In their rejection letter for my article--Dispatches of Haywire Ray, the biography and reflections of the titular illusionist--the Editor of Hocus Opus Press denounced my work as “a pure work of imagination,”
We wait in the car while the engine purrs / and I shiver in my Woody sweater / like it’s raining outside
The father stares down ten-year-old Darien. The boy rises and walks to the corner to wait for the light, then steps into the street and picks up the bottle. He brings the bottle back to his father.
Moving house is moving between / pockets of time and space
I sip my drink and read a book. The drink is fruity, over sweet, and alcoholic -- I hate drinking in the daytime, but I am on vacation and play the part. The book, it’s okay. If nothing else, it shades the irksome sun from my face.
He ignored his customers’ penetrating glares and sly whispers and began stacking cage eggs.
there are no giants / there are no talking fish / there is no megalodon, / the dream is over.
Droplets of sweat and rain threaded through the front of his hair as he blinked through the white lights in the front of the restaurant towards the large faux-rock counter.
Trans culture is finding an old t-shirt / from your bottom drawer, / and immediately putting it back / to avoid a weird nostalgic feeling.
We collect symbols and consume symbols and sometimes are consumed by symbols.
— after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
may you hunt me like a standoff of village
“For those of you who did arrive on time” he paused shooting Terence a glance, “the meeting today will be hideously punctuated by the untimely death of our colleague Terence. We are expecting the incident about halfway through the meeting, agenda item five.”
Spent so much time at work this week
Scant seconds to right / Before the video clock start
You’re not sure if you’re sleepy or uncomfortable, if your heart is stopping every few seconds by your hand or hers, there is something rotten about being mortal and even this crush-love—
freedom from a false sense of connection
healing the land will not come from working beyond our means
I found myself somewhere between pleasure and fear. Surely that unflinching stare was searching for the very essence of my soul.
Last Wednesday, there she was, sitting in the corner by the $675 splattered paint on wall by local artist installation when she saw it, approaching from the entrance and using the handicapped button to help it because without muscles it no longer had a strong grip.
First, take the brown vase / take the one close to it too, the vase with oriental motifs
“Remind me again why you’re writing a burn piece about yourself.”
other title ideas included / Fear and Railing in New York / Getting Railed on a Hammock
viva la punk / viva el diablo / somewhere havin a laugh / they say god hates rock n roll / that’s ok because rock n roll hates god
The two detectives in front of me looked at each other, as if having a private conversation, and then back at me. The detective on the left, Detective Dowdy, leaned back in his seat and squinted. The disbelief in his eyes is clear.
Borderline broadcast / crocheted - haphazardly / by grandma’s arthritic fingers.
At night I can feel my dreams crawl out and inject themselves into your side, I can feel the veins of the pillows pulsing through to each other.
It’s so easy to have this idea of yourself and then not really live up to it.
The times were far from happy, but they were stable and predictable in their badness, and that was almost good, in its own way.
There’s a cockroach wiggling in, above, and behind-below my gut
I do miss that sky.
This is not Apple Strudel’s first showing. She’s been shown from the Milky Way to the Pisco Nebula.
Love is a memory. Love is a memory that’s present, / A memory not resolved, not passing into past,
All through winter life burnt; all through spring. / Autumn, a spoke on the same wheel, will repeat
The fire danced, made the shadows quiver. The pile of mail, the letter opener on the cabinet, the single bookshelf: all creeping in at the edges of the darkness.
you can never be an ocean / if you’re afraid to make waves
Home plate the man hole cover / Pitcher’s mound that line of orange spray paint
“What Should we do with the body?”
It bifurcated at the chin and it bulged at the cheeks. It certainly did look like the objects being mimed.
Behind your grandfather's credenza / I found a photograph,
Periodically, I've wanted to extend my youth, / When all the magic seemed to lose its spark,
Eventually the two put their finger guns away as if it had been a draw as each one backed away to different sides of the room.
Trouble was, there was a lot of trouble. Questions I didn’t understand, even though I worked there. A month or so before, I’d run into a group of art-school people sitting together around the curve of a bar, nice people, friendly.
There has been silence in the car for much of the hour-long drive. You have been mostly present but what is there to say. Honey, I'm sorry that I wrapped the car around a tree and for the last few weeks I've been a vegetable doesn't seem to cut it.
Blood showers on hot tin roof / Cain kills Abel to / Tenth Avenue jazz band tune / Blood mingles with sidewalk / Mingles with dandelion
I say my goodbyes to my parents and my sister. I expect you to pat my back, but instead you pull me into a hug and I breath in the aftershave you have recently started using. I want this moment to be the start of a love story.
CW: Hospital Imagery
Is this a Copperhead?
I measure the rest of the time in empty envelopes / and the mechanic whirring of a fleet of slicing jaws. / There are only so many ways to spell cancel, and I’ve seen them all.
I walked into Mr. Pfloe’s office and sat in the chair facing his desk. I could feel his eyes on me as I smoothed my skirt over my legs.
there’s so many options / all of the classics are there / pong, pacman, and others / but you decide to go with / tic tac toe / (your personal favorite)
Names are meaningless. They just hide the nothingness from us for a little while.
A student gave me Superman’s cape, a parting gift when leaving my class. I put it on to pick my daughters up, watched it flutter a little in the wind and I guess the glasses pull together the whole Clark Kent look. The little one sucks on the corner
It might only be a 20 dollar hunk of cardboard from Target, but we threw it together in about half an hour with the proper A1 flap into the proper A1 slot and with a little coloring it’s a regular food truck slinging whatever we have on tap for
CW: Drug Use
CW: Graphic Violence
Do the macarena, the cupid shuffle, the hoedown throwdown,
I wish I could tell him of the benefits of birding.
remember years ago / it feels like a multiverse
CW: Alcohol Abuse
Now please move that finger from the center of my left palm to the middle of my open wrist. This was the first movement you ever did when I met you standing at the bar like Samson.
I loaded the tape into the VCR. It didn’t need to be rewound.
A Collaborative Poem
If camping seaside & reading poetry & smoking comically large cigarettes is going Le Fou count me gone
CW: Drug Use
what must kill you the most is that you know this
I liked to think that my spontaneous combustion was due to God not liking me very much
It’s not enough to make it through the day
Almost gnat-like—this annoyance of flesh, this cicada sound between bones.
Honk if you love me—honk like you mean it.
“But this is a handful, right? It fits in my hand.”
I'm going to listen to that Neyo song, because for some reason it always makes me feel better.
“But we’re dog people, Qiptyn.” Bathory’s vocal fry made the statement sound whinier than it was. “Emoji deserves the best.”
We’d met the night before at a Meetup group for shy people. She told me she was Nigerian, just passing through, wanting to escape the punishing heat of her hometown and a family trauma.
Did you notice / how long I lingered, / my nose pressed against your neck,
“All those injuries, man. I can’t believe all those injuries. Think they can pull it out?”
(just policy) (station whistle) (loser diction)
My child, my child, my child, My child, My child, there are bobcats hiding
Still, you are caught in Mike Osterman’s gravitational pull, like so many others.
They want to know if Doug has a message for its devoted followers, if it’s a force of good or evil, if it has chosen Gerard as its prophet.
It’s as if landlords looked at that vitruvian man n’ decided / that every body has a one-track-mind. The golden ratio is just ur shitty prop;
Violet knew the secret of the gods and why they are gods
by Sean Ennis It is true that there are too many guitars in this world, all the strumming and plucking. Grace puts on Lee Montgomery or Bob blabbermouth Dylan and it’s like she’s trying to hurt my feelings. “This is American music,” she says. We’re sort of
the worst thing about cleaning is you always have to clean
in the livingroom i thought it was the coolest thing i’d ever seen
At the trial, the convict’s mother, who wished to retain her dignity, sat stone-faced while the court pronounced her youngest son’s fate: first-degree murder, 30 years to life.
except it was there. Injury / happened to other people, / but I never gave it much thought.
The worst part is / I signed up for this, / and keep coming back for more.
Another wood knock. Hard to tell how far away, or even from which direction. The scene is an inversion now.
A baseball, on the other hand, is something everyone can agree on.
Ranging from ecstasy to dampened mood
Life is a party so let’s make the most of it
It’s the first time in three months I’ve heard so much English, and between the bull and the barbeque, I can almost mistake it for home.
There was comfort in all these things, like I was placing my isolated act of snacking in my recliner, alone in a small room, into a framework of collective experience.
Of course, the entire Council, as a whole, was disgusted by Mrs. Cartwagon’s obvious lack of concern for the law, but we decided to let that go so that we could hear the rest of the story.
If you find a doorknob in the trash...
“Gay sex, by definition, is transgressive.”
A visual poem by Jill McCabe Johnson - "The body is a situation" Melissa Mathewson
A visual poem by Jill McCabe Johnson
I didn’t know I’d had a heart attack until the morning after, once the stent was in and I’d had a good night’s sleep flat on my back with a weighted pillow on my upper thigh where the surgeon cut into my femoral artery.
CW: talk of muscles and bones, dysphoria
CW: fire/smoke, death, religious trauma
“My Stuff Out in Tucson” is an eerie foreshadowing of the events that unfold in the writer’s forthcoming novel, Good-Bye, Lo Siento. You can follow him on Twitter at @lakemarkham for updates.
Late again, amid a forgotten torrent of bleach
Everyone knows the heart pumps blood in
Grown-ups were always telling us to make a wish; when blowing out our birthday candles, when finding a four-leaf clover, when snapping the wishbone on the chicken after Sunday lunch.
“i’m old fashioned”
“Anthony, look what I found.” Tara’s kid shakes me awake. When I turn my head, particles of sand come unstuck from my face. “It’s beach glass, right?”
Because what does it mean anyway
Of all the animals in the Mojave Desert, the desert cottontail is among the more overlooked.
When I find Rumphous, two miles outside of town, he has devoured a family of cats and is growling at a boy and his dad, who are locked in their car, too scared to get out.
Overnight, we are spring again.
the articulated skeleton / of the rooster with / his boiled chest,
Mask, shirt, sweatshirt, pants, socks, shoes, each a different shade of black. Sheet music. Clarinet. Bass clarinet. Backup reeds and backup reeds and backup reeds. Unnecessary pencil.
“We’ve got to clean up the garbage,” she says.