Two poems - Lisa Locascio

Lisa Locascio's work has appeared in The Believer, Bookforum, n+1, Santa Monica Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and on the Tin House website. The recipient of many awards and honors for her writing, which has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, translated into Italian, and anthologized, she is the first Anglophone writer to be granted an interview by Roberto Bolaño's widow Carolina López, a project which earned mention in The New Yorker and The Los Angeles Times. She holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and a MFA in Fiction from New York University and has taught at USC, UCLA, Colorado College, Mount Saint Mary's University, and New York University. Lisa is Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University, co-publisher of Joyland Magazine, and editor at 7x7, a magazine of ekphrastic collaboration between artist and writers. Her anthologies Golden State 2017: The Best New Writing from California (Outpost19) and Retro 5: The Best of Joyland (Joyland) will be published in 2017. Her novel, Jutland Gothic, will be published by Grove Atlantic in 2018.


It must be grandiose as its muse. Big as a university library. It must have a face and hands and a tiny shrinking penis going full-cat-freakout before a giant vagina dentata, the way they do when the carrier comes out for a trip to the vet.

I must be the red and great fangs in your nightmare stripes. All dark emanating from the spaces between. My legs. My ears. My teeth.

Determined to indulge you this morning, in deference to your fear I was not even so pretty. A professional across a table.And then we began our discussion and you complained that the text in question utterly lacked eroticism. You felt no heat for its men, no differentiation, just a list of dicks. The author’s eyes switched, a tail. Savoring the best hint of real power you will experience in this life, you turned her nervousness in your palm and said you felt in her writing greater desire for her car.

Could imagine her waxing it with her great breasts.

Had imagined.

An illusory breast-waxing of which the narrative needed more.

The author blinked on a smile of allowance. Now I recognized you.

Remember when I was interviewing for a job in Tulsa and you took me to the hotel bar and gave lyric to all that fair skin of mine? Remember when we were in New York and you kept me after class to rhapsodize about your rediscovery of eros as I fiddled with my backpack strap? Remember when I was the girl student in the suburbs of Chicago who wanted to fuck you will all her fiery young heart and in your classroom you danced and joked with me and told me to leave before we had too much fun, and then after graduation you never spoke to me again?

Sometimes my desire makes me scream until I pass out. Sometimes it’s God, on my left arm, and sometimes it’s the knife I stalk you with, on my right.

You are in a black room with a creature whose size you cannot know. The beating of her house-sized heart shakes the world. Her bite is a concerto. Teeth deployed one at a time to exquisite effect.

Raise your eyes. Don’t resist. Don’t try. You don’t have to, not anymore. You don’t have to do anything. Not anymore. Let go. It’s okay. You want to. Close your eyes. I’m here. It’ll only hurt for a minute.


Once it was that moment before going when one turned and thought better. Now it is the thinking better. Now I think it is not what it is not.

Harness, fairness, whip. Cracked it grants seventy years’ best luck; shattered, the dance starts. So we go up and down, me in your arms, the light from the sky dousing us, drying—

Long in the telling. My anxious pregnancy.Knocked up, chimera blooming in my gut, rooting in my blood.

Touch me. Feel: my lie.

There is a lie in my heart and I want to tell it. Beautiful balloon. Air into flame and flame into air. Rise into the violet sky. Get off. Tell all.



Devin Kelly - Two Poems

Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the collaborative chapbook with Melissa Smyth, This Cup of Absence (Anchor & Plume) and the forthcoming collection, In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (ELJ Publications). He is working now on a collection of poems inspired by Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches poetry at Bronx Community College, and lives in Harlem. You can find him on twitter @themoneyiowe.


It began with a river & its crossing,

     a whisker of grain pulled out of a dead

boy’s mouth, fur strung tight & propped

    with bone. A gunshot, a silence, 

& another. Believe me when I say

     I was raised alright. You can

forgive a marriage for having a child

     but you cannot forgive its love.

It began with want & ended with more. 

    I wanted to lower the horizon line

until it hovered before my toes, so that 

    I might step into sky & be bluer

than a feeling. You can say it began

     with rib torn from body; you can 

say clay; you can say dust. Who is it

     you want to excuse from evil?

I was taught love is patient & kind.

     In this, I was taught love, simple

& burning, exists. I am a fool. It began

     with my hand on objects. It ended 

with the way an object can hold a soul,

     become a kind of body. Look around. 

There is nothing here but the high fever

     of waving grass as far as the eye can see. 

There's no room for shadow. When I wanted

     to hide, I had to crawl inside my body. 



Last night in the glow

of an empty parking lot

I stood, the haze of water

hanging from a storm burnt

to orange, the night’s plum

bitten open & left for flies.

I wanted to sit down, wet

my ass on pavement, feel

the purr of everything

buzz against my cheek,

& think of the way my father

sometimes stood for too long

in his underwear looking

at nothing but his own reflection.

When I believed in God

I used his name to stitch together

what I didn’t know. Maybe

I’m wrong about everything –

that the murmur of electricity

singing through a wire singed

by the slow burn of time

is a kind of god. That the hush

of a cloud shying behind

the dark cloak of night just minutes

after crying is a kind of humanity.

You know that feeling too, don’t

you? How you sometimes cry

without crying & how one day

you are struck by a desire

to go home, simply, & sit

by the window near your bed

& do nothing but hear yourself

breathe. You are alive, I know.

Here is the parking lot of your

existence. Notice how the empty

spaces puddle with rainwater,

butts of cigarettes little boats

that know no shore. Here is

the light hanging like dust

caught in another room you

remember now. Here is a memory

of your father in that room. Here

are his feet, the ample simplicity

of his body, how there are days

where you know nothing

but the longing to be held.

& who taught you that? That

the difference between want

& need is only how you make

up your mind. It’s alright,

I want to say. To the lamp,

the throb of a car starting

somewhere, the scream

of someone screaming along

a song through the window

of a bar. I am not always kind.

There are days I give up. The night

thrums like silver dropped

from some great height. I once

held a baby to my face & kissed

her nose for the longest time.

To be wide & soft, to lay

your body down & feel

the gentle moan of everyone

ending their day atop you –

if you told me I could do this,

I would believe in anything.

When I was little, I held

an ear to my father’s gut

just to hear him breathe.

I needed to know

there were others

somewhere in the midst

of all this dreaming.

Life is big & I don’t know

what to do with it. If I have

to sit down, tell me

you will sit beside me.

We will eat each other

like plums. We will hum

a melody that never repeats

itself. We will put our ears

to our bellies, be still, & listen

to the throb still throbbing.



Three Poems - Simon Kim

Simon Kim lives in Chicago and tweets @walcum.

Laguiole Knives

shooting the moon

from a sinking ship. 

a glass drops


we don't. I've always

nevered. I'd like

a life rarely out of

spite. this isn't

really about god

or motion. you'd

returned from the

water as you. this

you cannot destroy.


The Thirty Years War

fool me once you know.

fool me infinite times shame

on god. irksome text & response.

what I should've said wasn't what

I should've said. I am always

repeating myself. we all hustle for

how we'd love. the insolvent scenery.

bats fluttering out across evening.


Don't Quite

I mess up. lyme

disease is forever.

tarantula under

glass. a surface

to snort stuff off

of. I lose poems.

you can read this

& what does

you will. tiny

undies. cats in

the greenery.

public hair.


3 Poems - Rosie Allabarton

Rosie Allabarton is an English writer who lives in Berlin. A graduate of Birkbeck's Creative Writing MA, she is currently working on her debut novel about the family unit and the strange things it does to us. When she's not writing, or trying to write, she likes to eat overpriced banana bread with black coffee. You can see more of Rosie's writing here.


Made up for two

I intervene

taking blankets to the living room;

that grey area that grows

between us.


My dog bed

is wet through

from hot tea and

we clasp chairs close to our chests

like the children you

categorically don’t want

and I do.


We laugh, eyes

on the ground that is temporarily ours;

mine wet, my belly loud

and insincere, chest puffed out

and, catching myself,

I breathe out –

the sound a soft whistle through

gapped teeth. Mine.


On the other side

of the partition door

you Buda, me Pest,

your cough is a bark in the darkness

and later

(ear to wall)

I catch you calling out across the Danube.



There have only been waking states;

holding the morning back with my hands

holding the curtains closed

against thick light

that becomes so easily thin

and frayed at the edges.

It slips through my fingers,

clings to the particles of dust

that lurch through the air;

a crowd

grounded, small patches of joyful filth

making a home on my clothes and skin.

His top lip curls when he says my name and

standing too close he asks a question

he doesn't want an answer to,

the sound of his own voice pearls

in his cloth-ears

sodden with vowels.

The king of that unwanted morning

asks how I am and laughs

when I answer, laughs

before I'e even answered

and under the covers

dust under dust

I kill him nightly in my dreams.



My hair was a crown and

I was a horse

as you walked past the house

and I galloped across the road.

Hooves against glass

I peered through the café window, only

to see us eating eggs

in the dark;

our smiles glowing over coffee,

butter that I thought was cheese and

across the years

that have passed.

It was silent inside and

I snorted.

The chairs were stacked high

on the tables that were islands

and menus fluttered like leaves

to the freshly washed floor.



(Cactus in the Post)

Russell Bennetts is the founder and editor of Berfrois. His books include Relentless (2014) and Poets for Corbyn (2015). Rauan Klassnik is the author of Sky Rat (2014), Holy Land (2008) and The Moon’s Jaw (2013). Bennetts and Klassnik are the co-founders of Queen Mob’s Teahouse.

Tora Borrow dreams of cleavage drenched in snows

when pigeons mate

while Silicon Valley innovates

I cut the red wire

Pierce Brosnan


clubs a seal to death

in every one of his paltry dreams

$$$$ mean everything, DNA


lead raincoats

tongue-whistlers flipping over the pizza slice

to eat it

anything grows


addicted to the frisson of a public house.


Help Out Stamp [

7 sisters, Seven Germanys

Headbutt the day. Please.

i am becoming a girl with a cross round my neck.

i am seeing the way yr voice is a dining rabbit. I can't breathe. Plz Harvard still take me epically,



Closed for loss

Muzak sounds better when you’re spending

Satan, O, that sounds great

red, dead

and a time to bed


There is a reason

Filled with salt and tacos


All for hire, fire

Hair, seven sins]


Drones Legs

Cold fish, so cold to touch burning on his underside fish don’t feel like

we don’t ever feel how can?


I've traveled as far as Birmingham to touch your mouth. You said my lips were thinning.


pausing time as green aeroplanes spiddle 

into buses


call me within the muddle of a sweetened

nite full of rope = hope

ya dope, fill me with iron rope


and drop me into oblivion

where all we do is buy buy buy


bitter, thy name is a strawberry dribbling down

camgirl passwords just threw me into

home             sweet             home


If you love the gym so much you should marry it!

Not just fucking it with such religious ardor. You cheat on him

With donuts, murder and sloth. You

Squeeze a cloth full of

that stolen strawberry suck


And shuck open a poison book. Look, the tale is a-

chicken curry nap running

Over all the cricket re-runs.


The soul puts on its pads.


The soul stands &evening luxury heartbeats

That's all man. A mint as you walk on out.


poems from the red desert


It’s dark and your pants wet to the ankles.

Bottom of a well.

The water becomes ink, blood.


Your hands scrabble rock,

knock dust.


A black

cat hears you.


She hides.


The blood is water again.

Doesn’t matter if it’s tepid,

or freezing.


It soaks you.


“Black cat! Come back!”


She curls her tail.


Green eyes flick.


You’re souring

someone well.




The sun and red eye glower.


Seeds blossom in your blood.


Trees burst into flame: you turn away—

marked and stung,

sick and blind.


If your eye offends you,

cast it out,

or your whole

body will be cast

Into the fire.




If you swallow it,

it dissolves in your belly,


Becomes ash,

Becomes rock,

Becomes jerky.


It veins,




Break its fingers

from your neck. 



Desert god

White chalk,

red rock eureka.


Here, washes

and streams

are scars.


From the fingers of the desert god

drip gold.


From his eyes, quartz.


From his feet, chrysolite

and opal.


Under his soles, sapphires.


No one lives

near his face


hot scrawl.


Painted Desert

In bones are souls.


The petrified tree

knows the painted sun

has drunk her colors.


Hissing rattlesnake,

desert patterned:

diamonds, exes, hexagons.


Joshua tree

smells like churned dirt.


There, you bow, forehead to root,

ribs abandoned to sand.


War/Love Song

From your eyes, dew—

your mouth, flowers.


Like hearts offered

to the desert god,

yours feeds the sun.



Hollow in your pounding ribs:

bad dreams.


A chain saw

popped your tires

and left you in the Mojave

where they'd

dropped rocks

from the sky.



the desert

took over and you became bones.


Millions of years later,

splinters of your body

washed ashore.


Joe Nicholas Poems

I Dwell for a Moment That Penis Sounds Like Penance 

A penis

is a thing,

much like an arm.


It's like a fifth arm.

It can grab




An Invisible Brain Floats Around And Speaks To Us Through The Box in Our Pocket







wi-fi passwords.


Ghost Poem

When a ghost looks in the mirror, it thinks it's the wall. The wall knows better.

The wall knows it's a ghost,

and a wall,


and old paint stuck to older paint. It knows it's blind. It knows the ghost is a ghost.

It knows all ghosts

are walls.


 Everyone Thinks We're Walking Toward Death


when in reality

it's death that's barreling towards us with its horns raised.

It doesn't care if we're moving or not.



Paul Rizza poems

Among other things, Paul Rizza writes poetry on top of jpgs of art masterpieces you learned about in art history class. On the first one I posted (René Magritte's Golconda), Rizza writes about slipping through the sidewalk into a secret place underground, which I'm almost positive is something every little kid sort of thought about when trying not to "step on cracks." Or was that just me? Anyway, it's beautiful and I love it.

The second one written over Degas's L'Etoile is about accepting yourself as you are with all of your beautiful flaws because you are a beautiful ballerina princess dancing for all the world to see with a cute crooked snaggle tooth that is cute, damnit, and if anyone disagrees about that then, well, they can go fuck themselves! Tra-la-la-da-dee.

Want to see more? Go to his Tumblr.

noclip through the pavement

something just snaps in physics

there is an open world underneath

falling unimpeded toward some

secret place under the ground

inaccessible by conventional means

but miss it by an inch and continue on

dropping to the furious molten core

the nice thing about embracing narcissism:

the flaws you have become assets

as your standard of beauty resembles

more and more your reflection


a single crooked tooth

not only stops being bad,

it’s actually quite cute; don’t you think?


the ideal crooked tooth: mandibular central incisor

mine’s on my right but either’s okay

RT if you’d go gay for yourself


Interview with poet and novelist ron koertge

Poet and young-adult novelist Ron Koertge has written dozens of exceptional books of fiction and poetry that have won him lots of awards. His writing is funny and iconoclastic — snarky with a strong dose of pathos.  

Yay, he also agreed to let me ask him some questions about writing and stuff. I particularly loved his comment about the "agony of the blank page." Onward ho, writer! Fill 'er up. Blank pages are for the birds. 

What started you writing poetry? 
I always wrote something, starting in high school. They were lamentable poems, usually about how misunderstood I was. When I went to the University of Illinois, though, I ran into guys who took writing seriously and talked about being writers. So, I hung around with them. In grad school I met the poet Gerald Locklin who was even then writing poems and submitting them to the  —  as they were called then — little magazines. He turned me on to them and some people our age (we were in our early 20's), and pretty soon writing and publishing were just some things I did regularly. 

What sort of thing did you write about when you began?   
Gerry led me to Edward Field and his poems about movies and life-in-New York charmed the pants off me. Clearly, I could write about anything and not just so-called serious things. Before there was the word "snarky" I was snarky and irreverent, a good way to be for the 60's. So, I published a lot for a couple of decades before tastes turned more introspective and language-conscious.   

What was one of the most surprising elements about your life as a writer?    
I'm still surprised I write for kids/teenagers. If I wanted to be a novelist, I imagined it would be for adults. Not adults to be. Someone years ago reminded me I was chronically immature so I should write for 16 year old boys. Turned out they were right. 

If you had a soapbox topic about writing (something you're passionate about/something that bugs you), what would it be?  
I think prose writers should read more poetry. Out loud. I read a lot of really infelicitous prose: the plot drives the story, the characters are riveting, but sometimes the sentences are so clunky. A discipline of reading poetry out loud would help that.  

Is there anything else you would rather have done than write poetry and fiction?    
I love the race track and might have enjoyed life-on-the-backstretch. It's a very interesting sub-culture. But, I think I would have also written about it.   

What advice do you have for poets and/or fiction writers? 
Write a lot and don't be afraid to write badly. Some of the pages I turn out are so embarrassing but my motto is this: what's the gift of this terrible poem? This cringeworthy page? This rough rough rough rough draft? There's always one.   

Any other thoughts?      
It's a pleasure to be able to write. I've never understood the so-called agony of the blank page. Just fill it up! 

Ron Koertge's poetry collections include: the ghazal collection Indigo (2009), Fever (2006), and Making Love to Roget’s Wife (1997). His novels and novels-in-verse for young readers include Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (2006), The Brimstone Journals (2004), and Stoner & Spaz (2004).

Read more of (and about) Ron's poetry and prose at: ronkoertge.com. Or pick up his most recent book of poetry,The Ogre's Wife, and his most recent novel, Coaltown Jesus, published through Red Hen Press and Candlewick Press, respectively.


riojones7, Instapoet

When mindlessly rabbit hole-ing through Instagram feeds, I found these beautiful typewritten Federico García Lorca-reminiscent poems. Each one is a distilled emotion, a tightly-packed newly budding rose. It's fun to imagine the poet standing in front of his gas stove (probably somewhere in Brooklyn) burning the edges of these evocations.     

To read more, visit his Instagram feed @ riojones7. Or, what fun: if you'd like to request a poem, email him at riojonespoetry [at] gmail.com. I think I'm going to do so right now.