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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

bright whole ripe oranges on wooden table

every time we think of her

Christina Kapp she held an orange / probed her thumb / with enough force / to wrench skin / from flesh / nail threading / through pith / like a body / shedding skin / like the quilts / a handmade shroud / of skin / peel muscle / from membrane / a puncture / […]

landscape nature flowers summer

Hay Fever

Rebecca Bailey Rude as dandelion seeds, yet you still grow,  The dock leaf to my thistle counterpart. For years I reaped, could not un-sow, The perennial of my fallow heart. The bloom of time won’t stop me  Crying your name (in Latin) to the others. But if bulbs don’t thrive, then let them be. Remember, […]

woman wears gold colored blue gemstone pendant necklace

The Conifer and the North Wind

Geraldine Clarkson He gave me a gift of needles bound round in banana leaves, fragrant, folded in coconut wood.  He came to me first in wafts of October storm, a hard-nosed North wind who sliced sideways  at new growth, shook cone-buds, rocked me till, maddened,  I smelt my own fragrance flying high around. I was […]

brown cattle on green lawn grass during daytime

Sturdiness

James Garza Q:   is there something erotic about destroying the environment?     A:          yes     we roll up our sleeves past the shoulder            & impishly                              plunge arms into                                                     the cow     our fingers meet by chance                           (in the reticulum)           & we look […]

Parent and Child

by Rebecca Ruvinsky A sense of living alreadyin the past. He is lookingat a dying woman whileshe is breathing. Eating.She can only eat soft food,but she tries some of his.Chews. Spits out what shecan’t swallow, but she livesoff of the flavor. Jokes, I don’t needthe calories anyway. Five years after the funeral, herson wonders if […]

Sun in Our Eyes

Rebecca Ruvinsky The audacitywas circumstantial: we didn’t know we wereflying until it was toolate to stop. Then, we’re hopeless, trippingover each other, fawn-like with our fresh wings. Gangly never suited youso well. We got used tothe shedding, to waking up with feathers in our hair.Your head was always upin the clouds in those days, and […]

Sitting on a Stool by a Bar

Jesse Millner Once I saw a man punch a homeless guy in the face.It was afternoon. It was the mid-1980s. It was a baron the near West Side of Chicago. It was Charlie’son Randolph. It was winter and when the homelessman walked in, the cold followed him the way it does,bringing that brief shiver before […]

Cosmic Lovecraftian Love

Wyatt Winnie Saturn ringsaround cul-de-sacs,adhesive radio wavesjamming, jamming transmissions fromNeptune to Mercury searchingfor staticky reception andconfirmation of alien life. She’s wrapped hertentacles around hisenchiladas, somethinghis friends can’t believe, not on Monday or Tuesday,despite the Wednesdayproclamation of his love. They’re just feelings,he says.They’ll go away. But on Thursdayhe’s swimming onhis motorbike ina giant spacesuit and eating […]

Corona Legal

Wyatt Winnie They’re out of horchata againand I don’t know how to tellthe othersI’m not Corona legal,at least not in this state anyway, seeing ashow I’m the only 17-year-old chillingat the adult school. But Laura knows,all 23 years of candy appleMexican lipstick and single-motherhoodpushing her stroller down Alhambraavenue with the vatos cat-calling herdespite her Gerber […]

Addressing her inner voices

Shannon Kenny I have a thick skinbut the patriots and bigotsare wearing it thin.The blood of the world is all over my phoneand laptopand my kid’s waking up.Be nice, assholesI’ve got a day to get through. Shannon Kenny is a writer and actor from Durban, South Africa. She and her family love to laugh. And […]

U.I.

Frank McHugh Universal indicator of right, wrong,good, bad, life or death. Of course,no-one nowadays can make a decisionso the digit wavers, not committing. Hitch-hiker’s appeal, texter, gamer,licked and sticked to seal the deal:pudding-prodder, opposable, appositegripper of handlebars and pushchairs,the more rounded of the brothers,Peter’s apostle, pollex, a page-turner. The mighty thumb has replaced conversation betweenmy […]

The Vampire Visits The Bog

Meg Mulcahy We sit ditch-side in curdled breeze and watch as curlews tango in briar and thorn. Bodies like mine are made of bogland, stacked and drying. Wind song of the rushes tussle breathes for me, stifled lest the world end. The vampire’s disembodied hands tell me nothing except that the curlew dwindles because of […]

There; Fixed.

Amanda Wilkins Our dirt smelled different, I say.Rust and library paste,Ground up talons and the blood of mice.Sure, it had the same grind, same weight, same color as mostBut,Ah –That distinct smell.“Chuh,” goes my shovel,And that sound takes me backTo the time you tore your yellow Sunday dress on the bridge,Over the creek, behind our […]

Last Night I Dreamed

Jesse Millner of Chicago back in the 1980s when I drank shots and beers with Polacks and Puerto Ricans in West Side bars, sometimes until dawn licked the city skyline, bringing meaning to the Sears Tower, 1454 feet tall, 110 stories of glass and steel rising above downtown as I lowered myself into the driver’s […]

Four Houses Ago, Early Morning

Sidney Dritz Ugly little dinosaurs, thoseprehistoric wonders onthe back porch, thosethree-toed feet pebbled andstrange in the sun, bobbingalong with those stunted,immobile wings, useless untilI open the back doorand the cat bursts outand feathers flutter in eddiesas they scatter and for a few feet, loud andungainly,those chickens fly. Sidney Dritz is (currently, constantly) reevaluating what to […]

Gavel

Eoin Devereux From the rough slanted fieldA streel of a scarecrowBears witness,To a brimful cup left on the doorstep,An extra place at the kitchen table,An empty chair by the fire,A crossed, still-warm, loaf on the slender windowsill,An offering to lost soulsWho sometimes passIn the night,Straying,Between here and there. Darkness drops early,In these quarter days,But, the […]

The Vagaries of Her Plot

Melissa Ostrom Will the child know what to watch forWhen she leaves her tame homeOf rosebud cup, glass ballerinaAnd broaches the forestWith her mission? Or did her father notWarn her, for fear of inciting her fear? Will your wolf exercise his duplicityWith flattery, an eleganceThat invites the girl’s vanityTo defeat her, or will he actOn […]

Night Cricket

Susmita Bhattacharya The lines are drawn with chalkon the tennis court. A temporary pitchis created. Lights hang from bamboo poles.Boys from across the neighbourhoodappear in hordes. Teams are drawn up.The summer of night cricket begins. The lads from Hindu colonyswagger in – defending champions. War linesdrawn with face paint,their bodies like coiled spring,swinging their bats […]

Faster than Fairies

by Frank McHugh The little burnt hands of the saintheld on tight to the railway power lineshis charred and tatty remains flying out behind himlooking fresh from some Sicilian catacomb,he was laughing and so was I.When I looked across the aisle he was sittingbeside a girl wearing a coat and a crucifixdrawing crosses and butterflieson […]

If Only

by Gina Harlow In another life I would have lived in Manhattanpoor but pores oozing with interpretation and trepidation,In exhilaration of the opera singer next doorIn another life I would have been born in Franceand made cheese on a farm,I would have drank good wine at a young age,and foraged for mushrooms and cooked stewsIn […]

The House on Chicken Legs

Stephanie Parent Her cottage prowls the forestOn legs of rubbery fleshClacking bonesPrehistoric claws It leaves footprints large enoughTo swallow a girlHood and boots and all Don’t bother to follow the tracks— The house finds you And when Baba Yaga beckons you insideThe birch tree by the door will tear at your fleshThe dog will nibble […]