Picaroon Poetry - Issue #4 - September 2016


Issue #4 has arrived on your shores, this time bringing - amongst other things - murder (of a sort), mayhem (of many sorts), rather interesting bedroom shenanigans (just the one thankfully), and a rather more liberal use of the c-word than we'd usually contain (look away if this offends). CN/TW for child abuse, miscarriage. Features work by Nancy Iannucci, Cathryn Shea, Kevin Casey, Jeffrey Kingman, Ricky Garni, Paul Vaughan, Andie Berryman, Caroline Hardaker, Maurice Devitt, Daniel Roy Connelly, Al McClimens, Grant Tarbard, Meygan Cox, Anna Percy, Matt Duggan, Lizzie Holden, Holly Magill, Evie Worrall, Justin Hilliard, Antony Owen, Larry D. Thacker, R.A. Clemens, Lauren Suchenski, Amy Rea, Darren C. Demaree, and Courtney Lavender.

Issue #4

September 2016

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2016 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2016 Kate Garrett

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● September 2016

A History Lesson on Salem, Massachusetts, 1692

Nancy Iannucci

Aspirin and Guns

Cathryn Shea

How to Make a Halo

Kevin Casey


Jeffrey Kingman

Still, It’s Nice to be Kissed

Ricky Garni

The Lost Olive

Paul Vaughan

The highway code

Andie Berryman

Pigeon English

Caroline Hardaker

The Etiquette of Loss

Maurice Devitt

In the local bathroom mirror

Daniel Roy Connelly

Passing the Yeames Test

Al McClimens

In My Lover’s Womb

Grant Tarbard


Meygan Cox

Thetford Forest

Anna Percy

The Visitor

Matt Duggan

The Hands that I Loved

Lizzie Holden

A whole lot of horse tranquilizers

Holly Magill


Evie Worrall

To Rust

Justin Hilliard

They are Voting in Lesbos

Antony Owen

Esprit de Corps

Larry D. Thacker

For Thine Is

R.A. Clemens

To my baby who just learned how to walk

Lauren Suchenski

Making Chicken Stock on Day of the Dead

Amy Rea

A Letter to Auguste Rodin About the Thinker’s Privileges

Darren C. Demaree

A (Close) Call

Courtney Lavender

A History Lesson on Salem,

Massachusetts, 1692

Nancy Iannucci

I tell my classes this to jar their wits:

The howling started after the last hanging.

Sauntering spirits drifted in torment

climbing trees grasping at leaves;

they exhaled in reverse force, a microburst

that pushed saltboxes off foundations.

Foliage swirled to sod the skies in streams

of crushed crimson & sobbing rain.

Voices haunted every crack & sill in Salem Village.

The gale blew sustained by the force of each name:

John Proctor -- Susannah Martin – Mary Parker

Martha Cory -- Miles Cory -- Bridget Bishop

Rebecca Nurse -- Sarah Good -- Margret Scott

Wilmet Redd -- John Willard – Elizabeth How

Sarah Wildes – George Burroughs.

They were drawn to their accusers like possessions.

Rev. Parris opened windows to settle the tempest.

He watched each soul pass through roped

& bruised, wounds evident of their

restless innocence. He let them in

one by one, and they…

until that one slick student

interrupted me;

the one who stared cynically;

the one who lacked that

Cotton Mather mouthed

impatience for me to continue;

the one who wasn’t gazing stupefied

as though she had just witnessed

Minerva McGonagall emerge from a cat.

No. The Hermione know-it-all silenced

my authority like Hathorne:

But, Ms. I, that wasn’t in the reading last night.

Aspirin and Guns

Cathryn Shea

Every intelligent woman should become

familiar with the use of firearms. —Annie Oakley

Dawn gulps the moon like a desperate aspirin.

I’m woozy. The din of recycling, clank

of bins along the gutter. Engine dirge

like urban tinnitus.

Recycling is a sure sign

a civilization is on the verge

of collapse.

Ask the Aztecs.

My lovesick cousin toasts

the poster of Annie Oakley,

a mythic, sassy Ophelia

we didn’t study in high school.

If women were rifle-toting Annie Oakleys

in midi culottes with spats over boots,

we wouldn’t have climate change. Seems logical.

Would we have a climate to change?

Would anybody care about recycling?

One sure thing:

since Annie Oakley never drank,

there wouldn’t be any hangovers.

How to Make a Halo

Kevin Casey

1. Spin a broom at the sky to catch the flight

of swifts in loops of liquid silver.

2. Hammer out a pewter ring from a length

of smoke escaping a morning bonfire,

using a sunbeam as an anvil.

3. Steal the twenty-seventh year growth ring

from a lightning-struck sycamore tree.

4. Having pulled the darkness from a hole

four feet deep, cut off the very bottom

and roll up the sides to form a hoop.

5. Pare the rind of a manhole cover, then

seal the ends with a paste of dew and pollen.

6. With the whittled end of a cattail stem,

lift a ripple from an autumn pond

the night before its surface slows to ice.


Jeffrey Kingman

Light cannot find you

behind canned spinach and soap flakes,

the boxtops

shout merrily merrily.

Hide in the purse and smell

Wrigley’s and powder, nervously

snapped open and closed

until your other has driven you home.

Sadie looking at you in the compact.

Down the hallway the study,

husband’s ropey neck—quickstep!

Ah, now steam and bubbles are way up, fogging

your browline glasses. Drain the sink,

rather slide the dishes into slippery mineral oil,

curve of the bowl.

Your ear to the cat for the full throttle,

pillowy belly, warm.

Stroke the harlequin pillowcase, bells

on the corners, conjuring

this morning’s sweater girl. Filene’s hat counter.

What did you

want to whisper soft?

Small enough to come inside your own pocketbook.

Still, It’s Nice to Be Kissed

Ricky Garni

They say kisses sweeter than wine but most wine – particularly

good red wine – let’s say from Burgundy – and now I am

thinking specifically of Domaine de La Romanee-Conti in

Vosne whose wines often more than five hundred dollars a

bottle and there is a very small supply available of these

wines every year in spite of the exorbitant price – is not at all

sweet, in fact, you might even call it earthy, loamy, with hints

of moss and black tea and tobacco leaf, or as the French

might succinctly suggest, of redolent terroir, quite delicious,

and dry.

The Lost Olive

Paul Vaughan

She lies awake,

she wonders why;

why she liked that he ate those olives

in that novel way she had never imagined

that made her squeak and wiggle

but the fun


when one just disappeared

just like that

and it may never come out -

perhaps a tree will grow?

He just sleeps and snores, of course,

but she still lies awake.

The highway code

Andie Berryman

The graffiti tells me what’s going on

ducks have four legs now,

your nan's a cunt,

and men at work swallow cum.

The stop sign

tells me to fuck off the other way

and the give way sign means

bisexuality is cool (for girls)

Amber means do want you want.

Pigeon English

Caroline Hardaker

Leave me with the palest grey pigeons.

They understand me with their

shaded backs and painted necks

iridescent green tattoo inks

puffed full throat and ragged collar

worn through every weather.

Like me, they’re out on the asphalt,

a lack of toes, fumbling for crumbs,

always pecking for the bit that doesn’t exist

and layered on grey

ingloriously blue, so blue.

The Etiquette of Loss

Maurice Devitt

When the milkman left

two cartons this morning,

I happened to be

looking out the window

noticed how he seemed

to linger for a minute,

take time to set them

in the corner of the porch,

as though, just at that moment,

his memory tripped

and his eye caught

the shadow of a blue tit,

waiting for the clink

of glass on the step.

The local bathroom mirror

Daniel Roy Connelly

The local calendar is set to the third

day of the first month of year fifty in

which it is written that a host of my

younger faces are to gather in the

local bathroom mirror which brags a

smattering of magic still, I will not lie.

Sure enough, they cluster round my

hairline as I shave, the younger ones

bemused by my actions, the

teenagers in awe of the blade. The

sun is lancing through the window, it

is almost clear to see but for the

steam that billows up from the

pristine porcelain sink. Every chin

from twenty-four on is scarred, I

note, the gums in the thirties mouths

recede, into the forties faces come

hollowed cheeks and tired eyes. Up

they rise to the reflected skylight,

one after the other my historic selves

coil away vaporously into a radiant


Passing the Yeames Test

Al McClimens

Hi, it said. Does this kid look like you?

A handwritten note posted from somewhere

I didn’t recognise either. There’s a photo

of a boy, or it might have been a girl,

long fair hair and jeans, I’m guessing boy,

taken in a patio area. A blue sun shade

waved hello from the edge of the shot. Six

or seven, maybe. Her reflection in a French

window. She taught school. We met at a party.

Brighton. Late seventies. And all the trimmings.

She left for Buenos Aires the next day. By six

that evening I’d forgotten her. Now, Does this kid

look like you? A date in faded pencil on the back.

The numbers don’t add up. And no, it looks happy.

In My Lover’s Womb

Grant Tarbard


In my lover’s womb

I play her ribs like

A xylophone. We

Make music until

The roses wither.


In my lover’s womb

I knew that I would

Have to clamber down

Out of her jelly,

Swaying crook morning.


In my lover’s womb

She flowers inside

A crimson kiln, a

Roses firestone

Seeking the Sun’s flames.


In my lover’s womb,

It is a place for

Making noises, hear

The breeze outside her

Lining of sunset.


In my lover’s womb

Desire is a red

Dye of joy untold,

Cocooned in her shy

Blue November eyes.


Meygan Cox

We pull at weeds that have been gathering in the garden

for some time.

With the sun beaming down on us,

neither of us says a word.

We work on opposite sides, tugging at roots that refuse to release,

I want to ask you how your day was, but I stop myself.

You’ll just give me the same answer and I can’t handle

that right now.

In the middle of tangled weeds, I spot a robin’s egg—cracked.

Isn’t it beautiful? I ask. Put it down, you say. Bird’s eggs are filthy.

While you continue to pick dead flowers, I hold on to tomorrow.

Thetford Forest

Anna Percy

May and it is boiling

my partner for orienteering

has the map upside down

insists it is the right way up

as a result we are dead last

later the headmaster has to

find us on his mountain bike

the pine trees are very tall

at their height and concentration

they block out the sun for

large distances we are running

in shadows into clouds of fat

bodied may flies it is too hot

and the map is upside down

I am trying to enjoy being lost

the searing injustice of knowing

the map is upside down is filling

my eleven year old mind

at this age being away from adults

is thrilling we are so supervised

that any time to wander in

places that are green and feel safe

is welcome this day there are

thick clouds of fat bodied mayflies

that I have swallowed and

the map is upside down.

The Visitor

Matt Duggan

Come lay with me in the hayfields

among circles in yellow and stone,

stare at a sky with bright stars

like toasted crumbs on blue gingham,

we hide from the opening of rooms

the secrets disguised as lies;

undress the pretty heart inside

may the visitor never catch us.

Come lay with me in the hayfields

where the sun meets the day,

catch the dew dropping from mouths in spring

tasting the stolen fruit that lay beside me,

a love exhumed from an assassin’s sight

where nightingales whispered songs to the dead.

We were lost in each other’s limbs

hidden from the man with the favoured snout.

The Hands That I Loved

Lizzie Holden

I remember the roses

glossy on her silk knee.

Stocking feet in kitten heels.

The wrinkled hands I loved

smelling of her pink hand cream,

squeezing my waist,

holding me tight

so I wouldn’t wriggle,

so he could feel.

A whole lot of horse tranquilizers

Holly Magill

Who would do such a thing? people gasp,

One of God’s great creatures – it’s murder!

No one will tell what they do with Steve’s body;

would need an enormous hole to bury it,

like a crater on the moon.

There’s jokes about an almighty hog-roast,

only not a hog – I’m going vegetarian.

We don’t see The Ring Master for days;

empties fly from the windows of his trailer,

glass tears shatter on the hard-standing.

My ruined foot tingles. Wasn’t me

that did it – but I wish I had.

On the third evening, a portable CD player magics

up on his front step, blaring and distorted.

Nellie the elephant packed her trunk

and said goodbye…

In the folds of night across the way,

I press repeat on the remote

over and over.


Evie Worrall

You planted a rose bush in my stomach.

A Winter bud that furled itself inside,

sinewy twines stretched to line my skin

and replace my veins with

frosted gossamer webs.

The petals bloomed and collected;

blood red

wet stains in the snow

on my thighs

on the bathroom floor.

I planted lilies in my throat

to fill the empty silence.

To Rust

Justin Hilliard

decompose, breakdown


destruction and degradation

steel pole


holding up the framework of

an intricate garden of

tomatoes and strawberries

to rust

to dust

the pole gives in

slowly flakes in maroon blotches

to dust

weight gives in and

the pole gives way

framework with vines woven intricate,

fall. tomatoes tumble to the ground

and crush fertile strawberries

to dust

They are Voting in Lesbos

Antony Owen

I want to stay here in paradise and vote for bream and rice as

children shoot each other safely dying like pretend refugees. I

want to raise the runt that was tied to the leash of a mongrel

and walk it through the ferns and stare south to my homeland

and pray. I want to tell my nephew that his Mother and Father

were astronauts of water and live floating among the stars

that whales blow out to the sky. Oh my beautiful friends I have

had to vote for many things that would break your red little

ships and sink them in your chests. I have had to vote to

leave my daughter and place my faith in driftwood. I want to

stay here in paradise and watch my brothers boy dream and

tell him that sea monsters do not yell in Arabic to be saved. I

want to open this locket and tell my wife that the olives here

are bitter and how greek widows stand on towels to collect

them for the women. I want to vote for water tomorrow and

ask Jurgen why he wears a Leicester top when last year he

supported United. I want you to hear how children here pass a

football, my turn, your turn, my turn your turn, my turn, my turn

my turn, my turn.

Esprit de Corps

Larry D. Thacker

“No live plants,” ought to have told us something was up.

“No more than two personal framed photos,” was another clue,

along with never opening our windows or adjusting the air.

And when we all were instructed to come to the pot luck,

lined up alphabetically, holding our assigned food dishes,

only allowed in if wearing our name tags and properly attired

in khakis and polos, as the rumors circulated that our offices

were being inspected as we attended the mandatory gathering,

many of us were just “happy to have a job in this economy,”

and enjoyed a meal of fellowship and school spirit as we

listened to how wonderful the coming year would be

if we all just tightened our already tight belts and understood

the factory-like efficiency benefits of “limiting all personal

belongings equivalent to a single box for ease to pack up

at a moment’s notice while observed by an immediate

supervisor and an officer and carried with minimal strain

on our backs while making way to our vehicles as to avoid

any liabilities.” The laugh-track skipped a few times during

the presentation, but the communications department worked

out the kinks. While a surprise at first, it was all much easier

to understand once the soul extraction options #1 and #2

were explained at the required annual insurance presentations.

Examples of an eased professional existence had been

provided by leadership for some time it was explained.

We were expected not only to comply, but to do so gladly.

Everyone was also invited to this spring’s Margaretville Cruise.

For Thine Is

R.A. Clemens

The sterile office incubates

an embryonic batch of hacks

who dream of pastures green behind

the technicolour screens of macs

Today the dark Satanic mills

are concrete, steel, and tempered glass

If Progress were an obelisk

you'd still require an I.D. pass

to enter through its pearly gates.

And still, tomorrow's Bright Young Things

who normalise that Hell awaits

accept the debt to earn their wings.

To my baby who just learned how to


Lauren Suchenski

If I could wrap the world around your tongue

into the slightest sliver of a word

I’d tell you all the twisting things that will meet you

when you walk.

I’d tell you, sweet baby,

about the paths that lead nowhere at all

the fragments of days that will get stuck on the roof of your mouth

the snowflakes that will rest on your eyebrows

and the fires that will never be put out.

I’d tell you how these feet

will burn, will turn and tumble

over themselves; these feet will lead

you into stories, will run you hot with air,

these feet will walk through measured moments

and tiny triumphs. These feet will learn to dance.

I’d tell you about shoes,

how people will convince you they’ll protect your

ten small toes. But truly, they will never teach

you what it is to feel the ground beneath you.

I’d tell you about legs,

how muscles will cling to your bones

and rush you out the door. Will fly you across a field

and fail you at the end of the road. These legs will

hold. These legs will keep secrets.

I’d tell you about your feet,

and all the feet that have walked

to let you walk.

But my words are just mumblechatter to you

they just sing in tunes and whistle out your ears

you smile back at me and still feel unafraid.

Making Chicken Stock on Day of the


Amy Rea

November first.

Chicken carcass.

Farm market haul:

heads of garlic halved horizontally

onions, skin and all,

carrots, celery, root to leaves,

tomatoes, whole cloves, bay leaf.


Low heat.

Merest simmer, barely a bubble.

By day’s end, gold.

The fragrant stock

conjures my grandmother’s kitchen

and the weekly pot—

carrot peelings, beet tops,

marrow bones, chicken feet,

drooping celery. Salt. Nothing wasted.

All returned at holidays. Ham, turkey

lutefisk, Jello salad

stuffing, mashed potatoes

relish tray

krumkake, berlinkranser, lefse.

And gravy, the heart of the matter,

new drippings, old broth.

Later, my mother,

working two jobs,

dazzled by cans and cartons

of timesavers—

Bouillon! Bisquick!

Cake mix!

Instead of the tyranny of time:

a can, a whirring opener—

Presto! Broth.


and not.

I look for them

in the ghostly wisps of steam

that rise as the water

draws its flavor

its golden-red color

from the weakening vegetables.

A Letter to Auguste Rodin About the

Thinker’s Privileges

Darren C. Demaree

Yes, he is special enough

to be treated specially

twice a year, but good lord

he’s brutish, isn’t he? Could

you break the hymn to hum

him enough song to be human?

A (Close) Call

Courtney Lavender

he wore uncertainty

as a cloak

for that moment


in a dark café on a late night meet.

next thing he spoke

- they either love you

or they think you’re a cunt -

and i nearly said i loved him.

i think you’re a cunt,

i said.

For writer biographies / web links, please see

the ‘Contributors’ page on our website.

Thank you for reading!

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