Scoundrel Time

Poetry

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.
 
 
 
 
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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...

Self-Portrait as Mass Extinction Event

I am the asteroid, the volcano, the poles shifting, the parasitic nonnative species. I am the Sumatran tiger, stalking prey in deforested villages. I am the dodo bird, awkwardly attempting flight. I am the carrier pigeon, fantastic plumage a sign of...

kayfabe

who will prosecute the wind’s unconstitutional surveillance of skin? hands up if they told you snowflakes speak for diversity. * I held my breath like a basketball passing through the projects to pan-am plaza. my sister concealed steel blades, a...

Prayer

There ought to be a prayer for the little exhaustion of light where bullets worm clear through the apples clinging to limbs. There ought to be a prayer for the flesh they pass through, the space left, bits blown into grass, that they resemble teeth...

Transept

Unlike me, she made a choice, chose Indian over Chinese, because she felt she looked more Indian than Chinese. It “takes strength” to choose. At age five, while playing near her feet, my grandmother knitted sweaters for me because she was always...

Genesis

Then Adam, to reluctant Eve  Said, come, my love, it’s time to leave This wilderness, why grudge and grieve?— We’ll name the creatures as they pass— White oryx, bonobo, wild ass, The dodo, lynx, rhinoceros. Eve hushed her pair of squabbling...

Alien Language

Day in, day out, I go over my vowels, my back-to-back consonants, my stress and intonation. I am at the mercy of an alien language. I hide under it pieces of a previous life: the memory of a first kiss in Tehran; Mom’s chador being my childhood...

words made flesh

I am reading about a 400-year-old document found in a gap in the buttocks of a statue of Jesus in the Cathedral of Burgos when restorers removed a piece of fabric used to cover Christ’s behind when K. says she is perplexed by her extreme repulsion...

Thirty years pass and

Again I dream I’m stuck in a room with my rape—my rapist is long gone and it’s just me and the rape now. I could say that the rape was a beast with red eyes breathing smoke and fire at me But, no, it’s just a tired looking thing (a big one) piled up...

My Mother’s Alzheimer’s Test

He said: Who is the president? And she said: George. Did she get partial credit for that? Maybe three points for the trio of Georges, or just one for the George who invaded Iraq. She couldn’t count backward from one hundred in sevens. Can you? If...

Kin

When you have to kill every motherfucker in the room accept no substitute is what he says as he shows off his 26 guns, which don’t include the one near the rack of ribs on the kitchen table, or the one making company with dust left in a gap between...

Let us draw near

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time,” Virgil, The Aeneid, National September 11 Memorial Museum Ten days after 9/11 my father’s heart exploded, his life collapsing in a matter of moments. We could not find each other in our own familiar...

Two Poems by Aaron Smith

The Trump Years The fireflies are lit and the field makes a Rothko with the sky. The stray cats eat food my mother left—the sound of their bites like someone unwrapping a package. The gray one sneaks up behind me, runs when I try to touch its head...

Sphinx

A sugar sphinx is lying on her stomach the balls of her knees pressed hard into the ground palms of feet kissing like this so everyone can see everything so you won’t try to look away so you can add her to the collection so you can memorize the pull...

“As yet but knock, breathe, shine”

–from Donne’s Holy Sonnets in this time of terror that has yet to make the flesh of the bourgeois bleed, though our souls tatter in this time of the cruelty in our names against which we send money and signatures through the electric...

Two Poems by Ed Ochester

Trump in the 19th Century the following lines are from Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now, 1875 This man was undoubtedly a very ignorant man. He had probably never read a book in his life, had no preference whatever for one form of government...

June 16, 2016

  I am listening to talk radio as I drive home to visit my mother Who has Alzheimer’s and is in a diabetic coma. A hot day in late June, orange barrels dividing The bumpy lane I am driving on from the smooth black one Where the workers are...

The Truly Screaming Baby

Thank God says the woman in 13E we’re not back there she means back there with the mom with the truly screaming baby and the two toddlers to boot (by God she’d never boot these two) these other two who didn’t once between them...

Elegy in Glass & Stone

Crows working the ground, picking at husks. Harvest one place starves the rest, crosswinds can’t be read, and nothing can parse the syntax of the soul. Listen: it’s the thin wail of a world gone wrong; what takes cover under the tongue is the song...

Two Poems by Jeanne Larsen

Singing, Studying on Whiteness, This Penelope Strings along suitors & the lyre-warp of her loom. On last night’s unspun body bag, weaves pictures: deployed youths, broken masts, horses’ heads hacked. An infant prince flung from a tower tall as a...

Flotsam

Flotsam (In memory of America) We find ourselves where the waves drag bodies onto the beach.  Our fingers rake the sand, our breath salts the air, shells and seaweed spill from our pockets like strange currencies.   Out there somewhere float...

Hold

Where, where are the tears of the world? —Roethke, “The Lost Son” I. I am reading this book about human consumption, how our sense— and headlong pursuit—of thriving depend, in institutional, ineradicable ways, on resource depletion. To the point not...

End to the Brief Unbeaten Streak

La vía del tren subteraneo es peligroso.   Several board (everyone faking shut-eye), pull out the students of history (ID’d by their lesson plans). Too late for remedial anything. Asked to pass. Told where to stand. Detention. Dawnbirds grackle...

Two Poems By Kate Lynn Hibbard

Present Fashions of Dress All dress must transact its weighty work, changing old modes and boldly innovating thought and intellect to render it progress. Our present fashions of feminine attire are in harmony with the swiftness and force of a...

Three Poems By Ashley M. Jones

Mary, Don’t You Weep, or, Mary Turner Resurrected When Mary Turner threatened to press charges for the wrongful lynching of her husband in Brooks County, GA on May 19, 1918, she was strung upside down, her clothes were burned off, and her unborn...

CHOOSING ALTERNATE FACTS, FEBRUARY

An iris dares to bloom. Six wasps chastise a window from inside, ignore an open door nearby. For hours. They walk the window. One by one, four mount The rod I level to the pane, Lift out the door. Two more resist. Afraid, enraged? They lift their...

Bog

And when they come at last to pull him from his throne of gold, what waits for them has neither name nor shape, is something huge, amorphous, all but still—until it moves, its sides begin to ooze like a spreading stain, but thick, gelatinous, a...

fall awake

fall awake we are walking to find the sunset children of the West need to watch the colors change to know we exist we braid the flags of our mothers into our locks we tie ourselves to our histories to keep from dissolving we sing the blues and print...

Runt

Soon there will be an eclipse ploughing a dark swath across the country from Portland to Charleston, everyone is waiting to see what kind of hole will be punched in their universe, everyone is buying smoky glasses from Walmart to hide squints and...

Two Poems by Peycho Kanev

__________ Creating in Reverse This world is created by language and everlasting light of nouns and gerunds coexisting within the shell of silence. Even the tiniest miracles can happen under a snowflake— If anyone asks if you lost your faith tell...

Waiting for Them To March on Us

As we link arms (mine far from steady) she tells me, before sunrise every morning her grandfather would gather twigs, and slowly he would begin to spin and as he spun, his arms would rise, head lifting, back arching, all spiraling up while he began...

Poems By Reginald Dwayne Betts

Secrets At two a.m., without enough spirits Spilling into my liver to know enough To call my tongue to silence, Miles learned Of the years I spent inside a box: a spell, A kind of incantation I was under; not whisky, But History: I robbed a man...

Two Poems By Tony Hoagland

DINNER GUEST The dinner guest goes upstairs to use the ladies room, and after she has washed her hands, just out of curiosity takes a peek in the medicine cabinet- where among the Nyquil and Ativan and dental floss she sees a bottle labeled Male...

Two Poems by Martha Zweig

Beauty Sleep  Kwitcher bitchin, dad snorted. Shut yer yap up. I hated the salt stinging my cheeks, it curdled my sass. Little blue gas flames itched in the kitchen. A pudding seethed, the better to set. Pulpy crushed gripes folded in. Bard: the...

Gwine Dig a Hole (A Blues Opera): Scene I

  GWINE DIG A HOLE is dedicated to the life, memory, family, and friends of Philando Castile. I have no eloquent, clever statement to make in the dedication. The libretto says what I think. -Ozzie Jones __________ Characters Old Man Old Woman...

Thoughts & Prayers

  This poem is composed of the public language around mourning over school shootings, all of it verbatim from political leaders or shopping and news sites.   Hashtag PrayFor   Thoughts and   No child, teacher; there’s just no other...

Alien

Hi friend. The Arcadia Machine and Tool .22 fired into your left temporal lobe and now lies buried in your parent’s yard next to the yellow poppies. Strange what we bury in language. The root of temporal is tempus meaning time, or temporalis meaning...

Protégé

(1) The street between the subway station and the church is narrow, cars beaded along both sides like rosaries God in His hurry to the rain’s press conference had forgotten on top of the sock drawer. Sidewalks like teeth crammed into too-small gums...

A Safe Trip to Your Final Destination

We have stowed our carrion items, as instructed, in the overhead compartments. The roadkill squirrels stacked nicely, not so the feral goat, souvenir of a mountain holiday. In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, we will activate our own...

Portfolio: Poems by Fady Joudah

Declaration of Independence I am the one I think you are. Could it be that when the body ended, history started and when the body persevered it was rediscovered? I am the one you think I am. In a show of hands the captain asks for a Cave of Hands...

Six Questions for Fady Joudah

Interview by Christine Mallon Scoundrel Time: Can you talk about how or why poetry has stayed with you throughout your time as a physician? Is the practice of each tied to the other?  Could you also talk about being an Arab-American poet in America...

How It Ends: The Donald’s Going

The Donald’s Going (With apologies to W.B. Yeats) Rooting and rooting in the White House drain The plumber cannot hear the moving men; Things go in boxes; the hairspray takes up four; Marine One has lifted from the lawn, The orange-tinged...

Trumpoems

  Note: When he sent us these “Trumpoems,” Joshua Weiner noted that “They are made from the President’s own words, mostly. They are terrible, but are they terrible enough for these times?” Can’t Touch This If Ivanka weren’t my...

Poems by Paul Otremba

The Representatives   When they showed up at my ready door, it was their taste for flesh that misled me, and it was a picture produced later that confirmed what provisional and corrupt intelligence we’ll go on, and successfully. They were not...

The Beauty of the Ship

When, staunchly entering port,
After long ventures, hauling up, worn and old,
Battered by sea and wind, torn by many a fight,
With the original sails all gone, replaced, or mended,
I only saw, at last, the beauty of the Ship.
__________
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My Appointments

My appointments: Maple Syrup. Pertussin. Recusals. Refuseniks. Dutch aunts. Dachshunds. Irish setters. Nodules. Old oatmeal. Truffles. Bone density. Sebaceous cyst. Pain in the crown. The Neck. Rattle of the Time Machine. No Back Ups for Ninety Days...

A Daybook for Late Summer, 2017

Antifascists say the time for waiting is over, or rather that fascism will only grow stronger if we wait for it to grow stronger. I’m scared. ¨ Tonight’s sky was a foreboding beauty, the kind that makes the heart fold in like the...

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...

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...