J.T. Whitehead

A Nature Poetry Primer : for my sons

-after reading Guillaume Apollinaire.

“You can never say animals are stupid. You can only say it about other people.”
– Daniel , age 5.

He would butt your head when you fight.
He’s just being antlered.

His hairy belly is full & he is tall & his back is hairy, too.
He’s just a bear.

We sidle up to you . . . we come sideways . . . easy prey.
How you catch crabs.

He bares his teeth whenever he eats.
He deserves the dogfood.

Our heads inside are full of life, & outside easily broken.
We are all of us eggs, yet.

Slender, nuzzling, feeding, quiet, listening, ever alert, & attentive,
the fawn.

A speck of dust in the universe, still our biting leaves the itch,
as pestering as the gnat.

We daily sing of war, it’s our bloodlust. We laugh when old men cry.
We are such hyenas.

A mass of chemicals dropped from the air can kill us,
as if we were not insects.
A footnote to hunters, like packs of wild dogs roaming the night,
we are jackals.
Unable to quit . . . eucalyptus leaves or anything else,
we enter the world of Koala.

We could benefit from your work-sweat, or know that you bleed,
like capitalists, or leeches.

We can move atomically freely among ourselves without separation,
like liquid.

Imagine my molarity or imagine me hairy without language, extinct,
one mammoth mastodon.

It is a dark blanket our special being lays over us all so late,
our Night.

We are as soiled & as showy as a major political party convention,
we might as well be orchids.

It seems our memories may exceed our minds.
Parrots can seem like ditto signs.

A President’s death needs no gun. Apparently one animal does,
when hunting Quail.

He’s just thinking about tail, tonight.
We’ll not use the other name. Say he’s a rooster.

I shine, but I could be dead to you, as far apart as we are.
Read this now – you are a star.

Even great poets do not know who created my fearful symmetry.
But the tyger knows what the tigeris.
Scientists & logicians agree: we only exist in children’s dreams.
But we are, and we are unicorns.
A photo could frame our circles, on a tumbling ghost town paper,
when we are vultures.

Thick skinned, mustachioed, fat fanged, formally tusked,
at the reception, tuxed, I am a walrus.

Having claimed as my own the home of the tribes of South Africa,
by manners, I should introduce myself – wildebeest.

We’d lap our own tongues’ blood from the blades of knives, for living,
being wolves.

A number, statistic, axis, chromosome, generation, or a big unknown,
hardly natural the illiterate sign us: X.

Shaggy stock in life, we stare back, patient as pre-history, still here . . .
Yak, Yak, Yak!
How many of us do you recognize here?
After all this is our zoo.

Ian Copestick

just like Buk

reading Bukowski
and I don’t want
to knock him
too much
upon reading a couple of
about him
it seems that
all of the times
he wrote about
working in
he actually only
did half a shift
in one.

hundreds of poems mention
sleeping on
park benches,
this happened
less than a handful of times,

I’ve slept rough
once or twice,
having walked out
on my missus and
having nowhere
else to go.
expect to see it
in my poems
for the next forty years or so.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Business Professionals

They didn’t even make love
face-to-face anymore.

Just sex
in the dark
when they are drunk.
Thinking of others
to get off.

But they stay together
for the finances.

It is very sad.
Each saving up to afford
the absence of
the other.

Ian Copestick

Was I Insane?

I spent years trying to get over here
I don’t know if I ever did
I don’t know if I ever will
She still has a starring role in my dreams
sometimes, just to torture me upon waking.
I cringe when I remember all the petty,
childish ways I tried to hurt her, but at the
time it didn’t feel like that. I felt like I was
fighting for my sanity, or my life.
I thought that if she didn’t take notice of me I’d fade away to nothingnes. If she loved
me or hated me, I had to know that I mattered
to her. Was I insane? Probably. Some women can do that to you. It doesn’t have anything to do with how strong
you think you are. Some women
just get under your skin,
just like scabies.

Gwil Thomas James

Modern Day
Toilet Reading

It was refreshing
to see Dostoyevsky
staring back at me
in that dirty,
but lemon scented

In bygone days
I would
have called you
a filthy fuck if
I’d found a book
in your bathroom –
that deep down,
I couldn’t
be friends
witah anyone
who didn’t toilet read.

Nowadays it just
felt incredible
to find another place
where books were
still being

Anthony Dirk Ray

New Orleans Pride


it was a long Labor Day weekend

although weekends never feel long

I took a few days off in

preparation for said weekend

that Wednesday I hurt my knee bad

so I hobbled with every step

fucking great, I thought

I’m going to have to do

a lot of walking this weekend


I took the dog to the vet

I watched as my dog took shots

like a champion

a cute blonde with a lip piercing

and tight scrubs hugged my dog tight

and let him lick her in the mouth

as the doctor shot him up with drugs

and inserted a long cylindrical tube

into his anus for a fecal test

this lucky bastard, I thought

tests were negative

the dog healthy

I emptied my wallet and

we went on our way


the wife and I left for Ocean Springs

ate great barbeque

drank good bourbon and soaked

in a large tub by the bed

the next day we went to an

art walk where I purchased

an original piece from a hipster

I won’t hold that against him

because his work is amazing

we then headed for Biloxi

we gambled a little

ate a lot

and saw the comedian

we were there to see

I had strong drinks from the bar

and weak drinks at the slots

I ran into a coworker who was

feeding machines with hundred after hundred

“push it” he told me

“maybe your lucky”

I wasn’t

I never am


we drove to New Orleans

as we were getting off on our exit

I turned to my wife and said

“I just remembered, it’s pride weekend”

we made our way toward the hotel bar

rumors have it that Bukowski stayed

there when he was in his twenties

we found a spot on the street to park

less than a block away

we entered the bar and ordered drinks

as we drank we watched

girls and guys walk by with wings attached

dressed in wigs, dresses or much less

I ordered another round and

we decided to take a walk

I fired up a cigar as we walked

I knew what they were probably thinking

me sucking on a long brown stick

many males and females in thongs

and jockstraps

chest harnesses abound

no problems among thousands of people

everyone was so festive and joyous

dancing, laughing, and singing

it’s then I realized how they

probably got their title

I was proud of New Orleans once again

Julia Gerhardt

The Wooden Bench

 I want to tug at the skin on my collar bone,

 as if it were a loose cloth shirt,

 and send air deep into the cavity of my chest,

 where the nuns rest,

 and the priest preaches,

 and I am somewhere


 on a wooden bench

 torn between

 an enthused spirituality and some well-needed sleep.