Scoundrel Time

Poetry

Two Poems By Virginia Beards

Song for the Camo Girls and Boys “You know in Africa no woman ever misses her lion and no white man ever bolts.” -The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Ernest Hemingway   They grin from ear to ear In camo artfully splotched For grinning...

Poems By Erin Hoover

PR Opportunity at the Food Bank It’s Thanksgiving and I’m at a dinner service with a journalist, trying to wedge my fable about urban generosity into the newsroom’s mollusk heart. I stand next to mothers, their kids shouting Christmas carols, also...

The Peace Grant

No singing of any kind. All year the rooms dark. Then a week of lights. The owners have returned, their daughters haunt the balconies. One of them looks at me and doesn’t look away. A thousand years pass. Whatever happened in that moment, what...

Not Seeing the Friend of God

To get to the Old City of Hebron, al-Kahlil, medieval Ottoman city of white and lustered limestone and to the souk where chickens roasted on rotisseries, lambs and rabbits hung on meat hooks, wasps buzzed near bins of nuts and candies, and I bought...

Portfolio: Six Poems by Jill McDonough

Spelling “Prostitutes” I volunteer at a juvie, call it kid jail. We play a homemade Boggle, make all the words  we can, make Mad-Lib things with them like this: lip split from slipping in shit, I sit and sip spilt spit.  We write Fast Poems...

My 6th Grade Teacher

Mr. Barren chose two boys each week to swim with him at the downtown Y back when it was male-only–to swim nude in the cool chlorinated waters amid schools of old men, their buoyant testicles and laps without end. One girl got to sit on his lap...

Girltrap

I This game is a machine involving bowling balls, sipping birds, boots, babies, bullets, pulleys, and rope. Begin at the beginning. Measure the natural waist with tape and a wandering eye. Correct with strings pulled tight, tug with a foot in the...

Toothpaste

Translated by David Keplinger I danced with virtuosity, swingingly, elegantly, with two gorgeous short-haired women, as if I were Gene Kelly dancing with a young Méret Oppenheim and her twin. But it was a trick, a grift, a con. The women were...

Penult

Almost at the end of his long journey, but not quite near the end of his troubles, Ulysses, inveterate veteran of the endless war to wipe a culture off the map–maybe not for the first time– landed alone, abandoned by his men’s...

The John Doe Poems

John Doe at the Funeral Not a mourner just a bass player backing up the family on Will the Circle Be Unbroken nodding my head in prayer like I mean it like I believe it and almost I do when I watch Chummy get up and Big Steve and A.J. all these old...

Plasticity

Of course we might change the brain, and the President might one morning wake and learn the world is huge and heartbroken. Given practice, new neurons might meet and send enough signals back and forth and he’d see with his tongue, map his bedroom...

In the Dark Times

In the dark times Will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times. —Bertolt Brecht There will be prayer, too, but to a different god, and dread will lurk in the songs we sing. Doom in the timpani no matter what the tune...

Four Poems By Amanda Newell

For Adam, my student, in Walter Reed “Take One!” says the sticky by the AFG decals, but I don’t, though I want to, because—really— I have no claim to sacrifice, no stump swinging like a wind-wild bell, no appled fist, no marbled skin. Quite possibly...

The History of Wrongs

will take a while, doodle all you want. Dot a pupil on each pearl stacked to distraction on the margin. Argus froth out a hundred eyes of which by turn did sleep always a couple and the rest… Scribble the obvious. Life, friends, is… I cross-hatch...

Casino in Coharie Nation

Around a hairpin turn, not quite hidden inside a forest that has been trampled for tourism, strip malls disguised as native villages, façades of man-made wood, green confetti like grass littering the parking lot, wind catchers and arrows, tiny...

Eve Speaks

“ . ..and when they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother Abel and killed him.” –Genesis 4:8 Not the exile, nor the ceaseless toil, nor the pain of childbirth or the shame of nakedness; not the withering of blossoms, or the slow...

Comey: Cut-up

And then the nature of the person To lift the cloud Criminal in nature Turning Grandfather clock A whole lot of personal pain Lifting the cloud Being somebody who loves this country These were lies The nature of its work As a cloud Grandfather clock...

The Beginnings of Sorrows

In my country, number one for billionaires, prisoners, franchises offer menu consistency. What lies dormant today in the collective unconscious? Akin to tintype, sun prints itself on structures and skin. As we age our vocabularies expand with names...

The Well

Of the two men at the well, one is the bucket the other is lowering, hand over hand, into the well, a rope strung around the bucket man’s shoulders, beneath his arms, between his genitals and thighs. The weight of the bucket man is making the rope...

James Franco Private Event

It is snowing outside in the woods of New Hampshire, each flake unique and crafted by James Franco. The radish in my wax paper bag of carrots and celery—it is the face of James Franco shaking up my lunch. James Franco has designed a line of...

Next Election

Maybe inject chlorophyll beneath skin to grow own food as we go. Maybe clutch in each palm handfuls of fat as hedge against vanishing animals. Maybe class up cursing with smattering of Latin. Maybe drive to supermarket stunned by afternoon sun faint...

Against All Evidence

Because we cannot believe in God the Monster entirely but believe in God the Monster a little, we’ll never be elected. We own these souls. Won’t someone fix them, uncover and preserve forever patches of sidewalk sun to sit in? In this game we walk...

Things We Say

After latest tragedy, let’s drift asleep listing words for what fish oblivious in waters do: plunge, glide, dive, sway. Our daily allowance of banalities includes again that strange phrase, “realistic fiction.” Among many nevers: Billionaire or...

Final Animal

Translucent amphibian or molecular invertebrate, scavenging rodent or stubborn ungulate, whatever it is endures all manner of onslaught for that imaginable unimaginable forthcoming moment it’s the last thing blinking and breathing in landscape...

How to Build a Monument

Carving out the walls of Zion A desert river called The Virgin Urged us to sit that night. You know. The night my head caught fire And the stars kept falling And the splash of moon on the water made it certain That earth and sky go on and on and on...

It Will Rain

At the salty rim we long for raindrops, umbrella-shaped dancing on a picnic plate, settling down the dust in their hurry to spill old water into rusty tanks, surprising clover from ceded ground. The same precious well will mount on the same well...

Wing Banger

I have heard a cicada crawled out of the dark silences of the mountain after years eating its heart out, to join its luck its wet green wings clicking to the mountain choir dewdrop blackbird twig-snap stone-throw and the wind playing on things...

Greeting

New white folks
in the neighborhood
don’t know to greet
a stranger on the street.
They don’t mean
to be rude.
How long will it last, then –
How ya doing?
Eye to open eye.

Pox Americana: A Roll Call: 5/4/17

(@ the 217 Congressional Representatives who voted to “repeal & replace” the ACA, each one up for reelection in 18 months) You will someday sicken and someday, sure as taxes, vote no more. You will someday sicken and someday, sure as taxes, vote...

Words Fail Me

And it’s not one of these old-age lapses caused by blinking brain synapses. And it’s not a matter of speechless awe at something I just saw on YouTube—a toilet-flushing cat, or commensurately gifted brat. Sometimes, it’s true, I lose a noun or two...

Porcelain and Glass

Summer halfway trundled up, the July rain rasps down our nighttime roof and window glass, the road out front rivering to ruts of pebbled sand, where soil bleeds veins between clumps of grass. At dawn the cat stands stunned at doorway’s edge, tail...

Incident at the Western Border

She vanished before they could shoot her: left only an atmosphere of mist, brume of body which blew inland in a myriad of droplets, a haze of nard and cinnamon touched softly with myrrh and cassia, floating like pamphlets scribbled in a foreign...

swell

  I have never had a mother, or, no longer have or, once did, briefly, for a day or two. Perhaps she was only mine   during the wet crown of hours I spun my skull through her ripe & widening cunt, then fastened to her nipple—   a...

the last time

I did it alone. Not in bed where I’d willed myself dead for so many years I became apparition not in the bathroom where I fed my body to a hungry blade & cut down my hair with a match. It was not in the arms of the man I tried over & over to...

fusillade for my mother’s brain

  You spoiled mound complicated by static you skull-born satellite launched from a splintered mirror you doom-hatched agony steady as piss you childless guilt scorched in fog you blazing delirium un-teaching my name you sideshow daydreamer...

dead radio apostle

Heels in stirrups, knees pitched above my hips, I am blinded by every measured breath required before each push— a cold, unnatural discipline. I was taught to focus on something in the room, to distract from the hell-rigged pain knifing me from the...

glutton

you write poems to understand what you cannot understand. name the beast you’ve been trying to outrun your entire life. you’re forty & it’s time to stop avoiding. halt the fogged spin of language that redirects the eye. say what you mean...

Dura Mater

I carried death inside me for several days, waiting That man had no ticket to the concert; he pressed his ear to the wall, but no song found him Bees were swarming; they made sleeves and a hood around me when I stood still All winter a deep booming...

Vanishing Point

For as far as we can see, they trudge across swirling sand toward us At the gate, one child’s blinks, such a uniform degree of metronomic motion with inky lashes—they seem to make an audible click, the second hand of memory, calligraphic Tropics of...

“Appropriate and Just”

 

Diplomacy? A bother and a bore.
In fact, who needs a diplomatic corps?
Who needs cables and epistles?
When you launch a bunch of missiles,
you can lift your polling numbers from the floor.

Greens

The city built a retaining wall at the edge of the cemetery to prevent old bodies from sliding out onto the street. Take the civic hand and walk in the sun. Whether or not you have lost everything, there is nothing to lose in finding yourself on the...

Colony

A splash of gasoline, a match, my brother poking it with a shovel. I was too young to have an opinion yet knew it was wrong. Even if the haystack pile of it grew each day more troubling beside the swingset, beside the prim lines of carrots in the...

Election

Schoolchildren wait in seven, six, five, four straight lines that sway and shimmer as they’re led away until a winged V arrows south, and they see the pointed shape of flight from home, an escape— though they read liberty in motion, not need for...

Flamboyan (Royal Poinciana)

  I always wanted to be that woman That brazen hussy clothed in red The color of a torch singer’s lips or a rooster’s wattle Fecund, inflamed, unashamed My trembling limbs spread wide In rampant, ecstatic bloom Defying you and your mortal fears...

This Is Us (Oxycodone Song)

  What was it Mavis said about the marble, re: Da Vinci, or was it Michelangelo, you know, that the job is, some- how, the careful removal of what isn’t needed—of what’s getting in the way? Something like that? Google it, I said. She’d been the...

The Mothers on the Wall

Stant pavidae in muris matres oculisque sequuntur Pulveream nubem et fulgentes aere catervas. -AENEID VIII 590-1 The fearful mothers standing on the wall, the cloud of dust they follow with their eyes: millennia pass, and nothing’s changed at all of...

American Patriot: A Portfolio

Poems by Jim Daniels, Photographs by Charlee Brodsky   Size Matters Imagine singing “Oh, say, can you see” to a flag you can’t see. That’s what graduate students at the University of Texas at Dallas had in mind when they...

Here

Where do you put the anger and the fear? Hand them over. Here. What do you do with the uncertainty? Pass it to me. The sadness, the foreboding, all the rest? I bare my breast. The blustering threats, the dark and stormy skies? Look into my eyes...

Isolated Splendor

I was aping Mussolini in a pizzeria when the American I fell for called me an asshole, not an overreaction in Roma, the city responsible for romantics like Caligula and Berlusconi. Later that night, soccer hooligans attacked the riot cops, the...

Still Life w/ Gay Lil’ Patriots

yu so fun so danger so smoke so ready 2 deady [next stop: F I R E W O R K S spend $ & get &z off] we bubble buy blame bead up the sky w blood [the libertree thirsty & i wonder what this b 2 me] as yr local majikal hapahaole mite say a...

Murillo’s Saint Catherine, c. 1650

–Hospital de los Venerables, Sevilla She stares with a bearing – experience having brought her soul this far – and lifts a frond, one kind of sword, in one hand, effortless. In the other, clutched to her, the silver plated sword of her own...

Bonnet

The woman on the waste site tour bus wore the kind of bonnet my grandmother kept in her purse for emergencies. She squared her shoulders in front of us, the plastic kerchief knotted to her head and not a cloud in the sky. Our guide in charge of...

Congrats! The Revolution Is Now

buff buffe / buffer buff/reibu / buffrebufffring / & fervently awaitin ya pass       code o, word      ? we wonder how we will in2       existence: amazonial primal access & 1070p rejection      o’ taxes science will save ya ass / a seat...

Report a Problem With This Poem

—as noted on the Poetry Foundation website This poem isn’t meant for you or for anyone, really— hairpin scratches in wet clay, hardly cuneiform, whatever came to mind then left as quickly. Resistant, like a child whose fist clamps around a...

My Sister and I Are Having the Same Dream

Long after nights of arm-tickling across the chasm between our twin beds, after all the shared illnesses of childhood—spiking fevers doused in crystalline alcohol, such pungent, icy baptisms, after the honeyed scabs of measles and of falls, years of...

Flyover

My Midwest is two old women: The first, a neighbor, who watched the delivery man lug the huge spring water jug, slung on his back like firewood, to my door. Bulbous glass, as slippery as our icy back steps, but foreign, exotic to her, with a name...

Life Is So Good Here

Barbecue smell drifts over from the river. Too much lighter fluid splashed in the pouring. Flares of sudden fire. Parkland. Given: a family, Dad home on leave. The kids lead him by the hand, showing him off, he’s theirs. And Mom fully reclined on...

A Word From Our Sponsor

“The bay is blowing gray beneath the sky. The trash fish are fingered From the net and go missing with a flick of the blade. Pity the newborn’s cry into the cold of the clinic. Fear the man whistling along the road beneath a dying sky. Know the last...

Macro

The lizard was green against the wooden reaper. It has come close to this happening many times, but this time The red heart is beating on a stick. You were eyeing the furs in the windows midtown. Teeth get lost in the dark. Your tongue is winding...

Suggested Improvements

The red flyer was posted by the elevator On the ground floor by the mailboxes. Management Has enlisted the utility company To come install new more efficient shower heads, Low-flow kitchen faucet aerators and other Improvements that will save money...

Two Cheers for the Middle Class (Mojave Song)

“Reality,” said my friend Fortunato, a neuroscientist, “is a controlled hallucination.” Just so, the unnamable swims into focus, all teeth and sharp corners.                         A guy at my daughter’s fancy school complains about belt-tightening...

Sleeplessness: Eulene-Style

                                        “Knowing I couldn’t sleep made it harder to try.”                                                                   –Marvin Bell Eulene tries anyway, even though insomnia gallops like...

After the Election, in a Semi-Barbaric Land

After the election, I stare at a door. What’s behind it? Scylla? Charybdis? Maybe a tiger. Or else, a tiger. After the election, witch hazel, stubborn, electric, bursts yellow over Wolf Creek. I’m too sad to get drunk. Gold needles tumble all day...