Scoundrel Time

Poetry

Deadline

At Camp Sumter, the infamous Confederate prison commonly known as Andersonville, there was a line of wood posts 19 feet inside the walls that the prisoners were not allowed to cross. It was called the deadline. I defrost the bright green soup made...

Fundraising for Planned Parenthood

I ski for them—the nurses and doctors who save women like me from back alley butchers and the ungainly pace of ignorance each slog uphill on skinny boards a penance for the grudge that grew along with the human in my belly,| who owes his life to a...

Three Poems by Jennifer Moxley

One of Everything If Po’ Lightnin’ still be Muse of mine, may he strum a few Orphic chords for my brother Robert, who is soon to be skipping town to avoid his creditors. The Sonoma sunlight, plumper of jammy grapes clutching dusty hillocks, sparer...

from Ceive.

Ceive is a novel in verse that retells the Noah’s Ark story on a container ship. Set in an imagined near-future when extreme weather and gun violence have brought on a collapse of civilization, the book follows the thoughts of a woman named Val as...

Villanelle neuroptera

A mantisfly sunk in Cretaceous amber displays strong forelegs jabbing for the air. They bristle, seeking to reduce its danger. Observing it we wonder which is stranger, that gone world or our own. Consider, here: a mantisfly sunk in Cretaceous amber...

Allen v Farrow

We don’t know what we want or who we are we don’t even agree we are we In a civilized society, my friend says, preface to: we do not hurt children, we do not fuck children, we define childhood, of course we say we do, and we know we mean...

yrs,

how randall signs his emails means he’s mine & vice versa dear randall i miss you too bud & nights at the writers retreat we talked booze & drank big ideas & i’m grateful to read yr new awesome poem i love how summer dies like an old...

Three Poems by Joy Arbor

The Poet’s Wife Bil’in Village, West Bank Abu Rani recites a poem, an allegory of figs and leaves he composed on the spot when he couldn’t find the poem we came for. He’s the poet of the village, and we Americans sit on his family’s stone patio...

In the House of Blind Swordsmen

Copper foil, screens, and flashing all work as the best way to eradicate slugs. As yet, no progress, and yet, orations from the flowers of state, a paean to the healing powers of purple blossoms, the endless capacity for any of us to fall and rise...

Anna,

Here’s Schubert at 17, short and thick, nickname Schwämmerl, “little mushroom,” deep in his cups at the Hunter’s Horn, a dingy beer hall in Vienna, with the after-opera crowd, poetasters and brainy pundits shilling vitriol—bullshitters, all of them...

Taking The Service Road

Ice on asphalt, fog on wing mirrors, land flat, a yardstick, a bad tire, dry rot on the sidewall, the map of where I’ve been— Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, the mechanic tells me, hard times lurk, bad news ahead. On to Milwaukee, to Minneapolis— I mistake the...

Two Poems by Hussain Ahmed

Suppose it Rained in Harmattan Suppose everything beneath this sky wasn’t dying of loneliness – or hunger. Suppose we sought a new God that cannot stand the sight of blood. Suppose there’s a new God in town, and nothing edible goes on...

Listicle

the man with the hidden camera at the nude beach the man online who said i must not post the photo of the license plate of the car of the man with the hidden camera at the nude beach The Most Lemony of Lemon Muffins the women shocked by the man...

Two Poems by Andrew Shields

Accident The witness alleged that the tram was run down by an excited horse whose rider found he’d lost control too late to prevent the collision.   _____   Crossing When you cross the river, look up if you can. There’s always...

Gig Economy

I am a person you can pay to outsource the in-person trolling of your long-distance nemeses. On Monday, I got paid enough to buy a sandwich for side-eyeing someone at a coffee shop.  Yesterday, it was knocking someone’s ice cream onto the sidewalk...

A Trio of Erasures by Erin Murphy

HR Erasure: Policy on Clarity   Use                                          euphemisms. Be                    ambiguous. Choose                        your                 own     definitions for                   words, your...

Circuitous

A great & maybe pensive blue heron in this black-glass office park stalks chill captive water solar -electric fountained to prevent stagnation & green blooms of lawn -rich algal slime the ponds rimmed meanderingly by asphalt walks &...

What’s Brittle

That place where it breaks—the faint hairline crack that snakes its spider web lines out in all directions, jigsawing sharp pieces out of what was once just a single thing: a window I have looked through forgetting the glass. The oak seen for weeks...

Damaged Goods

I Like eggs with brief craters, starburst damage masked, often, with plastic packaging, faults caused by mishandling, manipulated nature graded; any given woman. Oh, to be rogue, to know, to feel deep in the marrow’s soil that cracks do not equal...

Corona Corona

1. Traffic cones pop-up like moving goalposts, out of nowhere, sidewalk, stoop, parking ramp and it wasn’t the utility van or work crews who fenced in projects mid-way. They’re furloughed. This is more a gaslighty, elf-on-the-shelf kind of mind...

The Axe

My neighbor leaves his axe out in the rain. We are not neighbors, I don’t know His name; for two years we have waved And said something mundane about the weather As we passed. He’s skinny and gray and looks Like a salted redneck; he drives his golf...

Eisenhower Box

I have two kinds of problems: urgent and important. Around the block picking up a few knacks, still, way earlier than Sissypuss, loser, to City on Hill. Shot shit, talked old tie threads, strategically inveighed. Wide-berthed chronic whiners who’d...

Two Poems by Omar Martínez-Sandoval

It’s Too Hot in Mississippi   Honk and honk of the four wheels, the cry of the goose, this machine doesn’t care about the cyclist. They own the roads, don’t you dare ride in front of them. Stubborn. Why should you leave the road? Whatever. It’s...

Three Poems by Jill McDonough

Above Boston   From the air you could see everything—my neighborhood, probably my house. The T, the flat expanse of Stop and Shop, the new condos in what was the Catholic Church. MIT’s round dome; long shadows on the beaches of Revere. The...

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

The girl is alive—someone caught her on video. The girl is alive, alive alive, the women who fed her one night cackled at that glimpse of her face in the freezing forest and I heard them toast her wild will. How we accepted such things when we were...

American Healthcare Erasure

persons with disabilities                                 in large part                                                               unable to cover the full cost of long- term                  troubles remain exhausted long-term Health care in...

It Isn’t Our Fault

Across the highway from the tank farm, where tanks hold Bakken Crude and Tar Sands oil that, when the Big One, I mean the Cascadia-Subduction Zone earthquake, slams the Pacific Northwest, will because they are situated on backfill, explode and send...

Song in Flood Time

We play records. The rains know not how to slow. Hear a catch in the chords. Kneel, and lift one breath to the next. Bounty of chocolate squares arrayed on the table between us. Cards we tally, past midnight as the reservoirs strain and fail...

THE NEW RIVER GORGE

Invincible system. Riveting mass and iron forged to chute prime smokeless West Virginia coal down the mountain to the rails on the river gorge, locomote it straight to market. Henry Ford bought it, bettered it. Sold it when regulations hamstrung...

Ode to Small Towns

Though none of you share my political convictions I will allow you a small amount of joy. My window is lit in solidarity with any other window that chooses to be awake this midnight. There is no other lit window that I can tell but then my vision...

Storm of a lifetime II

My husband is at MacDougall, it’s definitely not safer for him When my husband was in Pelican Bay and they had a tsunami warning he said they locked them in their cells They did that at USP Beaumont in TX last year during #hurricanharvey   My...

Curses

on October 13, 2017 Let the fat-assed harvest moon Shake herself off the horizon To crush you. Let the Pacific breach the coast, The plains, the Mississippi’s dagger, And drag you back to the Marianas Trench. Let every ghost, frantic, sullen or...

Two Poems By Patron Henekou in English and French

Dalva « Je l’ai aperçue, celle qu’on surnommait dans la cité « la créature » ou « Vivenda Ercilia, la diablesse », c’est selon, au moment où elle sortait de l’eau. Nue, de la tête aux pieds, insouciante de tout danger. » Les enfants du Brésil...

Excerpt from Crowded

Good-bye, Big Dipper; good-bye, Pleiades; goodbye, Orion, good-bye. Underneath this dome leeching its incandescence into the sky, the “what’s that? what’s that? what’s that, what’s that?” of the modern trade in attention disorder, our faces booked...

Popsicles

  I remember sitting with my mother in the common area and she kept pointing to her tongue. I didn’t know what she was doing. I was agitated. And I went and got a nurse. I couldn’t deal with it after I got her water and it did...

The Worm’s Turn

It wasn’t the first time worms had come into it. There was a vast tract of land richer than loam and home to a vast colony of worms who have lived in secret for centuries in compost, compiling a great work from the worm’s eye view, under- mining the...

TO SIRIUS B

  Your sister, the Dog Star, was the brightest. You, the Pup, nobody even saw, until one night in eighteen sixty-two, when a young man with a telescope of his own devise looked up, and there, where the wobble in your sister’s gait suggested you...

DOWN ALTERNATIVE

Fact death’s birth theater: a circling thicket of negligent capability’s white folding chairs on a plantation or at an inauguration. Effluvium whiteness Mount Vesuviusing to thy neighbor’s lawn— an abscess. And I’m swaddled in white, stained...

April 7, 2020

They’re dressing up cats on Facebook and someone has taught a dog to play volleyball— a natural, he always makes the return. Bocelli and Orlenski transcend and console, nepenthe for the quarantined. I hold onto a kitchen chair and learn to plié. The...

Yelp Reviews For a Lost Corner

  Como Pizza                                                                4035 Broadway ★★★★★ $ · Pizza A hot hot slice, a treat, the epitome of NYC, an orange bubble of oil shimmering on the surface of cratered cheese. A premature bite...

Some Heavens Are All Silence

Listen to my last breath      you’ll hear each breath I’ve drawn Since my voice changed and the sound got Deeper incline your head      pull down      a shroud from the heaven white Folks get peace      privacy from pull one down   To cover us...

Four Poems by Timothy Liu

FLACCID COVID ODE Threw a book party but no one came— _____ MAKE NO MISTAKE You didn’t wear a mask to the Hasid funeral during Mardi Gras! You didn’t plan ahead and bring enough PPE to the BBQ in the Lone-Star State where abortions are no longer...

Cut your hair tomorrow.

-Lake Orion, MI 2020 My mind tossed all night like ragweeds caught in a storm, thinking of these words Cut your hair tomorrow what my mother      said to me    after     watching a video       where       yet another   innocent black man was killed...

Aesopica (2019)

i: The Hunting Dog and the Watchdog Once there was a hunting dog and a watchdog who lived down the street across the river by a forest of meat Watchdog took up on the big wraparound porch every day with a rifle between his paws and when Hunting Dog...

Three Poems by Kevin McIlvoy

Checklist sharpied on the inside lid of a hatbox   This crèche will make nothing happen when you take the fourteen parts from the hatbox and unwrap the news of ‘42 covering 1) the manger made of tongue depressors given to Grandmother as a small...

Two Poems by Martha Silano

Why Are You Always So Angry? Because your soul turned out to be soil. Because your wonderful is a wind drill. Because you surprised me with sulfide. Because you hiss like melting steel. Because instead of a case of tuna, you brought home a case of...

Petition

Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice, And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself Buys out the law; but ’tis not so above. There is no shuffling; there the action lies In his true nature . . . . Hamlet 3.3.58-62 Perfect...

Landscaping

My brother digs holes in the ground all day long every day he would rather dig a hole or four hundred than go home to the family at dinnertime sit around the table gutting chicken picatta in silence. He would rather drive the landscape truck up and...

Two Poems By Cynthia Dewi Oka

You Don’t Have to Be Tough All by Yourself, You Said and if I returned the favor, it was much later. Or I lied. At the airport, waiting for my turn to sleep. Like a leg bone inside a grasshopper. In the selfie I sent, darkness curtains one side of...

Prelude: Howling from the Suburbs 2001-2008

  I I saw the best minds of my gender destroyed by material madness, gorging hysterical spandex, hauling their Hummers, dragging children up and down Wisteria Lanes, seeking 100% money-back guaranteed certainty, happiness, Who sliced and served...

Two Poems By Patty Seyburn

Just Tell Me You’ll Think About It   Kurt Vile on the radio trending sings “Pretty Pimpin’” and neither his assumed name or his song refer in any way to Kurt Weill and “The Threepenny Opera” – Vile’s back-up band called “The Violators.”  He used to...

We Value Your Memories

My wife has friended a coyote. Facebook keeps sending me messages from a slightly other world where a blind guy like myself jumps at the chance to buy expensive watches, cheap car insurance and a surveillance system for his cornfields. It’s a real...

Three Poems By Dawn Potter

Walking into Town this road is empty for most of the day but when the log trucks whip over the ridge jake-breaking belching diesel then watch out deer the soot-stained sky glowers snow is on the way snow is always on the way & the tar is always...

INFRASTRUCTURE

Whoosh like a river moving but it’s a highway of electricity making its way along strung lines. Teams and teams of men did this, forged and hung rubbery, waterproof cables. The chemicals it took: plastic coating and metal filaments to carry our...

Two Poems By Peter Schmidt

Starling Shout-Out About 60 common starlings were released in 1890 into New York’s Central Park by Eugene Schieffelin. He was president of the American Acclimatization Society, which tried to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of...

Hot Pot

For 李美其   My friend and I selected vegetables, mushrooms, meat, and long strands of sliced seaweed. I am illiterate, in China, so she read out loud and checked all the right boxes. Our server beamed as I snapped pictures of her soft hands stirring...

What I Will and Will Not Take From a Slaver Ancestor

I will have the name                            because it came by way of blood                                   and stripe. Cowhide-split skin                               and parchment script the tearful separation                         of kin...

Looking back, it now seems inevitable

that I would be the only one to return from summer camp with head lice. And that the medicated shampoo laced with rubbing alcohol would frost my tips. Nowhere to hide beneath the blonde, my skin scabbed red, dozen-or-so pimples blazing. A fact about...

Sweet Land

Everything’s coming up oranges. “Ollie Ollie in come free,” it’s all the statue can do to whisper. Meanwhile, cats prowl the edges of wildfires, eagles abandon their towers— dropping knee pads and hats on an underclad country. And the FLOTUS floats...

Rest Stop Ghazal

Miscalibrated coffee intake, I’m bound for the restroom, following the cis men. After row of urinals, row of sinks, one stall with a door that shuts. Occupied. The pits, men filtering in and out while I wait. The guy in the stall is silent, frozen...

Three Poems By Nick Carbo

AFFAIR You: white Deborah Kerr singing that song from the King and I—Thai kids crowd in rings, to know you. Me: Yul Brynner hands on hips, falling in love—etc, etc, etc, etc. Think flow, drum hearts, gongs. Drama: a bit too much for your husband to...

Cassandra

watches people stumble down the street talking loudly to people who aren’t there. Cassandra knows she’s or they’re under an enchantment. Hard to see its exact shape. The hot parts hotter, vineyards aflame. Cities underwater. Archipelagos of plastic...

Three Poems By Jill McDonough

The Serious Downer I tell Josey when she dies I am going to eat her face before I call the cops. They’ll be on their way to pick up her dead body and I won’t be able to stop, finally able to bite adorable chunks of her perfect cheeks, gnaw on the...

Two-minute video

WASHINGTON—White House Chief of Staff John Kelly hangs his head during heated Charlottesville press conference The most compelling thing I’d seen in a long time. Sound coming from the video, the president —some very fine people on all sides— I can’t...

The Kabul Olympics

She decided on swimming the channel to think through the chances of a character escaping the camps in Calais. When the weather turned, the organizer had to cancel, but training in the murky Dover water was not all beside the point: Swimming Pool...

Waiting for Fireflies

They should levitate from the meadow at dusk. Sporadic, one here, one there, an occasional landing on a sleeve, but tonight there is no light show. The mason jar lantern sits empty, the gifts of a June evening are not. We watch, hoping for a rising...

Corona and Confession

I drew a stick-fetus leaping in a womb—the letter O in the “pro” of “pro-life”—silk-screened it, keeping the dozens of T-shirts for show and for sale at our speaking engagements. Red, of course, crimson, and nobody questioned the color...

Elegy for the Republic

A sick scene of financial corruption, secret videotapes, spy rings, rigged voting machines, cocaine, political purges, easy as lies, trafficking, industrial waste, and always white supremacy —a coup— so it seems, and it is true, but didn’t democracy...

Interstitial

…facts aren’t the opposite of lies. Questions are.—Jennifer Kronovet Shouting, stammering, or dousing with vinegar, what can unhinge the vaults of belief? Pluto, full-fledged, is still round, still orbits our sun but doesn’t dominate its path...

Two Poems By Becca Barniskis

Agenda Machine Thing Mud faltered downahole halfway thru presenting (airloss lightdrain wordstick wormegg burrowing deep into screensavior) -10 sec break- skincrawl over&above turntalk beak- blurt swallow sling whatever you have to say far so...

Yearly Evaluation

“I do good work,” I said “That’s why we keep you,” he said. “I’d be hard to replace,” I said “Not impossible,” he said. “The amount of work I’m doing at this level, I feel my position warrants a higher salary,” I said. “We pay you a fair market...

Fractured Prism

/invite @you You joined #lgbt by invitation from Them Them: Welcome! You: What is this? Them: Aren’t you gay? You: No You left #lgbt *** You introduce me to your Family One-by-one This is my lovely sister. This is my punk-ass brother. My perfectly...

I Play House I Watch Things Burn

Oh, I’m no Roman emperor.  Kingdoms aren’t for me. My house is my corporation, with no room for mistakes, each outcome calculated, each cost projected, each bread loaf home-baked.             Artist and statesman both was I, a poet who also played...

Poems By Diane Seuss

[Yes, I saw them all, saw them, met some, Richard Hell] Yes, I saw them all, saw them, met some, Richard Hell, Lou Reed, Basquiat, Warhol, Burroughs, Kenneth Koch, and it all left me feeling invisible or fucked, fucked sideways, fucked by a john who...

We (also The People)

We are overwrought and underpaid, understood to be over-sensitive, we the underlings of the overtures of overrated undertakers, overcooked and ovaried; we are understudies of our overlords, gathering undergarments to make overexaggerated accusations...

Three Poems By Wes Matthews

Jimi Hendrix Plays the Star-Spangled Banner For a Crowd of Skeletons Du Bois said there would be days like this: when we must admit That we the People have decided to abandon heroics for the sake Of something more American. We must admit that there...

Two Poems by Sarah Audsley

  Letter to the Woman Who Carried Me on the Plane You must have transported hundreds of small squirming packages from one country to another, but of course, you only remember me. I was delightful. I didn’t holler the whole way on that long...

Two Poems by Jane Satterfield

Remembering #Winningteam A “mercantile feminist” learns that Ivanka Trump, her employer, is discontinuing her product line, ca. July 2018   Despite a million fuchsia cat caps knitted  by mothers sworn to resist, her father’s win was a...

AFTER OLYMPIA

—with respect to Victorine Meurent At the Evergreen State College, I was a poser who sat for a parody of Manet’s Olympia, my cat sitting by my feet as I reclined in the nude, holding a can of Olympia like a coat-of-arms above the family jewels. I...

Two Poems by Katharine Coles

ANOTHER DISASTER Call me ice- Hearted bitch. Mean- Time everything flies Apart, blaze And shrapnel, stars Black-holing and roofs Falling in. Always The electric cuts Out and the tap’s endless Dripping, and he’s Still looking for a Bandaid. We don’t...

Winner, Editors’ Choice Award in Poetry: Hold

In celebration of Scoundrel Time’s second anniversary, our editorial team is excited to announce the winners of our second annual Editors’ Choice Awards. Sally Ball’s “Hold” is the award-winner in poetry. Here is what Poetry Editor Daisy Fried says...

Two Poems By Faith Gómez Clark

First Camping Trip Mescalero, New Mexico Overhead: the night sky like a dark hand reaching towards me. Around me, all I see are pine trees, our campfire’s light gone. I try to turn around, to go back before my mother realizes I didn’t listen...

The world has split

The world has split
into a farce that plays
on two landings of the same
staircase.  Yes:  Treachery
gnaws the bones
of our state, so as
to tip us off, and out.
 
 
 
 
Image By: 

Refugee Song

Under Mylar blankets the refugee children dreaming of pupusas stare through the diamond shaped holes of the fencing that surrounds them. We want you to go home, we tell them, then put them in private prisons and county jails and processing centers...

Stranger Than Fiction

Outside my window The appearance of many cobs Without webs The naked Old lady dreams under her oppressive coverlet Her small head empty At this hour What if the rain fell sturdily The brain waving to a person In a car Did I say “coverlet” Donald...

Text and Flame

The news brings such terrible stories—   The girl who kept texting a friend to give up the weight of his worries, and bring his own life to an end. The woman who fought against fire found dead in a national park, shamed in an unending furor— A...