Category Archives: Poetry

“Post-Elegy” – Fiction by Sneha Subramanian Kanta

The Mouth of Darkness – Victor Hugo, 1856

“Post-Elegy” is Sneha Subramanian Kanta‘s lovely, dark, and deep poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

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IS IT AN ELEGY WHEN YOU PRAY
for everything that tried to
kill you but did not? How you
delivered breath after breath
out of your nostrils to add the
world? I don’t need words to
describe the silence that can be
lodged into bodies as years roll.
I have reached my lost loved
ones in the brevity of letters
they will never read. We let go
the minute we love. We don’t
learn to love, we love as though
we’d been there all along, our
eyes cast beyond the distance.
Once, I stood by the surface
of a river & counted stars
through their reflections. Tell
me the light we forget to love
has guided us through the dark.
I dream dark as a forest of olive
green leaves where we wander.
The dark moves our dead. Faint
light coaxes the earth to escape.
The earth shatters a little. The
sun rises from the underbelly of
an ocean. We eat the light. We
rise like ghosts with parched
mouths into the last silence.

{ X }

SNEHA SUBRAMANIAN KANTA is a recipient of the Charles Wallace Fellowship 2019 at the University of Stirling, Scotland. An awardee of the GREAT scholarship, she has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. She is the author of Synecdoche (The Poetry Annals) and Prosopopoeia (Ghost City Press). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal and poetry reader for Palette Poetry.

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“Newsfeed” – Poetry by William Lessard

The Sensational News – Rene Magritte, 1926

“Newsfeed” is William Lessard‘s  fantastically uber-modern poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

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TAKING THE 8th AEVENUE L
to get a seat going east

 

the pride of non-migratory birds that managed to eat through winter

 

video of woman folding laundry
slowed to ten hours
—domesticity,
the new #kink

 

Pope going off-message,
suggesting dustpan
awaits us at the bottom of the steps

 

FB data profile defines me as “very liberal,”
tone of Thanksgiving uncle implied

 

acorn aggro

 

asking white people with dreadlocks “why?”

 

Benjamin using “loss of aura” as getaway car

 

empire thinks
it’s a lot better looking than it is

 

5 pizza rolls acquired (because additional 15,000 was not available)

 

hoping it will be April
sometime in May or June

 

Russian spy poisoned 50 miles south of London had been looking for a cure for his cough

 

passing away
after a brief wellness

 

Barthes pretends to talk to mother on payphone that chirps Heidegger in his ear

 

wondering what the “it” phone is
that celebrities are throwing at assistants

 

posting oasis
beneath my nose on Airbnb
promoting with photos
tiny people napping/making love
along my upper lip

 

ketchup slices shaped like cheese singles but looking like fruit leather

 

kombucha as mythical country
where everyone has great abs

 

text-based
tuna
time warp

 

hungry for a fresh semiotic
—the old categories blurred on new menu with Lilliputian font, Brobdingnagian prices

 

the defenestration of Chet

 

friend says he’s out “Herzog-ing,”
his term for walking in the desert and considering the Abyss

 

morning show for night people that begins at 1 p.m.

 

review of the Bowie show at Brooklyn Museum:
it was nice to revisit a time
when people still believed in the future

 

bed that folds
upon itself
to protect
sleepers during earthquakes

 

—Dracula’s enforced nightly entombment; the robot version

 

rows of cartoon food
in the base of the crypt;
can’t be the Apocalypse if there’s snacks

 

Tuesday
taco
Talmud

 

choosing the Chekovian
whenever someone asks “what’s wrong?”

 

FB reminds me that 5 years ago today
i was floating over the city
—arms, legs spreading
a leaf’s expanse

 

woman blames “windy day” for cocaine found in purse

 

precious bead of obsidian placed in the blowhole

 

Clarice Lispector drawing stippled line
along the horizon of her eyelid

 

line she calls her “velvet lathe”

 

man with diamond bow tie mistaking it
for one of her sentences

 

Imaginary as the punch you never threw

 

desiring-machine,
tonight lacking toilet paper

 

no palm trees in Marxism

 

theory the gaze that thinks nudity is molecular

 

Tarkovsky ordering lunch
for all the hungry tummies in The Zone

 

when the worst
thing you did today
was cream cheese

 

digging
for the person you were promised
a few layers down

 

woman on my right
burns 650 calories;
man on my left
guzzling
bright blue liquid
burns 70

 

being old means hating yourself for the right reason

 

Louise saving a seat at the center of the cage

 

meat ecology

 

spectators on the other side of the border
watch the bombings
from beach chairs

 

Toulouse
tiki
tattoo

 

woman asks “chaise longue or chaise lounge?”
—linguistic Waterloo

 

in the pig fight,
the pig
always has
the home field advantage

 

trailer for a new restoration

 

pink light
sparking

 

you will hear music until your call is answered

 

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WILLIAM LESSARD has writing that has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s, American Poetry Review, Best American Experimental Writing, HobartBrooklyn RailHyperallergic. His visual work has been featured at MoMA PS1.

“Monologue in a Room with the Portraits of My Dead Brother” – Poetry by Nome, Emeka Patrick

The Raven – Odilon Redon, 1882

“Monologue in a Room with the Portraits of My Dead Brother” is Nome, Emeka Patrick‘s haunting & elegiac poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

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YOU WERE MY BROTHER UNTIL your eyes wore a dragon’s breath until your hands grew into an orchard of blood until your mouth unwound into a coffin. May the blood that hums in our veins like a river knifing past a dark forest bear me witness. I love you brother with all the birds psalming in my bones. I love you o brother. In this sanctuary that’s my mouth, brother there’s a prayer burning wild –a lamp in the wrinkled hands of a monk searching God in a dark room. You were my brother until the ten o’ clock news says a young man walks into a market with explosives strapped to his body like a life jacket. On the TV your face appears like a surprise & so it is. A scar glitters like a promise on your neck & so it is. How you got the scar: we were god’s descendants in a garden one afternoon when you said let’s play a game –a game of stones. Everything always started with you even the morning fajr. You hurled your stone but I ducked. Mine stabbed your neck into spittle of warm blood. We both knelt like two unfurling hibiscuses. We both cried like a night wind behind a chariot until the ambulance came. & today the scar glitters on every neighbour’s screen. That’s your lips o brother where prayers & ablutions grew wings & flew into the heavenly nest of a whistling God beyond. O brother the dancing firefly in a dark museum. O brother the lonely lamb where the forest is wildest. Until your eyes wore the skin of night & your hands grew into a garden of cold fallen leaves, you were the vision I never had. You were all the places I always dreamt of. You were the only prayer I learnt to keep in my heart before opening it into Allah’s eyes. O you were my only dear brother. How do I pray for your soul when every song that leads me to you is a dirge stuck on a raven’s beak?

{ X }

NOME, EMEKA PATRICK is a blxck bxy & student in the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he studies English language and literature. He is a recipient of the Festus Iyayi award for excellence (Poetry) in 2018. His works are published or forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gaze Journal, Crannóg magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in a small room close to banana trees and bird songs in Benin. He’s on twitter, say hi @paht_rihk

“Hey Joe” – Poetry by Jeremiah Driver

Jimi Hendrix – Abdul Mati Klarwein, 1970

“Hey Joe” is one of two gritty & gunslingin’ poems by Jeremiah Driver in our Winter 2019 issue.

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BECAUSE IT’S QUIET AND CRAZY ONE HAS REASON
to pause. Because questions
can fill the space between two people
and open anybody wider than another’s answers.
Because a truth that can be told
isn’t true. Where you goin’

with that gun in your hand? Because the first note
transforms Jimi from Jimi

who becomes a teller who is asking
Joe, who is not Jimi,
nor the person Jimi is not
the gun.

We listen because someone will die
someone will murder
because he caught her messing round with another man
but the shot is not heard. There are notes,
chords, and rhythm—blues: polyphonic shuffling

dysfunction that functions to melt people’s brains
so that the daemon can live
as long as people listen.

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JEREMIAH DRIVER earned an MFA in Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, won the Thomas Lux Award, has been a horse trainer, a service member in the United States Army, worked heavy construction in Manhattan, and taught literacy/ writing in Queens and the Bronx. He blogs at jeremiahdriver.wordpress.com. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in TerminusColumbia JournalUCity ReviewPrairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, and Piecrust.

“Santarella Garden” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

The Bride – Gertrude Kasebier, 1902

“Santarella Garden” is Kailey Tedesco‘s beautifully bizarre poem of blood & bridehood from our Winter 2019 issue.

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SWEET

on its own is not a word to conjure anything of the sort. Santarella was not home to me, yet blood runs down
my leg and into the drain of its shower.

Santarella asked to be invited into me, and I said yes. Santarella’s reflection is only seen
on the surface of its own ponds.

The photographer tells me to be serious for just a goddamned second, but I’ve forgotten that I’m the bride.

In every photograph, I’m laughing with the many hors d’oeuvres, somewhere
in the background.

The symbol of our marriage is up at the peak of the silo, with the dark and all the stars. Without it, nothing
can proceed as usual.

Is it good luck to have blood run down my leg and into Santarella’s shower? I’m asking this to everyone I see, just before I lean to kiss them on the cheek.

With each kiss, I remember I’m the bride.

Is it good luck to have fingernails full of Santarella?

The soil is crawling into me, like a tantrum. It wants to be put to bed. Moss wounds my gown, yet I must
reach the top of the silo before the photographs are taken and I forget
that I’m the bride.

In every photograph, I’m crawling on my hands and knees up the Santarella garden, like a freak storm. It’s
snowing in September. I lie there in it, knowing I may fall asleep and never wake.

When I rise my gown rises with me. The snow has cleared and we have sun for our photographs.

On the way to Santarella, blood got on the driver’s seat. I was never the bride in my entire life. As I drove up
the Santarella garden, it became so goddamned dark.

(Goddamned is used here incorrectly. The dark was not damned by any god. It was just sweet. Like blood.)

The candle light could not penetrate the dark. It grew too quickly all around me. The Santarella garden became
a sound instead of a place, and I had difficulty experiencing it fully. The guests
of the wedding only spoke to me in spells.

But the dark scabbed over my body and my gown and my blood like a new skin
and that is what I wanted the whole time. More than anything.

Once I was inside the dark, I could experience everything fully.

And so I walked up the Santarella garden and spiral wooden staircase and into the shower with checkered tile and I bled what I needed to into its drain.

And the sun shone on the pond, of course, because everything was of the dark now including the sun. Including me. My bouquet was so moody and when I tossed it, it almost refused

to bleed out from the darkness and into the drain of the shower.

I am the bride, I remembered, and it shows in every photograph.

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KAILEY TEDESCO is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing) and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press). Her second collection, Lizzie, Speak (winner of White Stag Publishing’s poetry contest) will be released in early 2019. She is the co-founder of Rag Queen Periodical and an editor for Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her work featured or forthcoming in Fairy Tale Review, Prelude, New South, fields, Bone Bouquet Journal, and more. For further information, please visit kaileytedesco.com. 

“Knives, nails and keratin” – Poetry by Alice Riddell

La temperanza, Woman Holding a Knife –
Konstantinos Parthenis, 1938

“Knives, nails and keratin” is Alice Riddell‘s raw & piercing poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

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AFTER ONE TWO MANY,
She rips the nails from their beds
Like children on Christmas morning,
Eager to open
A fantasy of something else.
But there is only coal
And air exposed on rawness.

Having eleven stitches into her chin
Felt like a bow
Tied by her mother.
Smart for church,
All dressed up
In that robe,
Where blood ran down
Between her breasts.
Kitchen knife,
Two K’s
But the silence of the last haunts her,
Its noiselessness
Cuts flesh and screams.

She digs
With small white keratin,
Not the ripped ones
Some are saved
For this very occasion.
They mark
Like crescent moons
On a powder dusk sky,
The shoulder and neck canyon
The valley of palms and wrists
Reflected back.

Pinches;
Like ants
Like too-tight denim
Like winter winds
Like plucking eyebrows
Like her sister,
Her mother made her wear mittens to school
Because she nipped other kids,
Nip sounds better than pinch
Pinch is only one letter away from punch.
She painted the most beautiful blues,
Lapis Lazuli slaps
Violent violets
Sucker for shallow skulls.

She watched the glow
Of the cigarette lighter
Its receptacle invitation,
Its perfect finger shaped hole
To burn off those remaining.
Licked by invisible flames
Sucked out of soreness
By salvia,
By means of salvation.
Fingertips aflame are like burning bridges,
They frizzle and melt into themselves
Only to regrow again more painfully.

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ALICE RIDDELL is originally from the U.K. and is currently studying at NYU’s Center of Experimental Humanities. She is Editor-in-Chief of an interdisciplinary journal called Caustic Frolic and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Breadcrumbs Mag, Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Anthropolitian. Alice has also read her work as part of the Dead Rabbits Reading Series. She is an avid table tennis player.

“Bombshell / Laughter Slaughter” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

“Bombshell / Laughter Slaughter” is one of four fantastically flappy poems by FLAPPERHOUSE’s poet laureate, Jessie Janeshek, in our Winter 2019 issue.

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I’M GIVING UP BEING SAD ABOUT TIME
                over it, over it.
I lie in this game and hem-stitch my waste
                launch paper ships
never realize the fizz      stringy meat      rusty keys
                stow my dress in the basket
nipple ice and no slip     the contrast is stunning.
                I lie nude in the sun      dogshit on the snow
the consolatory song of corpse in the morgue at my feet
                how she slumped on her steering wheel
knocked her gold tooth loose
                the death of the party.

I never believed platinum days could end in olive oil baldness
                two months of ooze. I didn’t need mystery
the black and white dots            or The Girl from Missouri
                nothing left but a fish kiss
and my pants don’t fit
                and it’s ok that my weakness is brilliance
I’m just acting whatever you say
                I’m already set to die in this bedroom
eleven phases of white       chokecherry stage
                I was rotting long before Hollywood
a cheaply-cut sapphire       barmaid singing in stripes
                following men with pool cues down to the tornado shelter
eating raw steaks and making them gangsters
                weeping trees, houseflies poetic.

And I was the sunflower             brownette drinking gin
                with that old-fashioned death in my chest
my body barely holding together
                my blood and piss flooding the plains
and they ghostwrote this story but I’m over that too
                I’d swear anytime it was mine.

Note: This poem very loosely uses the life and death of Jean Harlow.

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JESSIE  JANESHEK‘s second full-length book of poems is The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press). Her chapbooks are Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia(dancing girl press, 2016), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, 2018), and Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming). Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010) is her first full-length collection. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. You can read more of her poetry at jessiejaneshek.net.