{ Unfinished Murder Ballads – poems – Darren C. Demaree }

Unfinished Murder Ballads
poems, Darren C. Demaree
w/ photo accompaniment of Ryan Barker’s ‘Midwest Nostalgia’
Backlash Press (2020)


The premise of blood is a color.
-from The Facts Persisted

On the occasion that flood brings you a painted body, know that I had everything to do with it…
-from The Cage Is Unwound By The Poetry Of Death

As if hiding in Eden after hearing a pop-gun, the poet Darren C. Demaree makes short work of vast vision in his Unfinished Murder Ballads, a collection of implanted cares and layered addictions as played for those still awake inside the cinema of the abrupt. Whether ashes or trailings, Demaree finds the evaporated clue and spirits it toward the character actor whose family feels abandoned by exit. Nothing in this meditation overstays, and at times it seems that words are at a loss for people. If the verses here make their first impressions hoping to access the fractured archive of impulse survival, the bodies that said verses nourish know, or pretend to know, that paranoia has only one hand. Water helps vacancy find a vein, and water goes everywhere baptism is not. Poison is the shortest story, and paint protects the frostbitten. A pair of bicycle legs dreams submergence, and a camera dreams god. Not everything comes to pass, but in the etching of this death music, in the crooked humming of shared worship and separate goal, a stillness is reached. Vignette is no small church.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here

person Imran Boe Khan, one poem

Imran Boe Khan has recent work appearing, or forthcoming, in places such as the Rumpus, Cosmonauts Avenue, Yes, Poetry, and Sixth Finch. A previous winner of the Thomas Hardy Prize, Khan is a lecturer at Bournemouth University, and lives in Christchurch, Dorset.

When You’ve been Assigned the Addict

It begins with the one person you love
growing accustomed to the pleas, the threat
of a goodbye tied to an internet history. Trust
can be melted like ice, all that’s needed is the right
heat – a betting slip on the sofa, a Merlot under
the sink, the weight of a one night stand creased
in a brow. Forget the hands of their mistakes, forget
the sickness holding their form. There are too many
windmills smashing into too many neurons to bother
waiting for the version of you a little more merciful
than yesterday. I have gained nothing from what I have
waited for. No return could mask this abandonment.
A prodigal son is nothing but impermanence.

person Mark J Mitchell, one poem

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Roshi San Francisco, was just published by Norfolk Publishing. Starting from Tu Fu was recently published by Encircle Publications. A new collection is due out in December from Cherry Grove. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster. A meager online presence can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMitchellwriter/



The room has three doors
all locked
from the otherside.


An earthen burrow
surrounded by no trees.
The mouse
does not sing.


Dirty straw in a cage
that seems perfectly empty.
An artist has vanished.


The long dark attic
holds only damp sheets
and judges.


person J.D. Nelson, one poem

J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Visit http://www.MadVerse.com for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.


the lost apple of the walking ones

I arrived on a bush plane
mud makes me mad

salad green had something to say about eating nice words
the tortoise was bug-eyed and surprised when the hare swam by

why is there a drawing of a head on the wall?
the eyes are mandalas and the mouth is a portal into the next room

that train of travel will get you back to the square where you started
the apple was a circle on the board and it grew and grew and now it is the board itself

a young hum to start in the back of the ward
after the recollecting his honor will have the high toast ceremony

to make a name as the king of eating
I have the same recommendation for you


person Ajay Kumar Nair, two poems

Ajay Kumar Nair is a student and writer from Chennai, India. His work has appeared in Isacoustic, Rattle, The Bangalore Review and Muse India among others.


Grey, & other inflammable objects

It’s Diwali & there’s a feast. Snake tablets grow
into black unwanted things, bitter molasses-like
statutory warning-like, visuals of oral cancer

& other burning birds. Conversation-like,
like conversations, louder words, smiles put on
bright rivals for the rocket clawing at the night

with its final breath. Its final breath a whistle.
Chakri, whistlingly, spins like an angry little galaxy.
On third street, a car honks before a 1000-wala

both strange to waiting-
honk, boom.
honk, boom.
honk. boom.

All of this, of course, you cannot eat
the mound of plain steamed rice is golden brown now
the way you pour curd over it-

first the peak, then the fringes
& wait for them to meet.
The day after- newspaper bits blown off

ash & other grey feelings, & a sighing rain
sweeping everything away, dousing the lakshmis
the sparrows, Hercules Deluxes, Two Sounds
that rolled off, fell off, unlit into the grass.


Where two things meet

do you remember all the bodies you’ve entered
I remember the house my grandparents moved
around in & by the house I mean the place where
the gabled roof met the sky in a line so distinct
that kingfishers perched on it waiting – waiting
by the house – I mean the rain on me & the rain
I wanted to be – I mean my grandma, her bones
firewood, snake-gods in her name & thighs &
the girl for whom the sun rose – by the house
the day I had not slept but had waded with frogs
& fireflies inside those frogs, to see the girl for
whom the sun rose drag a fallen palm leaf – her
eyes which saw mine guiltless – anywhere the leaf
falls, wherever the sun is vision my eyes are citizen.


person GJ Hart, one poem

GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov Cocktail, The Jersey Devil Press, the Harpoon Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.



Nothing between
the coffee I share
with the snail pressed
against glass
and trade deals,
and borders – on TV
an octopus tucks light
in its pockets, becomes
that moon we ran to
and still ache from –

I watch its muscles land
like gulls as my gaze
foams through
its heart – that night
I ate sushi
in a restaurant
on Battersea Rise –
I remember
Allegro Non Molto
and each bored


person Michael Prihoda, one poem

Michael Prihoda lives in central Indiana. He is the founding editor of After the Pause, an experimental literary magazine. His work has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology and he is the author of nine poetry collections, most recently Out of the Sky (Hester Glock, 2019).


America as ever-burning forest

can you see
this from the moon?

if something is out
there, tell them

turn around

we witness
the light

that indicates
they’ve already died.

i’d rather see wet,
blank expanse,

not wonder at
salvation’s timing.


person Juheon (Julie) Rhee, one poem

Juheon (Julie) Rhee is a 15-year-old student and is currently attending International School Manila. During her free time, she enjoys reading Agatha Christie’s mysteries and hanging out with her friends. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in K’in Literary Journal, Indolent Books, 580 Split, Lunch Ticket, Cleaver Magazine among others, and has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs.


Frostbite in November

It snows
for the first time
in November.
is the twenty-ninth
and snow
is only brittle,
like white cold
breadcrumbs watering
in the heat
of mother’s hand.
I do not leave the house
on the twenty-ninth,
cattle in hand,
to sprinkle boiling water
on our driveway,
because today,
is only the second
last day of November,
and snow only
offers deathbed kisses,
and has not learned
to bite.


please join the witnessing of Donna Vorreyer’s ‘To Everything There Is’

To Everything There Is
by Donna Vorreyer
Sundress Publications 2020

Faisal Mohyuddin, author of The Displaced Children of Displaced Children, has said of this collection:

“As Donna Vorreyer’s masterfully crafted, music-rich poems traverse the often disquieting and anguish-heavy terrain of aging, illness, and death—particularly that of her late parents— they remind us of our own mortality, of the ‘winless war’ of survival. ‘Somewhere in my fu-ture, my death hums / toward me in a ghostly fog,’ Vorreyer writes, speaking on behalf of all living things. But instead of allowing herself, or the rest of us, to descend into despair, To Everything There Is grants our hearts the chance to be pried open with sorrow, generously filled with vast stores of compassion and courage, then sewn shut with such tenderness that we find ourselves feeling not only more alive, more able to brave the tolls of time, but also more forgiving of our imperfect selves, our countless frailties.”

pre-order the book, here

check out Donna Vorreyer’s website here




person Aimée Keeble, one poem

Aimée Keeble has her Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and is represented by Ayla Zuraw-Friedland at the David Black Agency. Aimée lives in North Carolina with her dog Cowboy and is working on her first novel. She is the grand-niece of Beat writer and poet Alexander Trocchi.


This right

“If you are against abortions, don’t have one.”
– Scott Andrews

Unbidden – compelled as a cart-horse
in the month when most deciduous
I am unspooling
fraught because my stuffing is being snapped over
by white teeth
and so jaunty in the hips
grail bearing mutineer stripped shrill
slopping body-water singing:
the performance of our gift/curse not for you not for you not for you
when in the early dawn was it decided?
a boundary set leg to leg- a law on what comes in and out
these- my featherless wings, hunched deep abdominis
and I feral colored in the den, one raw eye on Venus
digging a little, half-sovereign blood shine and free