{ Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire – poems – Darren C. Demaree }

Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire
poems, Darren C. Demaree
Harpoon Books 2019


If god were here, above this pool in backyard Ohio, I think he’d write with wasp. I say this as the imagined part-owner of a disembodied worry as gifted to any who might look up from Darren C. Demaree’s Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire and feel a sort of third-wheel holiness in the running of a blood that sobers itself alongside Demaree’s converging of absence with artifact. As partnership may absolve loneliness of secretly playing tag and as shadow makes a lost feast for long animals, Emily, like inclusion, is untouchable. Using simile as bait for metaphor, and metaphor to say in the same breath both pain and paint, this verse fishes compass from the ashes of emergence. These are love, or better yet, loved, poems, but no phrasing here brackets tenderness as a search engine. If it’s true that muse is a trapdoor, Demaree upends discovery and makes of minimalism the handprint that trespass uses to contextualize and de-center worship that it might erase the hand and lure from fantasy the have-not of an only dream.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

{ Banjo’s Inside Coyote – poems – Kelli Allen }

Banjo’s Inside Coyote
poems, Kelli Allen
C&R Press, 2018


Verbose, strange, and woozily humble, Kelli Allen’s Banjo’s Inside Coyote crafts the hand you don’t write with and teaches one to read anything but it. How bold and earthly a move it is to make of verse an anti-inheritance and to re-other the romancing of those meek designs our art so often has on detail. These are poems made of city and of country, of salted star and of the left-footed river. Whether embodied beast or distant dust mite, they find with oddity a clarity enough to bring joy to a past joy. And as Allen so gingerly resurrects suddenness from its foregone surprise, you’ll want to double back might amnesia forget what it knows.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

Banjo’s Inside Coyote

{ The Ghosts of Lost Animals – poems – Michelle Bonczek Evory }

The Ghosts of Lost Animals
poems, Michelle Bonczek Evory
Gunpowder Press, 2019


Know, as you read Michelle Bonczek Evory’s The Ghosts of Lost Animals, that a tattoo gives up its bed for touch.  And know, after, that a rolling pin moves over a pawprint.  These poems are present, are ongoing, and call to account the short life of the summoned before.  As a whole, the work seems a travelogue for stillness, a pilgrimage to reclaim misdirection.  Absence has always been the ghost’s confessional, and Bonczek Evory makes each body- whether human or non, whether own or other, whether spirit or seedling- a church that place can enter.  It is deep, here, in light such as this that weighs our vision.  In utterance such as this that speaks shadow to an existence made of cessation.  And language has sent word- we may be lost, but we are also followed by what led us here.



reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

The Ghosts of Lost Animals

person Jill M. Talbot, poem

Jill M. Talbot‘s writing has appeared in CV2, The Fiddlehead, Geist, Rattle, PRISM, The Stinging Fly, and others. Jill won the PRISM Grouse Grind Lit Prize. She was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award and the Malahat Far Horizons Award. Jill lives in Vancouver, BC.


Dear Somebody,


I saw the documentary The Perfect Vagina
and thought of you, said no one—ever—

but it’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

I sat through six hours of world breakdown
until the power went out

and I was forced to write to you.

You have no soul,

I was told by a massage therapist

and there was this dizziness.

Being holy and caring about the stray dogs,
the starving children

and who to vote for at the local elementary school;

which is largely overcrowded and the children
are watching porn on the internet—

it was all gone.

Without a soul it all just fizzies out
like a flat soda.


You really want those cigarettes, don’t you?
What would you do for a pack?

And it’s all so disturbing, looking back.

I try not to see that sidewalk, that corner store,
that jacket.

What I would do to go back,
play it differently.

But let’s step back before—
when it started.

I was young and stupid and desperate
and being wanted was better
than not being wanted.

I didn’t care for my body much,
I didn’t think I had a body,

just a case for a worn out guitar
that always played the same melody
and lied terribly.

We used to stand outside the store,

Excuse me, mister,
can you get me some smokes?

Ending up in institutional brick
wearing pajamas with a girl who wrote
to Al-Qaeda and a guy

who exposed himself to me,

Have you ever seen
one of these before?

We were full on junkie sorrow.

Poets only write about sorrow these days—
it’s depressing.


Raccoons are turning into humans, slowly.
Their paws evolve to be claws to be hands.
Their IQ higher than a whale.

A whole underground system of garbage takers—
they will rule when we’ve lost the war. Toys R Us
will stop selling out of plushies.

There are famous cats at the Museum of Art.
My cat is just a wannabe who sleeps
with his arms open. This crazy cat lady calling
has been haunting me lately.

If purgatory were a weather, it would be rain.
A doormat, a cigarette butt, a cat door,
this giant pause—rewind—and all metaphors
that have been lost with technology.

All I told you sos and yadda yadda yadda.


I bought her a muffin and a coffee for getting the dope.

She barely recognized the girl who took my change
but told me it was her daughter and how depressing

to not recognize your own kid, she said,

and something about her daughter being pregnant
and a crazy boyfriend.

She told me about a john who liked her to dress
in a scuba diving suit

and I have thought of writing this to The New Yorker
who had a cartoon of a woman in a scuba diving suit
on a bed with her husband—presumably husband—

Sexy deep sea diver’s not a thing.

The McDonald’s muffins, the plastic bright colours,

as if to awake in The Wizard Of Oz

smoke coming out the stall. Red and yellow

swirling above, not the patience to wait
for anywhere else. The stall kept me trapped.

The note said, I was loved and discarded

and I said,

I know.


How depressing to learn I’m just as cliche
as every junkie who swore,

Never again—not this, not you—not ever.

Even my dreams are cliche, filled with the thoughts
people have when they don’t want to have sex.

The jabberwocky—the lisp. You wrote,

The hell with it.


Our problem was we always chose dare, never truth.
And oh! the things we would do. I’m ashamed now,
I must admit, and I still have that hood walk like

What the fuck

are you looking at?

The truth was lost ages ago.
The grass is always greener on the other side
when you don’t have a lawn.

Poverty isn’t inspiring enough to write on
any further, though most poets manage.

I don’t know if I’m a poet I just don’t know
what else to call myself.

I’m always surprised when poets are attractive,
is that awful?

You will learn, so they say,

and I have been dead set

on proving them wrong.


I read a paper once on rat laughter.
A machine was built so we could hear
these rats squeal.

Big Brother is watching.
Big Brother is tickling.

This is hard science. Meaning is not the point,
we are not in Freudian times!

Rat maintenance is quite expensive,
or so I heard from a statistics prof

who went on a long rant with his neck in the air
like his head was just a box to carry around glass eyes.

Enclosed was a computer that listened
to rat laughter.


I’d hate to know what your sheets look like
without me.

A status update tells me how
to have sex in space.

Facebook asks if I would rather be drowned
or shot.

Your iPhone was born
out of the mines of the Congo,

it says.


I never said what I meant,
I just drew stick people for reference.

In a chatroom I claimed
the Internet is making us all narcissistic
and was called an idiot.

In another my thread was deleted
in the free speech section. Something about
pirating your own book—it was a valid question.

I have this fantasy of an apartment devoid
of everything but lawn chairs—a dream
of conquering a place by stripping it of meaning.

I am a hoarder and it always starts with one,
as any addict will tell you. With rabbits
it starts with two. And three is always better
than two. Without you


We had a single bear that year, it was a big deal.
No one knew how it got here. We guess he swam,
a long way to swim. Lonely, it must be, to be
the only bear on the island.

People fought over the existence of this bear
as if it symbolized creation itself.

I’m not sure when bears evolved to swim
or if he swam here or was placed in some
intelligent design—this design does not seem

all that intelligent to me. For instance,

I have to walk for quite awhile to get anywhere
and if I tried to swim I’d probably drown.

I’m just trying to be honest. It’s a dying art
but one I do incredibly well. So well that sometimes
I do not believe myself.


You know I could rape you right now, you said,

I could rape you, bitch, I said.

And we argued about this. I knew
that I was wrong but I had a point to make.

Your mother was in the next room watching Oprah.

We were young and stoned and careless.
Oprah’s applause came in right on cue.
Youth dissipating, old coffee.


Achoo, you always sneeze at the wrong time
just to say, I’m still here, in this mess that accompanies
all of the poets’ unmet childhood needs.

My mom once chased a raccoon with a broom.
It waddled off, youngsters on each side—little claws.

I’m afraid I sided with the raccoons, citing
John Locke’s Property Rights.


So you’re back in solitary,
need money for stamps.
I am hunting for cigarette butts.

You are never getting out,
I am never getting in.
Is it cold where you are?
My cat says hello.

I write obituaries for the cats
and dogs at the SPCA
because somebody
has to care for them.

A sign reads,

Your mom doesn’t live here.

Dirty dishes. Unmade beds. I don’t know
who lives here. Not you, not me,
nobody’s mom,

nobody’s hero, a few lost pets,
some dead poets.
A spider.

A revolver in a shoebox.

There is a video game
to teach kids about depression,

as if it weren’t popular enough already.

I have killed a Sim named after you several times.

Once by drowning, once by fire,
and I tried to neglect a baby version of you
but social services intervened.

And the game, as it stands,
has no other methods for killing
that I know of.


You were sent to jail three times,
third time was the charm.

I didn’t let you know I had removed all

Get out of jail free


You escaped—still.

You’ve been chasing crows ever since.

I begged you not to drive,
you begged me not to say anything.

Nothing but

I love you

which I didn’t.


It’s all swirling now.
The smell of baby oil
and flavoured condoms —

You aren’t really schizophrenic.

A dead fawn on the side of the road,
missing eyes, that’s reality.

I admit I was a bit of an arsonist
as a kid. If I had been a bit more narcissistic
we’d all be dead. I read

of a girl from my school killing pets.
How strange how we all take different paths.

I wait for freedom fries from the toaster oven,
the only remaining appliance.

They have been plotting against me
since last November.

Of all the things I did to myself,
watching you leave was the worst.

Footsteps in a foreign tongue,

It’s done, it’s done.

Does the fat man not sing?

The mice are declaring a state of civil disobedience
caused by massive overpopulation and obesity.

Win-win, you called it, don’t people understand
that win means somebody has to lose?


I am small when I remember how I grew
in rage and swallowed it back down—
How dare you, Cheshire cat, don’t grin like that.

A 3-month sobriety coin chip, on your knees,
a hospital menu, a postcard,

Who were you trying to please—really?

I froze on that bed, a beer, not enough space,
Seinfeld on the black and white TV. Lying for what
but a commercial, that’s all it took, I looked up—

how long until the beer could reach my brain
which was overloaded with silence.

A sort of static, in nights that start,

You idiot kid.

Do you like this, you said.

No, change the channel.

You’re a woman now.

What a rip off.

Shhh, shhh.

It will be a quick procedure.

You put ketchup on pizza,
who does that?

This is a good one—

Pedophile, they said,

she won’t eat the pepperoni.

Superman called,

something about stolen identity.

Seinfeld never gets old.

Ha ha ha.

You’re a woman now.

I’m looking for an antique pipe

to smoke you with.


There is a woman married to the Eiffel tower,
it was made official. She makes love to it in public,
her words—makes love.

I have never understood the term
for something so primal—

I don’t know how I ever did cocaine.

She also had a tumultuous relationship
with the Berlin Wall.
We all want a communist for dinner.

There is too much negative space
and not enough humanity. I am a fraud.

You are the artist.

I am the decoration. The painting
no one knows what to say about

other than—Huhmm.

I drank coffee out of a pasta jar
this morning.


Being at one with nature is a tall order
when you live in it. I have been knocking on wood
and yellow brick and all the cliches they teach
when you’re sleepwalking.

I have been there.

Maddening, isn’t it? Those block figures
that only have one answer and automatically place
a judgment on your intelligence.

Not taking into account that I won 1st place
in grade 4 for a scarecrow contest—I won
a pencil sharpener, better than what I got
for my last published poem
but I digress…

I have always felt sorry for miniature horses.
They look just like they were shrunk by some
evil witch and would never survive a storm
or really much else, they look like toddlers
chasing dog tails.

There are men who watch

My Little Pony,

they’re called Bronies.

Now my feminist rage is starting to spill over.
Maybe the horse is fine the way he is and I still can’t solve
that fucking Rebuk cube. Or remember what it’s called.

Perhaps I will call it

My Little Phony.

Perhaps I will name it after you.

I unfriended you on Facebook

then looked up your bronies.


My heart jumped into the ocean as you
walked away, ending up in a ditch somewhere.
I feared too much and too little. In that sense,
not much has changed.

You didn’t care, I didn’t want to. I’ve failed
at forgetting, or perhaps that’s success.

On intellectual tests people confuse
sunrise and sunset.

As if we don’t know the difference
between coming and going.

You left, that I knew.
I once wanted to know it all,
now I know better, but no less

than this—you left.


You wear it like a bad joke, like day old bread,
like that foolish grin you had the day we met
at that conference on youth mental health

where we were guest speakers and I took
three bagels for the road and you told me

how lovely it was to finally meet someone
as crazy as you were

and I thought of the previous guy who hit on me
and took three more bagels for the road

and you just kept grinning.

So we got married backstage at a play
that got terrible reviews
and the Oscar for best costume design
should have gone to you.

I stole a sweater from your wardrobe,
the one with the ketchup stain.

You aren’t crazy, you’re an artist, they say.

Will somebody please explain the difference?


In poverty the cup is always full or empty.

Welfare day, aka, Mardi Gras,

the cup is full.

We fill up on wise cracks and arrogance

of knowing what can be lived without,
suffered through. Better than a full belly,

up to the brim of knowing—

All drug mules have to start somewhere.

We started in that smoke pit
where we held a funeral
for a dead rabbit.

They’ve been plotting against us.
And somehow that’s better than knowing

it was all just by chance.

Dreaming of barbed wire and institutional pajamas.
In the attic a junkie lies, building forts to hide

from the NSA while next door a boy plays
the trumpet—jazz smoking up the chimney.

Mascara was meant to run —

I don’t want to be pretty,
I just want to be loved.

I want to be loved for my ugliness.
But you want me to be
your cute sidekick.

Honesty is the best policy, you said.

And I’ve never heard an honest person
say that but honestly I don’t
have the best policies lately.


I wrote this in the margins of a book
to go along with the other notes found
in used books—French love note

found in Life of Pi

(I had it translated, quite steamy,
you would like it, I think).

Later ended up in GIRO
(Gabriola Island Recycling Operations).

A friend tells me French love note
means condom—

you called it


I have no other way of ending this
but know,

The Perfect Vagina made me think

of somebody.


{ Build Yourself A Boat ~ poems ~ Camonghne Felix }

Build Yourself A Boat
Camonghne Felix
Haymarket Books, 2019


I didn’t know art could do this. Do these. As in, I didn’t know a vision could project itself as singular and, with that projection, distract its own shape long enough to give periphery a stomach. Camonghne Felix is an asker and a teller. A thinker one rethinks so that one might get the chance to pose the same question a second time. How was fire born? Fire was born plural. Is nostalgia real? The aftermath of origin is real. Can you describe embodiment? Description is alone; description cannot swim.

Not my answers. Build Yourself A Boat is a book that marks its words and comes back for them.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

Ceremony of Sand ~ poems ~ Rodney Gomez

Ceremony of Sand
poems – Rodney Gomez
YesYes Books, 2019


On earth, an angel begins to limp. And a demon sees what imagery cannot. And a church is made for the bell of unstruck awe. And the poems of Rodney Gomez enter the collection Ceremony of Sand to be washed of their stillness. Transformation is not a crossing, here, and Gomez knows, borderlands or brief heavens, one cannot call it art if it’s just a mirror with an off-switch. Nor can one call it map if it serves merely as a marker for where the mirror works. I love the sound of these poems, and what their speaker does with hearing. These seem scenes captured once by an eye keeping secrets for the ear. This care, this hand, a stopwatch doubling midnight beneath a wig going bald. This ceremony, this anti-rehearsal, a bright and sobering exploration of how easily uncovered one can become when separation is used as a means to dress witness in invisible greys. The dream: the one where I am waiting at the bottom of a small hill for the head of god. Dream I roll from. To mean: Bless this work its escape and bless the skeletal forms herein that tally transference. The dream: the one where language has two lovers and loses them both to an absence that has recently left departure. To mean: this language is alone.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:

YesYes Books website:

facebook page:

Stay ~ poems ~ Tanya Olson

poems, Tanya Olson
YesYes Books, 2019


I have been a few weeks now with Tanya Olson’s Stay and what can I say in the radiance of how deeply it disappears but reader, read, and reader, remain. Here the boat, here the plane. Here the footprint in a bird. Here the paper doll as called to its scissored absence. Here a land to which awe is an only child, both parental and curious, not abandoned nor safe. It is here that all the letters, beyond the ones you see, go silent. Olson uses rhythm as punctuation, and capitalization as a bread crumb for the unstarred wayward. How earthen, how other, how locally sublime.

This storytelling arrives as a void burdened by abyss, and this verse adopts circle as the balefire of ghost. To move is lonely, and to move a crowd is lonelier. Dear audience, says this work, some buttons were born pressed.

Whether identity is the missing musical chair or the stolen, Olson knows when to sing and when to hum along while doing the self-imposed work of space given. Our means of transport, like the poems in Stay, do not depart.


reflection by Barton Smock


available for pre-order, here:

YesYes Books website: https://www.yesyesbooks.com

facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/yesyesbooks/