Picaroon Poetry - Issue #17 - July 2019

Featuring poetry by Sharon Phillips, Peter Burrows, Kitty Coles, alyssa hanna, Crystal Anderson, John L. Stanizzi, Chris Hemingway, Sue Kindon, Kathleen Strafford, Jenna Velez, Maureen Daniels, Samuel Guest, Charlie Hill, John Son, Beth Bayley, Visar, Bethany W Pope, Luke Kuzmish, Gerard Sarnat, Chris Hardy, Erik Fuhrer, Christopher Hopkins, John Raffetto, Andrew Shields, Bo Meson, Brian Comber, Martin Zarrop, Kristin Garth, Maiya Dambawinna, David Bankson, Jeffrey Zable, Rickey Rivers Jr, Anthony Watts, Donna Dallas, Chuka Susan Chesney, and Tobi Alfier. Picaroon is, as always, lovingly edited by Kate Garrett.

Featuring poetry by Sharon Phillips, Peter Burrows, Kitty Coles, alyssa hanna, Crystal Anderson, John L. Stanizzi, Chris Hemingway, Sue Kindon, Kathleen Strafford, Jenna Velez, Maureen Daniels, Samuel Guest, Charlie Hill, John Son, Beth Bayley, Visar, Bethany W Pope, Luke Kuzmish, Gerard Sarnat, Chris Hardy, Erik Fuhrer, Christopher Hopkins, John Raffetto, Andrew Shields, Bo Meson, Brian Comber, Martin Zarrop, Kristin Garth, Maiya Dambawinna, David Bankson, Jeffrey Zable, Rickey Rivers Jr, Anthony Watts, Donna Dallas, Chuka Susan Chesney, and Tobi Alfier.

Picaroon is, as always, lovingly edited by Kate Garrett.


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Issue #17

July 2019

Edited by Kate Garrett

All poems copyright © 2019 individual authors

Selection/issue copyright © 2019 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry

Cover image is detail from ‘Medusa’ by Irina Iriser via Unsplash and used under

the public domain license.

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● July 2019

Directions // Sharon Phillips 7

Cousin Dorothy // Peter Burrows 8

The Omen Days // Kitty Coles 9

ars poetica from the bottom of the ocean // alyssa hanna 10

Soushoku-kei Danshi (Herbivore Men) // Crystal Anderson 11

a poem from POND // John L. Stanizzi 12

Foxes in Fog // Chris Hemingway 13

Enfant Terrible // Sue Kindon 14

Lilith // Kathleen Strafford 16

american heathen // Jenna Velez 18

The Flesh of Vows // Maureen Daniels 19

Shiver // Samuel Guest 20

Arguing about songs // Charlie Hill 21

St Pancras // John Son 22

Communion // Beth Bayley 23

Sango (To Whom I Almost Lost My Mind) // Visar 24

Kě'ài // Bethany W Pope 25

Bud Says // Luke Kuzmish 26

Redondo Beach Mudita // Gerard Sarnat 28

Dragon’s Tail // Chris Hardy 30

Voyage Out Sonnet 50 // Erik Fuhrer 32

Yellow beak // Christopher Hopkins 33

The Botany of Insomnia // John Raffetto 34

Stop, Look, Listen // Andrew Shields 35

one in the eye for bio diversity // Bo Meson 36

Panopticon // Brian Comber 37

Harvest // Martin Zarrop 38

Captives // Kristin Garth 39

And Thus I Run Out Of Myself // Maiya Dambawinna 40

Back then you were a globe // David Bankson 41

This is No Nursery Rhyme // Jeffrey Zable 42

Dumpty // Rickey Rivers Jr 43

The Pixelated Man // Anthony Watts 44

The Intermediate // Donna Dallas 45

Aftermath // Chuka Susan Chesney 46

Unfinished Portrait // Tobi Alfier 47

Sharon Phillips


Today you're finding it hard to write

in your edgy restless mood; maybe

the cat thinks you should stop:

he paces around on the desktop

and smacks your hand with his paw

but you are wound too tight to give up

so you keep on making ragged notes

about the weeks of heatwave—the day

you dozed in the shade of the lilac,

the rumble of bees in the rambling rose

—but none of it feels urgent or true

until you write about a woman you saw

yesterday in the hospital: pink mohawk,

tall; how she stopped and dried her eyes

and asked the way to the cancer ward.


Peter Burrows

Cousin Dorothy

Inching back the curtains, Cousin Dorothy

notes the car outside the house opposite.

Rings to confirm. Timings. Things taken in.

All the details she likes to know – so same time

next week they tail him to the garden centre,

where once he took the now brooding passenger

who sends her in to trail them through the sliding doors.

Warm air ruffles the senses. Vague browsers push

her through: fragrant scents, Muzak, shelved goods. Which way

through crowded displays of needless desires?

Teased on by the lure of fresh coffee. The café

tables laid out like a board games tournament.

Old faces meet. Couples stare through long windows.

Daffodils. Spotted, eating his cake, she draws near,

hearing him moaning to one about the other.

He knows nothing about women. But, big house.

A car. Grown up kids far away. He’s a catch

of sorts. What she loses being difficult.

Back in the car, debriefed, deaf to the stirred

fury, she smells the candles on her fingers.

Weeks later, after the usual calls, he relents,

as he always does. But the other woman

stays. A weak hand played – she won’t be happy, still,

she’s someone else to drive her about. For now.

Cousin Dorothy, scented candle lit,

awaits her next mission, by the window.


Kitty Coles

The Omen Days

These mornings, owls call in the light;

bats fly by day. The pile of the velvet

between us grows thinner, thinner.

You have left me signs:

the way that heron flew

above the hazel tree as if it was broken

and the distant shots I heard

when I walked by the orchard

and a pheasant, black as oil, appeared from nowhere.

I lay out my cards and you rise

in each formation,

the page of cups, proffering a glass of nothing.

Smudging the doorways, the smoke ascends,

pale ropes; in the bowl

a nest of ashes the size of a fist.

I wash myself until the skin seems thin.

I will put down roots

and live like a hyacinth,

like a mystic, nourished

on nothing but air and water.

My blood will put out tiny flowers like stars.


alyssa hanna

ars poetica from the bottom of the ocean

more than anything, i want to be a multitude of stimuli,

energy flowing flora and turquoise and tidal,


rescuing the fear of sharks and jellyfish from

the forces we forgot. i received a thanks for

curating a museum

of dewdrop—

she told me i made her feel less alone.

urn-kept, her mother agrees, sends me flowers that i

really wonder if i deserve.

i want to shake senses

but who am i to start earthquakes?

i will never know if the seafloor can

recover from more eruptions, but the acrylic

in my blood

yearns, tells me i must help her heal, attempt to soothe

every woman’s old wounds. if my words, my paintings

are bandages, can i keep the earth

from bleeding out?


Crystal Anderson

Soushoku-kei Danshi (Herbivore Men)

Your fantastic house plants succeed,

form a least demanding ecosystem

against your solo back; expectation

(like sloughing skin

from apple meat)

casts a wide orbit around traditional time

sinks. You escape the pull of gravity by scaling

honeysuckle on urban trees that struggle with their workloads

(exhaust sags their frames like afterglow salarymen);

respiration without surgical mask protection.

You like the gentle demarcation of that sterile cloth

stretched between yourself and konkatsu (exploration of pure

flowers; the heaven, the earth, the human),

kampai!, ferris wheel, procession (pictorial

occasions displayed in an alcove). You like the


in (eating cellulose) reframing disappointment

with indifferent stems so there is no koibito

aggression and that is fine

because ohitorisama

is not a provocative word.

Reclaimed carbon dioxide

(the sun, the water,

the photosynthesis, the cascade mist

droplets on leaves and nomikai beer)

will ask you for nothing more.


John L. Stanizzi

a poem from POND


10.36 a.m.

36 degrees

Pappy grass, browned and mushy, but an inch down the hard freeze has

overnighted and is still rock-hard. Yesterday’s torrential downpour

normalized the southwest end of the pond – clear water and a view

distinct enough of the bottom that I can see the sand, a reminder of summer.


Chris Hemingway

Foxes in Fog

At first she thought they were dogs

brushing his heels,

domestic shapes in the thickening fog.

But then five, seven, eleven,

tawnier, redder.

Crossing the car park,

a duskworld.

He gathers scraps from the folds of his coat.

Conjures swirls from these foxes.

Carnival blizzards,

that could turn to snow.

He will not tame them.

He doesn't want to.

He wants to be a ringmaster.

For this night only.

He doesn't see her.

He thinks he’s alone.


Sue Kindon

Enfant Terrible

A surrogate city

gave birth in the early hours

after the shortest of labours

to a healthy, full-term woman

who wanted to suckle

the Sacré Coeur.

The child-woman's fontanelle

throbbed like the light show

of a maternal Eiffel Tower,

post-partum arteries pulsed

with the can-can of The Seine

past Notre Dame.

Mother and daughter dancing it all,

the bouquiniste stalls on the quays,

the high-heel click of the Métro,

haute-couture clinics,

jewels in arch windows

of golden hotels,

colliding with whores

in doorways or draped over cars;

the drug of exhaust fumes,

cocktail of Gîtanes and garlic,

posters for sex shows with fishnets,

rue des Deux-Boules.


The daughter grew weary of Paris,

taking trains further out

every stifling weekend,

estranged in the forests of Senlis,

Rambouillet, the deep breath

of Fontainebleau,

sleeping pill journeys

on long-distance lines


to the Morvan, or Chartres

with its half-timbered love-nests,

the murmur of pigeons,

the dapple of flesh.

She wanted an ocean,

the Brittany coastline,

salt for her lipstick,

dulse for her hair:

without Paris

she deckchair-dozes

and nods at the sea.


Kathleen Strafford


Adam’s first wife


She bathes in waves of seminal fluid

flies on the moon’s last breath through windows strange

drains men in their beds

bites off their head

stretches their drongo-skin

for bongos

cocks quicken

like headless dancing chickens

She yearns to straddle Adam like a stag

gallop fast to brag dig her spurs in

teach his hot tongue

to flick like a feral cat.

Adam sows wild oats elects to plough his fierce erection

into the cunny of mares, many (he finds) don’t have opinions

just an occasional toss of mane or whinny

is all Adam needs.

Lilith hates when horse hairs stick to his knees.


With argument’s last straw

Lilith is banished doomed to fuck Eden’s dark angels

howls giving birth

to changeling owls & hyenas

dons wings grows talons

to cling to bed posts

soars the night’s sky seeking bleary-eyed

infants Shoves

her blue nipple into tender lips

cackles as they choke.

She Eve-drops

slips between the sheets

of her Ex fingers his rib-caged wife

to know the other woman

taste the difference



Lilith grows a tree

sleeps in its hollow

with mopokes and poppied hemlock

Its roots are serpents

Her arms and bony fingers reach up splintering

through limbs

ruby amulets glisten like fruit.


Through the centuries:

Lilith whispers to Circe

Who whispers to Medea

Who whispers to Morgan Le Fay

to all bearded hags and to Hecate

who slither like snakes

to all Malkin women

(From the author’s collection Wilderness of Skin, published by Yaffle Press, July 2019)


Jenna Velez

american heathen

American heathen

She’s disgusting

With ivory fangs

Melts the metal down

From gemstone Jesus

Builds her altars

For the humanity she lost

To God-fearing men

She loves her seafaring gods

American heathen

Curses the soot off her cheek

From the fire where she burned alive

She’s holy

With gold jewelry

A priestess to the pyre

To the ember and amber

Prisoner moth in resin flames

American heathen

Cuts out a blue eye

From folkish faces

She’s tricky

With a riddled tongue

Casting runes with the

Ruins of a man’s body

That claimed her as a

Star-spangled sacrifice

Blood, white, and blue on the drinking horn


Maureen Daniels

The Flesh of Vows

In our bed

we are cast again into gridlock,

your mouth,

bitter soot, my body,

death’s dais.

You call this


this trek

back and forth

to the half-life of release.

Your hands

fling waxes

that harden

against my thighs,

our palms fuse

in the hot-light.

Think how many times

I could have killed you.

The pulp of your body

lodged in me:

Spine. Testicles. Toes.

The married flesh

of our vows,

a dead thing.

There is no stitch for this wound,

no song to sing ourselves serene.


Samuel Guest


she shivers in a bed of rose petals as my

hand glides across her collarbone

tears run down my cheeks in little

rivulets that whisper

where did you come from


Charlie Hill

Arguing about songs

And sometimes we sit

in the kitchen

and argue

over which songs

should soundtrack

the spaces

of our conjoined divide.

Then we laugh,

bitter wistful,

at the casual accord

that once greeted suggestions

of any tune really,

to help pass the time

between going to bed,

making love on the sofa,

having sex on the table

between us.


John Son

St Pancras

If I ever get married it’ll be here, gazing into

my husband’s eyes alongside 2 for 1 paperback

deals and cut-price egg mayo sandwiches.

My boutonniere will be a chicken wing.

It won’t match the acuity of rhubarb

or gooseberry, but people will love it for trying.

I’m back-benched, licking ciabatta dust off my

fingers. Last night you were on fire, but not

in the way that wins people Man Booker prizes -

rather, like the way people gawp at departure

boards, and drop their coins on the concourse

floor when fumbling for train tickets.

Pennies roll outwards in miniature flight paths of change.

I am scheduled to meet Mark at the shop selling

activewear for the modern impotent gentleman.

We have planned meticulously: from the greeting kiss to

our getting lost on the Tube, reuniting on the

Victoria line platform in an achingly sexy epiphany.

Weddings are much like delayed trains. Both require dancing

to an excessive degree, but rarely for good reason.

I will never marry Mark. He’ll run away to Nottinghamshire

like they all do in the end - my chew toy of a heart in one hand,

my beloved chicken wing in the other. What will become of

me then? The place settings left stale and untouched;

the elegiac concept of train termini stations, but never

the cold, hard reality of it all.


Beth Bayley


The Novena Catholic Church has been rebuilt and made grand enough to

accommodate nearly everyone’s Sunday morning, though at Christmas they

needed a tent outside and a video screen for overflow. We could see it from the

bar across the street, where they know us well (a phenomenon I’m ambivalent

about), as we had our communion of lager and thin, crispy pizza.

So Sunday’s crowded, but Wednesday is, too, and sometimes even the lunchtime

throngs head in for a Jesus fix. That’s when I usually see her, at the bottom of the

church steps, with a dowager’s hump under her floral blouse and the brightest

magenta lipstick on her wrinkled mouth. You aren’t allowed to beg in Singapore,

but you are allowed to sell packets of tissues, three for a dollar, and she holds

three yellow packets in her left hand. Sometimes there’s an uncle in a wheelchair

selling them too, one leg a stump that the crowds have to walk around; but it’s her

I go to with my coins, her lipstick a beacon and beckoning.

I blot my own lipstick with her tissues later, as I get ready to go to the bar, leaning

into the mirror to examine my own wrinkles, empty riverbeds, dry tributaries seen

from space.



Sango (To Whom I Almost Lost My Mind)

Streetlights ceased to work,

but mossed rainspout of the road

carried market trays and parasols,

Mannequins armless or nude before boutiques.

The balconies are decorated with clothes,

Schools of trees sway at passing jalopies,

Capricious lovers took photos at Samonda's gallery,

Relationships wore out and snapped.

Waysides crawled with old denizens,

Bridges were ceilings, clothes rented by bodies

changing. The street was an imposter,

its pygmy goats ruminating on Serendipity

leaves. Beer parlours swallowed your

working husbands;

Latitude kept us so long on the ground.


Bethany W Pope


My restaurant-buddy has a name I can't

pronounce. I've tried, of course, but she asked me

to stop. We mainly communicate through

Google Translate and gestures. My Chinese

is virtually nonexistent; her English

limited to 'Hello!’ but we persist.

After I make my selections, shovel

bok choy, raw horse flank, and dumplings into

my bowl and she loads it all into

the steel boiler, she sits down at my table

and teaches me numbers using mushrooms.

She touches each head as she counts them out.

I don't know anything about her life.

I don't know where she lives or what she does

for fun. I don't know how she lost her eye.

I know that she's in her early thirties.

I know that she likes K-Pop, coconut

milk, and pictures of puppies. I know that

she finds puppy pictures on the internet

and stores them on her phone because after

I’ve counted to ten to her satisfaction

she opens a folder and shows them to me.

She says the same thing about every picture:

Cute, cute, cute. ‘Kě'ài, kě'ài, kě'ài.’


Luke Kuzmish

Bud Says

Bud says

that there’s a

big difference

between feeling hopeless

and being


he learned

this lesson


when he gave three years

of his life

to the department of corrections

“I was writing

a lot of letters:

love letters

send me books

or send me money


let me know

how the flowers are doing

while I’m away letters

let me know

if the sky is still

broad and open



someone like me letters”


Bud says hope

is like oxygen

all around

“I’ll stay hopeful


I stop breathing”


Gerard Sarnat

Redondo Beach Mudita*

Let’s do a snappy happy poem

that maybe someone can understand.

A February Sunday. Lovers or friends.

Mothers and dads teach kids

to ride bicycles. Dogs chase Frisbees

and masters into the glass waves

along the curling of the shore. Old and not,

rich and poor, black and white,

a marriage party, some alone

come from all over Los Angeles

to bathe in the glory while most of the rest

of the US freezes.

Instead of running or walking

or fashioning sand castles, I brought

a beachchair, just sat.

The water and air talked to me about how they

weren’t getting any younger either.

A gaggle of nondescript birds

dart past a giant inert seagull.

In lieu of time’s conspiracy

each year since winter started,

what I must do with my remaining breath

when not writing becomes clear

as a bolt of cold crashes through my chest.


A lovely stooped over rotund couple

in gray sweaters makes its way.

Straining to absorb last heat from the sun,

delight as we all move on.

*Meaning sympathetic joy in Pāli and Sanskrit; English has no single word for Buddhism’s

third brahmavihārā, or divine attitude.


Chris Hardy

Dragon’s Tail

In October lay the hedge.

Keep hawthorn, hazel,

blackthorn, beech and ash.

Behead the oak.

Slice stems to a tendon

of sapwood with the hook.

Pack down the pleachers at a slant,

staked with poles, bound by whips.

Haul away everything cut out –

long twisted branches, brash,

axed trunks, young growth, dead wood,

and stack it in the field.

Fire will change it to

a hill of incandescent caves

from which a ring of flame

will spread across dry stubble.

You’re left with a barrier

dense and sharp, chest high,

a straight dark line

leaning up the slope,

and a circle of black earth

where nothing grows

until April rain wakes

thistle seeds blown in.

Soon cornflowers, hare bells,

orchids, vetch and grass return,

are mowed, raked out to dry,

baled in stacks and barns,


like gold sieved from the earth

for feed when fields are bare,

when waterfalls of stars

fall through the skylight,

and the hedge is sinew, ribcage,

spine of the sleeping serpent

round your bounds

that you laid there.


Erik Fuhrer

Voyage Out Sonnet 50

The moon broke straight over the earth. Birds whitened

the horizon, straight as threads of sunlight. Shoulders

hunched the morning into life. Lips anticipated explosions penetrating

through mourners. Voices shook hands down the passage.

Grief clenched death with raced down cheeks. The dead dreamt.

The mornings became fewer every day. Eyes took pains to suffer. Laughter

crumbles to a full stop. Spirits sting the room. Minutes, dropping

anchor, forgot what rain looks like. Play desired a gravel path. Insects

hum the heavy drop of silence. People light thunder

darker across the earth. Wind carried lightening

at the joints. Slackening light voiced electric

crowds of artificial light. The storm began to tell stories of needlework.

Moths thoraxed the room. Cheeks whipped lighting over a chair in final struggle.

The shock of rain could not speak. Eyes resumed knitting the open air.

*This poem is from a longer work titled The Voyage Out Sonnets, a page by page erasure

of Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out. During the process of erasure, I moved chapter by

chapter and then formed what I had into 50 experimental sonnets. I highlighted language

over narrative and rarely re-used Woolf's subjects, instead often giving agency and voice to

animals and inanimate objects. For the most part, I did not add anything to the text, with the

exception of the rare addition of an "s" at the end of a word. I also occasionally cobbled

together a word from individual letters. That said, Woolf's original language remains mostly

intact and unadulterated.


Christopher Hopkins

Yellow beak

On the sands

we pass a carcass of

a sea bird,

dried and belly burst.


to see it this close.

The worked yellow flint of the beak,

its only recognisable form.

The bleached rub of exposed

wing bones,

now whiter than the

torus nest of feathers

that once was its chest

and the gather of weathered

pellet edges;

the shrimp & fish

of its plastic suppers.

The down shivers

in the intimate winds,

ghostly twitch of the starving


a stomach full of death.


John Raffetto

The Botany of Insomnia

Again I rewind the tape

looping endless

babble dreams


cycad moon.

Years spent in therapeutic

echo chambers

shadows of volcanic

torn palms


against gnarled oak branches,

a slow drip

of desired rest

cast aside

near streetlamp glow

the forgotten

and forgiven

lie in state

of green fossils

as the tape

sputters into a taut


as dawn approaches

through filtered



Andrew Shields

Stop, Look, Listen

When you don’t look, the money’s no good.

When you don’t listen, the locks break.

When you don’t close the door, the ink runs out.

When you don’t write, the phone keeps ringing.

When you don’t call, the car won’t start.

When you walk, the radio plays.

When the day’s not yours, the present unwraps.

When you don’t explain, nothing happens.

When you’re not here, the candles never go out.


Bo Meson

one in the eye for bio diversity

Three billion unfussy fat boys,

as at the dawn of days,

a 6 mile nucleus, yucatan bound -

burrows 25 miles

under undulating ground

600 mile speed air-howl,

as chloroplasty dies

a hypoglycemic death -

fixed point of a necessary reign

causing dinosaurs to drop

Cretaceous, a mass extinct,

with heavy metal band

a cosmic iridium bookmark -

the footprint-free paleogene

a planet sudden dark

Transitional therapod fossil

Darwin's Bulldog spots

small autochtonous relic -

with melanosome mange

cotton-candy fuzz ,,, psychedelic

Four-winged paravian,

2-stroke pneumatic stoking

survival entice us -

past this sick 6th

biotic crisis

Graven heft of a stone tablet

birdosaurs unbound


Brian Comber


Uncle Joe had a poster of Stalin and would put you right

if you didn’t toe the party line,

he denounced Khrushchev

and planned purges of his own

when he would turn up the white noise

and break a few skulls

he told us of his day at the beach, how he saw

the toddler running towards the tethered donkeys

and then, to follow, in this order;

the desperate mother,

the bank holiday crowd disturbed by the fuss,

sitting up and shielding their eyes,

the police calming down and fanning out,

the shouting grandfather,

and much later

the circling helicopter.

Uncle Joe said he could have stepped in,

stopped the child and helped the law

but he’d been in trouble for that kind of thing before.

We didn’t holiday with Uncle Joe anymore.

Last time I saw him he was at the windblown station

shaking out a lifeboat tin,

not turning to watch us go.

My dad said he should go back to Russia,

where turning a blind eye and seeing all

would keep your apartment, a welcome at the factory gate

and where the beach could be cleared

with just a word from the State.


Martin Zarrop


Tractors dig deep in Passchendaele.

Above, the morning mist,

below in mud, corroded steel,

a crop that knows no armistice.

In furrowed fields, disposal teams

collect the toxic bric-a-brac:

grenades and fuses, Flying Pigs,

white phosphorus and mustard gas.

Above, no regiments,

below, in rough and ready rows,

shells primed to suffocate and maim,

nudged nose to rusted nose

millions that failed to detonate,

foundering in quagmire like the men

who perished long before them,

known and unknown warriors

whose names are carved in stone

or traced through DNA a century on

in earth and scraps of cloth,

fragments of bone demanding

recognition from their heirs,

remembrance from those who pray

as the old world turns under the plough

and will not die away.


Kristin Garth


Unlike you, Colossus was born free, months

old taken, forest to captivity,

New Hampshire caged, first, watched TV. Now grunts

at you, in Florida, field trip, fifteen,

schoolgirl, flared dress, against impact resistant glass —

six hundred pounds, his punch — retreat fast. Hear

docent remit biography — wild grass,

good genes, Gulf Breeze to breed. “Confusion, fear.

Forgotten gorilla ways.” Teen tears, beast bounds

then squints sideways, sovereign staring into

you; chest heaving in his concrete compound

reminds cowering schoolgirl captive who

was born to your abusive family:

freedom is strength, even the memory.


Maiya Dambawinna

And Thus I Run Out Of Myself

An Ode to Pablo Neruda

Twenty-six and over your head, you were

Lost in the complexions of strangers, you

Found yourself putting angels to rest, just to

Ease the hunger pangs of loneliness. Ask

Me if I ever made you less than worthy. Ask me

If you want to know why, how, what and where

I hid all my sweet nothings addressed to you. I’ve

Labelled them, dated them, buried them. It has been

A long time coming. Caught in the fences, I –

I lose track of time. My hands would

Forget how yours felt in an instant. I have

Spent twenty-six years inside my stomach, only to

Bubble to the top of my oesophagus and fall. Tell

Me I never looked beautiful. Tell me how

Every woman before me has reduced me to dirt,

How the memory of them surely mottles

Me – tell me I’m nothing more than rocks;

Prometheus, tell me I chained you – forgetting how,

With a rushing of blood beneath his wings, the

Eagle used me. Becoming part river,

Louder than thunder, I am only towards you running.


David Bankson

Back then you were a globe

held apart by ocean arms,

melted glaciers refrozen,

vodka & ice castles,

your exterior severe

as the dusk's late light, draining

every window in the house with day-

killing darkness; I

stitched together the broken bits of myself

& learned to ignore loose threads

& pricked thumbs.

I learned of the difference

between being silver & moon

glimmering on the top of a stray puddle.

Between hearts & the seas

without end I mistook them for.

Surrendering & being seen

to have surrendered. A globe

& a land without smooth slopes.

Between such an example of weakness

& leaving before it could be proven.


Jeffrey Zable

This is No Nursery Rhyme

The capsule from the burning bottle turned everything dark.

And nothing was ever the same.

Baa Baa Black Sheep said he would bite me

with his iron teeth,

and the children once known as Jack and Jill

were now Smack and Vill;

Vill standing for villainous.

“We’re gonna take all your money!”

she hissed in my ear.

“Buy more guns, drugs, and take lavish vacations.

Live like royalty for the rest of your days!”

So with nothing left to lose

I downed another capsule,

which put me to sleep for a long, long time.

And when I awakened I looked into the eyes

of Baa Baa Black Sheep,

who’d made a hole in my chest,

and one in the back of my head. . .


Rickey Rivers Jr


Look into the mirror and at the egg man holding it.

The irony is lost on him.

His pieces crackling like your mental state,

your eyes red, long tired.

What say you to this reality?

When you wake with headaches,

and painful joints.

Do you carry on?

Or do you succumb?

These questions boggle unbroken people too.

The glass cracks

and so goes your mushy brain.

Don't worry, you're sane.

Broken people broke in people.

This has always been the case.


Anthony Watts

The Pixelated Man

My resolution wavers. There are days

when I’m almost high definition, almost

know who I am.

But mostly I’m this unresolved

abstraction –

a ghost made of lego.

When they turn off the power

I sleep, dream of a woman

perfect in every pixel.


Donna Dallas

The Intermediate

Help me, help me.

I can’t get out.

I’m constantly torn

between here and there,

blonde or brunette, walk

or ride.

I look at the old photos

of the old me, the ugly me.

I look in the mirror and want

to be a new me, not an older me.

Maybe I will go on a diet.

I’m saving my money,

I’m saving my money!!

I’m in the middle of haircuts

and jobs.

I refuse to go backwards.

Tomorrow is already sitting

on my lap like a stack

of unopened mail and

I’m not even finished with

my To Do list.

Who am I, who am I?

I’m in limbo hanging

like a coconut.

Crack me open and at least

pour me over ice.


Chuka Susan Chesney


There was a zoo of dead animals in my throat after you died

A coat closet filmed in Naugahyde

eyes watched me crouch

they knew what had transpired

the rusty underpinnings of deep blood chords

and you on the floor like washed-up insides

a manatee asleep and barely alive

they took you away and tried to make you breathe

but you couldn’t be revived and you turned into leaves

that tempted the doctor as he exhumed your head

to study the madness that waded into death


Tobi Alfier

Unfinished Portrait

She’s stumbled over love’s disputed borderlands in many weathers. The burnt air

of August finds her just as compass-in-hand wandering as the itinerant fall wind—

cloud shadows a checkerboard of pattern on low hills, tops coated with sugarsnow,

the air waiting, workmen and vagrants waiting, tinge of clay and dried mud

up against curbs, reminder of rains that came, ground-thirst slugging down water

like she used to shoot tequila. Now it’s a calmly sipped shot of anything gold, in

anywhere quiet, mirrors against the back bar reflect her carefully painted face, hair

brushed a thousand strokes, age impossible to guess, and it’s another late

afternoon in the rugged splendor of somewhere-ville. Windmills stand tall and

graceful, lining the valley. Sound of the Union Pacific on its way, a distant lullaby,

reminder of a long-ago trip from Texas to California, bunk beds to sleep on, birds

and brush waving goodbye through the window as it rushes and rushes, stopping

in towns along the way that she doesn’t remember. Time—like footsteps

dispatched in an alley, the downgoing sun. Shale tones of sky ease around

memory no one but she wants to revisit. The early fade of day.



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