boudicca in Bedford Square

Marilyn Francis

The Rat Angels

Joanne Key

Charles Byrne, The Irish Giant 1761-1783

Faye Boland

Teaching in the 21 st Century

Laurie Kolp

The Bargain

Bethany Rivers

Pearl Blue Car

Broc Riblet


Mark J. Mitchell

A trick shooting priest

palms a canary. Swallows it.

Tents brood gaily on the brown lot.

The sword swallower and

dancing bear swap jokes and recipes.

The circus can’t wait

to leave town.

The Shooting Season

Angela Croft

In this, the last of my How To series, we

will consider ways to prepare a pheasant,

satiate the gourmand. It is not a topic

for the faint-hearted so, Violet, you may wish

to leave the hall before I put it to the assembly.

The fowl must first hang by the neck

to tenderize. The process takes longer in winter.

In summer, no trouble, a couple of days will do.

To pluck and gut, wear rubber gloves.

No, it doesn’t matter if they’re not actually

Marigolds, Fay. Start at the rump and grab

the feathers in tufts; a short sharp yank

against the grain, ok? Use a whetted knife

to take his head off clean. That’s right Judith.

Slit the skin up to its ribs. Open up

and hook out his innards. Split its gizzard

like a bag of corn down to the crop. Your overalls

will wash. Now, chop off his scaly feet. Blast

with a blow-torch to remove any stubble

or run him over a gas flame – and you’re done.

Walter Potter

Stephen Bone

An owl professor,

pince-nez on his beak.

A kitten bride, tearful

beneath her veil.

Two duelling squirrels,

cavalier plumed.

How endlessly busy

this after life he made for you.

Walter Potter (1835-1918) was a celebrated taxidermist.

In Pursuance of the Shiny Things

Kiley Creekmore

With pursed lips.

Purse lips?

No, that’s not what I said,

although my purse has swallowed a cat before, and some

shiny lighters from the Pub at the End of the Universe, (no, I

don’t smoke, but you never know when you might need to

start a fire) and ketchup packets (I hate ketchup) for people

that don’t have homes, and plastic silverware wrapped in

plastic (why is everything plastic these days?), although, once

my purse ate actual silverware, and the clanking reduced me

to really quiet walking (because this was before everything

was plastic and I ate at cafes that had real forks that wouldn’t

break if you accidentally stabbed your finger while eating real

biscotti because you forgot to dunk it in your coffee cup that

was not styrofoam), and so many napkins (because I had a

home, but could barely afford rent), but after my purse ate that

cat I was reduced to feeding the purse with tin cans (ah, but it

was nice to hear that clanking again) to feed the cat.

So the cat would purr.

And I guess nobody says pursed lips anymore.

The Woman they called Stramash

Beth McDonough

I suspect Kate’s undiluted words hung in air,

loose-skinned as saithe, lined out to dry

in sunned salt wind, close to Kilearnadil.

Perhaps they caught odd innocents, who silvered in

to sentenced creels she’d bent

from hazel wands. She turned her glare

from other hags, still pinnacled nearby.

Baltic Salt & Pepper

Demi Cybulski

She’s collectivised [to cope] now.

Rampant Individualism via spin cycle,

communally wowing [trying],

Fabric conditioned and state sponsored

with her own pots, pans, boxes marked Me;

Packed up for the good of a concrete colony.

A ride along - adjacently - soon to be,

Staking her claim [content] on Maestro’s

rungless ladder to domestic bliss.

Runoff wetlogged kitty litter, [she’s untrained]

and among his severely baltic smoke and spices,

Maestro opens windows, sings from tobacco pipes,

Shows off other souvenirs of human folly.

To Me They Are a Homonym

Kymm Coveney

Caña,coño. Coño,caña.

The funny en, the elusive

gender. Who knew beer,

not cunts, was feminine?

What you want is a pint:

‘Quiero una caña’

what you ask for is a cunt:

‘Quiero un coño’

Grab the language by the horns,

Own its vowels.

Conquer its cues.

Make those enyes cry uncle.

Stop asking, start demanding.

Go on. Tell that barman:

(A pint, dammit!)

¡Coño! ¡Una caña!

Mussel Memory

Kate Hodges

“Making a romantic dinner for two? What should I serve with it?


Epicurifoodnetwhiteorred.org message board

21 replies. Contrary food wars come to a Boil

“I brought a bottle of red and a bottle of white…”

We rustle up a cork screw from the junk jar-so glad I cleaned it

right before you came.

Raise the cork and throw away

mussels that refuse to open.

Stubborn shut. Can you help?

“Can’t wait to try them.”

We swap plates and laughter

as they slip out of your hands.


“Is it sauce or gravy” you ask

and gently pry the shells apart.

“Tell me the best part of your day...”

But you say nothing and stare off.

“It’s good luck to find a few closed

off.” You have to work a little harder

to get the pearl inside.”

“No, that’s oysters.”

“No, that’s you.”

“Anyway, when you finally separate the shells

you’re supposed to make a wish

and have a taste.”

He holds one up for me to try.

“Close your eyes. Make a wish.

And put the mussel where your mouth is.”

Party Animals

Hilary Hares

I live in a house

that shares a wall.

The sounds are doors and feet

on stairs, a sneeze, a cough, the turn

of a key in a patio door.

I know his name. Five months ago

he moved her in.

As they leave for work I can see

two heads at the edge of the path,

their tyres leave mud on the road.

If the football’s on their mates

come round. If the rugby’s on they sing.

Through the layers of night her voice

has an edge, his a soft restraint.

One summer weekend

when she was away

the lads brought a crate of Becks

and barbequed a six foot plank.

Sometimes the doors are slams,

the feet on the stairs are a train.

The remains of the plank

lie propped against the fence.

At the quick of dawn the walls are thin.

She says: No. Don’t.


Finola Scott

When folk moan about growing old

metal hips and peeing pants

I think of my new settee.

The style boutique called it

a ‘love seat’.

I didn’t think so

imagined scoffing scones

curled up happy

in soft slippers.

But you thought differently

that rainy Saturday.

Home from the washed up Mela

we sprawled and rocked

smoothing old wrinkles, making new

fumbling folds in familiar corners.

The roomy seat cradled our cavorting.

Who would have thought –

sticky and sweaty at sixty?

115 Candles

Carol Gloor

They give a party for the alligator,

the oldest one known, complete

with a lemon sheet cake bristling

with candles. They sing Happy Birthday.

He never moves, shows no interest in the cake.

He wants to eat the leg of the singing woman.

She wants to pet his gnarls

and whisper him good words about

the world he lived through and animal rights,

just like when we hug sequoias,

rub against their rough backs,

knowing they lived at the fall of Rome.

He knows nothing: only dark, then light,

then dark, the taste of their fed meat

turning bland on his tongue.

It’s something to be the oldest of your kind,

even if you don’t know.

He stares at them with the blank

eyes of all reptiles.

He would run away if he could.

Your Name in the Lake

Charles W. Brice

I wrote your name in the lake

then my name,

our son’s name,

our daughter’s name,

then the universe’s name,

then god’s name

in the lake. I swam

in our names, dove

below and felt how cool

our names were, how fresh

when our surface cracked.

I wrote your name on the brow

of your budded green profusion,

the leaf you became

stout, proud, frim—

how you trembled.

The season you had was grand

then gilded, crinkled, beldame,

you dropped

weary winds

blown undisclosed


I breathed your name

over snail, slug, toad and turtle

their days spent

from spore to tadpole to crick scum

the abundance of life

in your name

in every writhing arroyo

of your body.

Strange Baby Days

AE Stueve

A chubby pink baby sits, giggling

as a stream of green

feathers babbles


his feet.

He looks up at an ant

standing over him, saying,

“See the blue moon,”

and he does.

And the light is on, then off, then on.

And the rocks are like pillows that smell of pestilence.

And the end is always near, wearing a sign around his

neck that shouts,


And the sky dances; it’s in a club, shaking the ground

and changing,

morphing like a ranger.

A box of gray crayons falls,

and the baby laughs as he scribbles on the walls.

He just stopped (blinking)

Stephen Daniels

He was a genius,

that’s how they always described him,

able to order an Indian

takeaway with the smallest of thought,

he turned to answer

the quickest of questions with the sharpest

of movements,

his legs tripped over the air, his arms saved his genius

but not his knees,

I knew him before and he was regular, a packet

of crisps, he was crunchier

than the average bhaji, which is why he avoided the markets,

he sold his right arm

to a cheese-maker, who refused to smell it first, he started

every sentence

with an exclamation mark and finished each with a slur,

his father was known

for his train-like movement, he left yesterday two hours early,

he started writing this poem

in his sleep, when he lived – he wanted to grow trees,

when he got young

he wanted to eat greens, sometimes when no one was watching

he stopped.

Remnants of a quasi-sleepless night

Jovan Jakic

10 of August – 11 of August (11:56pm – 3:00am)

I lost a watch upon my desk

In puddle of the midnight wine

I fuelled myself with when I thought

How these words could be mine.

There is a screw upon the edge

That's sliding through the drooping sea

Of spleen I spilt last night I heard

A song on MTV.

And there's a paper wet with grease

Of lunch I shared with summer flies

I care not, for there I just wrote

Two bleaching lies.

Beside that mess, my moonlit hand

In break of day melts down to steel;

Before I wake I'll have no touch

With which to feel.

When I awake my heart will leap,

The screw will fall, the words will fade,

And my molten hand shall rise again

From a sunbaked shade.

This morning I will find my watch

And make it sing a lullaby,

So that I'll sleep before the time

For me begins to die.

What’s Not to Like

Pru Kitching

This morning I

could have a lie in,

didn’t need to go out in the snow

or share my toast and marmalade.

I could turn around without tripping,

push back my chair without checking.

This afternoon I

don’t need to go out in the wind,

can eat the whole bag of sugar snaps

must not play tug

or Febreze the sofa

the bed, the car, the rugs.

This evening I’ll

sit and watch telly

without an eye on the time,

not do a late night trudge

and come back soaking wet

having missed the last of the programme.

Tonight I

will eat more cheese than usual

need not tuck you in and kiss you

remove your collar

will deep-sleep myself back

into yesterday or the day before.


Mab Jones

Written after a visit to Llandough Psychiatric Unit

Your mind, like blown glass,

has cracked.

They have taped up

what they can. Only a few

fragments are missing.

In the tea room,

an older woman in tight jeans brags about how

you give her bear hugs.

In the hallway, a girl

is pulling herself toward the door,

on the floor. Ragdoll thin,

her hair streams behind her

like a wedding veil.

You are bearded. A young prince.

Dandruff confettis your shoulders

as you hold court.

You are popular here.

It is Sunday, and I am your fifth visitor.

You tell me you love me.

You want to show me your poems but

they are in the older woman’s room.

I see two people I know:

a sex offender I taught to write haiku;

a well-to-do woman

I need to invoice for work.

You put sugar in my coffee,

forgetting that I do not

take it.

You kiss me. I kiss back.

I am let out and walk past traffic,

keep walking until

I don’t know where I am.

You drink tea. Set up pieces

on a board game

you do not know how to play.

My Coat with Rainbow Sleeves

Mary Imo-Stike

I pick up the many partial skeins of yarn around my house

to knit a coat that is the story of my life

the best way I can tell it.

I make no attempt to bind dropped stitches from unravelling,

they are my ragged reflection, my stubborn stand-in

for beauty.

The big hole in my center is where my unnamed baby,

given up, fell through, roughly pulling pieces

of my body’s stuffing out with him.

The sleeves are rainbows

miles long, and wide as sunrise.

Their colors paint my portrait,

my flushed rose cheeks and blue bruised lips

memories of black cherry blood;

the ochre and cream of innocence,

like the shades of a daisy chain that was my childhood,

green ache of first love

and the depths of purple pain.

Some mornings I pull the ample collar

over my head and walk faceless

into town.

‘Do you think David Bowie would like

my trousers?’

Holly Magill

This was two summers back, when he might’ve

smiled at her (somewhat bland) beige slacks,

invited her to join him at his table,

listened to her go on about the Spiderman film

she’s seen half a dozen times without paying

– she knows a door at the back of the Odeon –

had he happened to be in Costa,

the one by the taxi rank in Worcester.

Or he might’ve been non-plussed

to be nobbled by this crazy-lady, minus cats

or a flat she’d tell him – the Housing people

won’t talk to her after that last trouble,

but she can get in

the Odeon any time she wants;

Spiderman 2 is great, he should see it.

That Thursday afternoon, he was otherwise engaged;

I said I thought he would like her trousers very much.

Boudicca in Bedford Square

Marilyn Francis

There was this girl

she was always going ‘down the Roman’


Other times she worked up West

messengering papers between the houses

and cobbled-together offices of Bedford Square.

I knew her for a while

when Bow and Roman Road

seemed so authentic, so romantic

the market stink, Kelly’s pie and mash

the horror of green liquor. A real

kitchen sink drama in production.

This girl, she never felt cold.

Even when it was taters, brass monkeys

she’d saunter about in her cotton frock

as if it was springtime. That girl, she had red hair

and a fuck-you look in her eyes. I bet she went

‘down the Roman’ in a chariot.

The Rat Angels

Joanne Key

grant sanctuary to shadows.

They welcome outcasts –

those threadbare ghosts

and fleabags that roam

in your head, nosing the decay.

You curse their dirt, their runs

and footprints. Shiver

at the thought of them.

But on the way home

from a never-ending bad day,

they’re the ones that throw

a dead mouse into your path:

body splayed, spatchcocked,

flattened in a boot print, opening

at the seams. And as you side step

the unholy mess, walk on

to the verge of forgetting,

the Rat Angels cast a thread,

stitch an odd thought to the back

of your head of a scruffy old

woman slipping her coat off,

to reveal another woman, shiny

and pink underneath,

laughing until her sides split.

Charles Byrne, The Irish Giant 1761-


Faye Boland

For two shillings, six pence

I sell myself, The Irish Giant.

Frockcoated gentleman

in knee breeches, silk, frills,

three cornered hat. The price

will get cheaper yet.

On swollen feet I entertain crowds

in the stench of haymarket.

Through a smog of whiskey, gin

I watch their eyes reach my navel,

heads loll back, mouths gape.

I am courted by king and queen,

nobility. While I sup in a tavern

afflicted with consumption,

pickpockets rob my fortune.

Preying doctors, wait to pounce

on my cadaver when I expire.

In school I drooled, shunned

by peasant pupils who called me freak.

In death I still am this. My corpse purloined,

flesh is boiled, my plea to be buried at sea

ignored. A glass case exhibits gargantuan

bones but my soul sails.

Teaching in the 21 st Century

Laurie Kolp

everywhere there are teachers

who hide and cry in bathrooms

while defiant six-year-old kids

draw stick figures with dicks in vaginas

there are teachers everywhere

who map out escape plans

should a shooter appear

from the womb

and after the tears become salt on lips

The Bargain

Bethany Rivers

The cellar is well lit and extends

the length and width of the house.

How much for this one? – he asks me.

I raise an eyebrow at him. I raise my clipboard,

hold the nib of my fountain pen to my lips.

I’ll add it to the inventory – is all I say.

Each cell once stored 425 bottles

of dearest wine. But not anymore.

What do you call this one? I ask.

Without looking at me, he says – Drowned Syrian Refugee.

Bronze statue of a man with most of his

torso missing, a broken suitcase, water lapping

above his head. Why Syrian?

He nods at the plaque showing the date.

Ah. 2016. Indeed. It was a fine year.

I tap the five inches of glass with the end of my pen.

The water ripples into the eye sockets.

What about this one then? This must be worth something.

I follow his perspiring trail to the end cell. I can’t quite

make out what it is at first. Sculpted ice capped mountain?

I peer closer, steaming up the glass. Three naked women

their hands reaching, pyramid-like. I raise

my eyebrow: What does this represent? He looks down

at his polished shoes – The Three Muses. A baby is falling

from the ripped womb of each woman. One baby is stuck

in a mini wheelchair created from paint brushes;

one is deformed, stunted arms of carved crotchets,

legs broken into quavers; the largest baby

has an oversized head and a hole

in his chest with his heart hanging out.

Will this cover the whole thing? You can

save me, right? Undo everything?

His tone of voice needles my nerves.

I slide the fountain into my top pocket

and place the clipboard under my arm.

When will I know? When will I find out?

I can hear the panic in his voice. I try not to smile.

Pearl Blue Car

Broc Riblet

As I drove to work an older man

in a BMW Z4 kept unintentionally

cutting me off.

I made a point to pull up beside

him and linger for a second

with the purpose of catching eye


Well he never looked over but from

his pleasant face, his bushes of white

hair around his ears, and his

straw hat panning the sun –

I am compelled to think that he

earned that car and he earned his

smooth ride.

I also thought of yelling

“Hey man if I crash my

Kia Optima, I'm going from

28 years old to infinity on

the pavement.”

And to prove our equality

“Hey man if you crash

your BMW Z4 you're going

from 65 years old to infinity

on the pavement.”

And we would nod at each

other and keep driving


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