July 6-12, 2020: Poetry from Angélique Jamail, Ellaraine Lockie, and Suzanne O’Connell

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Angélique Jamail

Angélique Jamail’s poetry, short fiction, and essays have appeared in over two dozen anthologies and journals, including New Reader Magazine, Waxwing, Time-Slice, Improbable Worlds, Pluck Magazine, The Milk of Female Kindness––An Anthology of Honest Motherhood, Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston, Femmeliterate, Bayou City Magazine, and The Enchantment of the Ordinary. Her short story “Mother” was published in 2019 by Spider Road Press and nominated for Best Small Fictions. Her work was selected as a Finalist for the New Letters Prize in Poetry (2011). Her magic realism novelette Finis. (Odeon Press), first published in 2014, has been praised by fiction writer Ari Marmell as having “some of the most real people I’ve encountered via text in a long time,” and by poet Marie Marshall as “a witty tale of conformity, prejudice, and transformation, in a world that is disturbing as much for its familiarity as for its strangeness.” Her poetry collection The Sharp Edges of Water (Odeon Press) came out in 2018. She teaches Creative Writing and English in Houston and began serving on the Board of Directors for Mutabilis Press in December 2019. Find her online at her blog Sappho’s Torque (www.SapphosTorque.com) and on social media.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Angélique Jamail and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Upon Taking My Kids to the
Last Roller Rink Left in Houston

I was a roller skating queen
when I was twelve. I knew all
the rinks of this town like a master
harper knows the pluck
and tang of every singing string.

Now, at a mortal forty-four, one
busted tailbone in my past, my wheels
feel every scratch and patch
of this decades-old floor, every
whoosh of every godlike adolescent
zooming by.
……………………My hair blown back
by the breeze of my own perched
recklessness, I wish I had the brass ball
bearings for roller derby.


Weeknights at the Ballpark
the Spring I Turned Thirteen

The air breathed like melted butter
painted across dough, like syrup in a slow
ribbon around the rim of a plate. I followed
every game my brother played from the next
field over, where my classmate, unattainable
despite my bones-deep crush, rounded the bases
with blue eyes and the kind of hair that couldn’t
decide if it was blond or brown and settled
somewhere on silver in the blinding lights over
the baseball field at night.

Ellaraine Lockie

Ellaraine Lockie is widely published and awarded as a poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Her fourteenth chapbook, Sex & Other Slapsticks, was recently released from Presa Press. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England, and Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Ellaraine also teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, LILIPOH.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Ellaraine Lockie and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Nominative Determinism

–A found poem*

1. trump as verb: beat, break, checkmate, concoct, cook up, conceive, create, crush, contrive, defeat, devise, distort, dominate, drub, excel, edge, fabricate, frame, fake, get the better of, get the upper hand, hatch, invent, make up, nose out, outfox, outdo, outmaneuver, overtake, outperform, outstrip, outwit, overcome, overpower, prevail, profit, scheme, surpass, top, trounce, vanquish, wallop, win

2. trumpery as noun: babble, balderdash, bits and pieces, blah, blather, bullshit, bunk, bunkum, castaways, castoffs, chaff, claptrap, cultch, debris, detritus, discards, dominance, dreck, drivel, drool, falderal, foam, foolishness, froth, fudge, funk, garbage, gobbledegook, gibberish, hogwash, horsefeathers, humbug, idiocy, Jabberwocky, jargon, jive, litter, leverage, malarkey, nonsense, odds and ends, poppycock, raff, refuse, rejects, remnants, riffraff, rubbish, rubble, swill, tatters, trash, trickery, tommyrot, twaddle, waste material, wealth, wreckage

3. trumpery as adjective: base, beggarly, brummagem, cheap, commonplace, flashy, foolish, gaudy, garish, inferior, insignificant, immaterial, little, mean, mediocre, meretricious, nasty, obscene, ostentatious, puny, pretentious, poor, rubbishy, schlock, scrubby, second-rate, shabby, shoddy, showy, slight, small, tawdry, trashy, trifling, trivial, two-bit, twopenny, unimportant, valueless, vulgar, worrisome, worthless, worst, wretched

4. trump up: color, conceal, disguise, falsity, garble, gloss over, hide, mislead, misstate, misrepresent, pervert, twist, warp

5. trump card: ace in the hole, card up one’s sleeve, leg up, secret advantage, secret weapon, upper hand, whip hand

*Collected from selected thesauri

Nominative determinism: the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their name

This poem was first picked for publication by Lummox Anthology #9 due out in the Fall of 2020.


Other Americas in a Haibun

……….The two hours early that would have been stolen by airport security sway noose-like in the draft over the train depot. Part of the $39 fare. I take on the job with x-ray vision aimed at passengers who wait on wooden benches.  
……….A man with potato skin sprouting whiskers pulls up his stained pant leg. Scratches a scab. No baggage big enough to hold a bomb. The woman sitting beside me with missing teeth spreads like warm honey over the bench. Says I ain’t givin’ up nothin. Unzips her over-stuffed bag as though she senses suspicion.  Points at each item to prove its necessity to her Eddie-Murphy-talking teenagers. 
……….A kid with enough bottled water to blow up San Jose avoids eye contact through squint eyes. When he gives his seat to an old man in a walker, I ease out of national red alert and into local colors.  Grab a cup of coffee percolated the old way. Drift along in the current of community.
……….A whistle crooks its sound waves toward the tracks to seats that could hold 300 pounds of honey. To a glass-domed observation car where I step into the middle of America. A silent film surrounding a low buzz of reverence from the audience. Seats that face both sides of the panorama.
Patchwork of grassland
vineyards, barns, horses, dirt roads
An eagle circles
……….Hands champ at the glass bit that bars them from running fingers through fertile soil. America the Beautiful plays in the private rhythm of heartbeats. When a loudspeaker spills Meals served in the dining car over the air, no one wants to leave the nourishment of this car.  
……….The umbilical pulse of metal pounding metal. Embryos in a rocking chair of stop and go, switch of tracks. Of passengers unaware of a south slant until the birth of sunset over the Pacific. 
A round of orange pours
into blue through the glass frame
Froth splashes the sand
……….Whistle, clang and squeal interrupt the reverie to announce Santa Barbara. I walk off and into a postcard picture. 
Palms, flowers, sunshine
and harbor where mountains meet sea
Shadows of mission
……….Boutiques flaunt and exotic eateries flavor State Street. In Starbucks a woman wearing a multi-carat diamond orders a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte with sugar free syrup no whip. Says to her Clark Gable-like companion, We’ll take a bottle of ’63 Rothschild to dinner. A pre-schooler at the next table plays on her iPod while the mother reads Architectural Digest. Out front, a bronzed and buff teenager with a surfboard bleeps an alarm on a new Porsche with a U of Santa Barbara sticker.  People who could pay the $365 airfare to San Jose. 
Armor of x-ray
seat belts, clouds, distance, silence
A chill in the air

Suzanne O’Connell

Suzanne O’Connell’s recently published work can be found in North American Review, Poet Lore, Paterson Literary Review, The Summerset Review, Good Works Review and Pudding Magazine.  O’Connell was awarded second place in the Poetry Super Highway poetry contest, 2019. She was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. She received Honorable Mention in the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize, 2019.  Her two poetry collections, A Prayer For Torn Stockings and What Luck, were published by Garden Oak Press. Visit Suzanne on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Suzanne O’Connell and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Our New Neighbor

We heard groans.
We traced the sound across the alley.
The weeds stood tall at the edges
like grownups watching a parade.
It’s still not clear to me
how we didn’t know she lived there.
We thought we knew every kid for blocks.
The gate had a latch that swung up.
We opened it.
She sat in a swing.
“Hi,” we all said at once.
We were so happy to meet a new kid.
She sat still.
She wore a football helmet.
She didn’t seem interested in sports.
Her head seemed very big.
Her face looked melted.
She didn’t say “Hi” back.
The back door banged open.
“You kids go home.
There’s nothing to see here.”
“But we…”
“Get on out of here and don’t come back.”
We ran home across the alley,
our dusty knees pumping.
We were ashamed of something we did.
But we didn’t know what it was.


The Black Sleeve

Moon. Like a communion wafer.
White moon, white snow.
I squint. Close one eye, then the other.
I can’t see the prayer.
I can see the red corona,
like a priest’s sacred vestment.
His blue eye.
His yellow hair.
His brown freckles.
His black heart,
as his hands reach for me.

Moon. My lamp of protection.
Where were you tonight
before the priest?
Before I could see
the little hairs on his wrists
standing up like naked trees
in the snow?
Before the black sleeve opened–
the whiteness underneath
like a tunnel leading off a cliff.

Moon! Where were you tonight
before the dogs in the distance started,
before their howls
stitched into the wind?