Three Poems: Once We Were Kids, Moving Fear of Staying, Growl

Sage Ravenwood Writer’s Note: On writing these poems, ‘Once We Were Kids’ is based on an actual childhood memory. I wanted to capture the innocence of that time period yet show how the outside world creeps in no matter how safe and loved a child is, /the boy who commented on me liking chocolate ice […]

The Capris of Middle Age

Vicky Macdonald Harris No longer the resort capris of Laura Petrie dancing past her husband forever flat on the floor; she espousing her deception in the 1960’s trope of sly hoodwinking for gain, with luscious undercutting smiles of perfectly drawn lips, but now the capris of refuge and repair. Capitalizing on placement, the middle aged […]

Covenant

Hattie Jean Hayes I finally dream of the cathedral. The air is stiff for a storm. I find you at the end of a cigarette streaming elegia into the dark. We are in the cellar. I can read music: inverted braille, pocked-wall vertebrae. You stroke a dog, belly-up in the dirt. The grit of penitence […]

The Ocean’s Only Word (cont’d)

Lee Potts I worked for your mother one summer digging. Setting roots tangled up in soil from some other place into holes about as deep and wide as a kettle. I relished disturbing stones and my sweat soaked into the heart roots of a dozen peach tree saplings. That island didn’t need an orchard and […]

Driving at Night in the Rain with the AC Broken

Tyler James Russell You tell yourself you aren’t doing anything, not really, nothing strictly wrong. This is just how things are, and the headlights in the other lane are blurry as stars but brighter and the rain is throbbing on the roof and a girl with thin legs in the passenger seat is looking out […]

Traffick for Miles

Tyler James Russell If you laid them out fingertip to fingertip like rows of paper dolls the girls would cover the lower half of Manhattan so you try it, you lay them out in a place where there are no city blocks, only fields forgetting if you are supposed to count the hair beehives, ponytails, […]

cathechism with stone & ghost

Evelynn Black the artist: the first person to set out a boundary stone, or make a mark –Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus six stones standing who knows how long in the November air: notes to a path: where not to go: the gash of the land: ash of remembrance: ash in the fog: not […]

Lunch at café close to the water

Ailing Zhou She walks into a café by the lower end of the Hudson to check off a box the front is rustic but the girl who takes her order is almost Futuristic her speech the exact same inflection as she jumps from Thai name to Nigerian name to German name her beam on pause […]

When I wished my name was Anna

Emma Lee As the others settle into the end-of-term going-through-the-motions of set exercises, I’m marked as different. The maths teacher tells me at length about the character Emma Peel, although I’m too young to have seen the TV series. My relief at recognising words in the foreign-to-me language he speaks seems to encourage his view […]

Dinner Hour, Miami

Maeve Reilly We all have to eat Mr Buzzard we all have to twist sideways, eyes down, hovering to get the best drop on our prey, tonight you soar as high as the 17th floor of this condo- minium while down below at tables and bars humans home in with knives & tines and white […]

the herb garret

Kate Hargreaves in pelting sop-footed rain on the South Bank belly warm with jackfruit & espresso I held the rope railing & climbed stairs that were ladders to bundles of crisp nettle & ground poppyheads hanging over glass cases of forceps & rusty urethral sounds dusty stuffed caimans & floors creaking despite sawdust under boards […]

Rock Song

Mary Ford Neal It’s a small stretch of sea, but it boils with anger. Still, it will be the colour of my family’s eyes, so however much it rants, it can put no fear in me. And the journey will take no time at all, and I will be the only passenger, and unafraid of […]

Yours,

Kate Crowcroft the letters are there, they are ink holding patterns multi-cursive hand at the door late in suit and tie round and cored, the dun clot with the sweet before before before

Alien

Kate Crowcroft A few months before the crashyou slid chicken skin down the vegetable shoot. How you get here, girl? She ran two boyfriends: Hunter & Chase, so you knowI’ve got a Remington RP in the nightstand & you asked to borrow the hairdryer. Till then, the closestyou’d come to technologies of death were your […]

On Amoxicillin

Adrian Dallas Frandle Writer’s Note: The title of the piece “On Amoxicillin” invokes the dual sense of “on” as both a polemic (“On Beauty…”; “On Grief and Grieving…” etc) and the state of treatment, of “being on” a course of amoxicillin. The poem falls toward the end of my collection in progress, Acoustic Ecologies and […]

Embezzeled Emotion

Catherine O’Brien If I say ‘I love you’ and you don’t say ‘I don’t love you’, I cry fraudulence, have we even had an argument? Have you failed to fire my heart out of a circus cannon? In this surrealness, I walk a slanted tightrope back to you Falling backwards only to the sigh of […]

My Mother Was Once a Story

Sally Badawi Hijab wears my mother. Her jaw pinned smooth with pearls: convex mirrors refract evil blue eye. This is to orient a west in love with detonating stone, in love with hollowing caves to fill hungry gaze. My mother once lived hair on display until she picked the rubble from her scalp, shucking shrapnel […]

Wolf Song

Lisa DeCastro I am an onyx pearl Inside your shell Rolling on your tongue Swallowed Implanted A stone in the underbelly In a jeweled state of unrest Waiting to be released Uninhibited On the waves Of your most guttural Howl Lisa De Castro has published three books: Margot (novella), The Beauty of Decay (poetry), and […]

This is what happens when you go places:

Sidney Dritz In my head I’m still standing on that curb, night time in May, and my lips on your lips, airplanes racing overhead, taller than you for once, your feet in that gutter, my feet on that curb, my hair in your eyes, your lips on my lips, and it is hard, but it […]

yellow jacket wasp macro photography

Autumn Wasp

Harriet MacMillan You have made of me an autumn wasp.The last yellow gasp of summer was utteredand the air crisped around me, solidifying intoacorns. A quirky carpet for the forest floor,pebble-dashing the places where leaves willsoon leave epitaphs upon the dying grass. See the stripes you have painted upon me,the fluttered slits on my thorax where […]

Growing Season

Katie Hunter Last summer my tomatoes Swept the garden. Downy tendrils swaddled jalapeños and My soiled hands Arrested dreams of eggplant Crept past my whispered pleas. Slow. Down. I pruned visions and Sacrificed limbs. Their heads bowed canary blossoms in A rain prayer Unanswered. Still they grew. I lopped green Sucklings into my palms. They […]

Mortuary Science

Terri Linn Davis (read Terri’s interview about this poem with our Poetry Editor, Ian O’Brien, here) Terri Linn Davis has an MFA in poetry from Southern Connecticut State University, and her work has most recently been published in Emerge Literary Journal, Neologism Poetry Journal, Belletrist, and Ghost City Review. She lives in Connecticut with her […]

Robbie was here

Adele Rickerby Robbie was here ‘84 Flick of a thin folded foreskin, a ring of rubber peeled, turning, curving, splaying and spraying a stream of steaming urine to splash like flax against the foothills of grimy snow, stacked and compacted along the long sides of the never ending highway to nowhere, as ‘Jesus, kid! Hurry […]

Interview With Poet, Terri Linn Davis

Ian O’Brien 1) ‘Mortuary Science’ is part of a wider project you are working on. Tell us a little about that. “Mortuary Science” is a poem that’s a part of my full-length poetry manuscript where the speaker attempts to explore or “name” the concept of loss with all its nuance: loss caught in the act, […]

Two Audio Poetry Performances: Toxic and You Are Music

Melinda Smith Editorial note from Janice Leagra: I don’t remember how I first connected to Melinda on Twitter, but I remember seeing one of her tweets where she shared a video of herself singing and playing her guitar and I became an instant fan. Then when she started sharing herself reading her poetry, set to […]

I Want to Write About the Moon

Shiksha Dheda Editor’s Note from Sudha Balagopal: The moon and longing create the perfect mood in this poem by Shiksha Dheda. Images, words and the layout itself create the landscape for experiencing the cold distance she writes about. I love that Shiksha’s poem is both a sensory and an emotional treat, with yearning captured and […]

Journeys

Leanne Ncube Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: This evocative poem is from emerging writer, Leanne Ncube. I first heard this performed at an open-mic event and it blew me away. She drops us into a precarious journey and we rattle along with a car as it makes its way through a decaying city. It’s a […]

Two Poems: The Kindest Way and Heat

Jonny Rodgers Editor’s note from Ian O’Brien: I am so proud to be able to share these poems with Janus readers. The thing that I love about Jonny’s work is that it strikes that balance of crafting and accessibility, blending the cryptic and the conversational, and I think that makes for the best poetry. In […]

Sommelier 2020

Stephen Smythe Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: I recently heard this poem recited at a live event and was immediately struck, as I always am with Stephen Smythe’s work, by the voice. There is that wonderful balance of wordplay, crafting and a deceptive simplicity that I love in poetry. The result is a powerful sense […]

Three Poems: Three Months Old Today, Coloring with My Daughter…, and Foundation

Brian Wallace Baker Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: I first discovered Brian’s poetry through a prose poem he had published in the Lindenwood Review earlier this year. I was instantly struck by his voice and his imagery: he not only takes us to interesting places, but he often comes to them from a side-angle. He […]

Violently Bashful

Melanie Tomkins Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: I heard this poem performed at the Coalition open-mic event, which Mel is co-founder of. I love her poetry – the imagery, the word play, the strong character voices she creates. This poem showcases Mel’s talent with imagery and her love of nature. I love the ambivalence, the […]

A Girl Broken Down

Heather Shaw Sixteen fingers and four malicious thumbs hold me to the bed, Then they get to work. Stretch out my arms till S N A P   The cartilage churns up into a thousand pieces A splitting of my atoms, bone into confetti The party pieces float, trapped in the vacuum of human space. […]

Pale Urn for Hydras

Haolun Xu i.   Am I so bad? All I ever wanted was to simply transcend all things.   But life as a whole will abandon me for this. It has been decided upon arrival that we should live and die as trees. But we eat trees too, don’t we.   My special talent. What […]

You Never Do

Daniele Nunziata Even God had a day off. Even machines need a day off. Even the moon, once a month, takes an evening off. But you never do. // Do you remember that week when we first saw Rome? I would trade in the sum of the Sistine Chapel and the Parthenon just for you […]

In Carini

J. Kenny each afternoon on that ancient dusty hill in a square of smooth slippery stone a crowd gathers in front of a church for a funeral or wedding. the only difference is how the crowd greet the man in the suit at the top of the marble steps worn by the footsteps of mourners […]

While It Snowed

J. Kenny on a Sunday we walked through a cemetery while it snowedand the flowers left at Christmas were now frozen on the tombstones.the snow crunched under our feet and everything else was silentand I watched a single flake fall and melt on your lip. we stopped in a brick archway by a fir tree […]

Thistle

Ives Phillips I let the bud poke my palette,Bitter up my tongue,Because I’d rather that thanGrin a grin you don’t deserve. I reserve my honey and blushOnly for those that were thereTo tie a balloon to my wristAnd feed the light in my eyes. I blew a dandelion back thenWishing us all well, only toWatch […]

Papier Mâché

Elizabeth M. Castillo                                            I hate papier mâché the stodge, the sticky remains of the glue the way it gets everywhere, and is always far more effort than whatever activity I promised we’d do. I see through its thickness once the mask is shaped and set, and decorated in all bright, appropriate colours, though the […]

Missing Person Sign at a Rest Stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Kate Deimling A blue line of highway snakes across the map.Alongside, a girl named Jean is enshrinedin image on the screen. It’s unmistakably a school picture:heavy blond bangs, face framed by ponytails,wide smile asking to be liked. Here’s her birth date,and I calculate she’d be 59.Contact state police if you have information. Is there any […]

Polyamory

Elle Shim He loved me the way an orange peeled in the next room permeates the universe for a night. In the morning   I drove back from Chicago still stinging, trying to scan ditches for deer in the dark, the glint off every mile marker mimicking the eyeshine of a shaking creature ready to […]

Three Poems: Between Two Mouths, Harm, and The Kiss of Judas

Lisa DeCastro Editor’s note: I’m drawn to Lisa’s poetry because it’s both intricate and accessible. Her poems are filled with desire, ache, love, loss and written with control and skill. They are richly written and felt. — Janice Leagra Between Two Mouths Between two mouthsAn exchange of eternityWords utteredSilently at firstWithout baring teeth Lips apart, […]

Three Poems: Lessons in Alchemy, Name Your Poison, Behold, The Universal Uterus

Seanín Hughes Editor’s Note: These poems are taken from Seanín’s debut full collection-in-progress, Reasons for Admission, wherein each poem corresponds to a reason for admission to lunatic asylums during the nineteenth century. In this selection, ‘Lessons in Alchemy’ toys with ‘hard study’, ‘Name Your Poison’ answers to ‘opium habit’, and ‘Behold, the Universal Uterus’ responds […]

fuel dispenser

Pam’s Pantry

Shawn Van Horn I read that they’re finally tearing it down.   It has always been there, way before I moved here, way before Ike’s interstate changed everything. It was a place of brief respite for others but for me, the battered and withering staggered shake siding, with its cherry paint peeling like a sunburn,  […]

close up of hand holding pencil over white background

Biblion

Shawn Van Horn I’ve broken up with the world. Words are my new mistress. You’re my way out of here. Doors open inside you, snapping shut when I look away. Black ink fit along the page, lines like mountains hanging off the face of a bound world. I create my own worlds there, building my […]

selective color photography of orange tulip

Vanitas

Jared Beloff Stare hard enough and still edges will followthe lines of your eyes as you move away,a burst of color revealing absence in silhouette:my grandfather’s watch, tulip stalks candle thinalready loosening their skirts, glass luminousas a lit wick, shadows rimming a skull’s sockets. Tonight, my daughter sleeps still enough––I hesitate to check her breath, […]

Matisse’s Bouquet de Fleurs pour le Quatorze Juillet, 1919

Jared Beloff That summer pink flowers gave the least promise,their heads bowed down out of the vase’s slender rimrevealing green stalks shivering to expandbefore we registered the shock of purple pushing upward,crowded by sweet williams’ and asters’ stilled propellers;before we halted at the blue salvia still standing at attention,their cobalt swelling up from the porcelain […]

white and black moon with black skies and body of water photography during night time

The Man in the Moon

Joel LeBlanc The man in the moon sat down on my bed and started smoking a twisted cigarette between yellowing teeth and fingertips, while murmuring wild stories to the dark. Of men who prayed to find themselves, and turned into stags, into dogs, into owls. Of wandering salesmen who gave their hearts to the moon […]

The Business of Witches

Joel LeBlanc The business of witches is one of harvesting truths like plants of predicting babies and midwifing divorces, taking midnight phone calls from love haunted sisters and keeping omens of death to ourselves. We are not of our parents; the land made us, and cats and rats and rabbits dance in our footsteps. Young […]

Horseshoe Crabs

Joel LeBlanc I opened my mouth to say something sweet, but you may notice the briny sea that lives beneath my throat,   and all the sea monsters swimming off-map inside my belly. I wanted to say that I love you, but what comes out is horseshoe crabs in their full moon mating, thumping and […]