Sam Preminger – Nailed Magazine Tue, 15 Oct 2019 01:34:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Poetry Suite by Bella Thu, 03 Oct 2019 12:00:49 +0000 Poetry by Bella Illustration by Shannon Christie +++ A note from the editor: The poems below are sparing in their beauty and challenging in their content. Throughout Bella’s words you’ll find no floral language, no extravagance nor witticisms nor playful poetic whims. This poetry is blunt, terse, each syllable refined to a point. It speaks […]

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Poetry by Bella

Illustration by Shannon Christie


A note from the editor:

The poems below are sparing in their beauty and challenging in their content. Throughout Bella’s words you’ll find no floral language, no extravagance nor witticisms nor playful poetic whims. This poetry is blunt, terse, each syllable refined to a point. It speaks to abuse and trauma with a gut punch of stanzas, with stifling and scarring hurt. So why should you, dear reader, open yourself to this suite? Why welcome pain into your life?

Because the pain is only the surface of the story.
Because these spurs edge us onward, faster and bolder.
Because the scars are transformed by Bella’s words into badges of self-love, of grace.

And yet, what follows is only a sliver of the story. All of these poems are excerpted from Bella’s forthcoming collection — Side Effects of Remembering the Little Things — and have been selected to best give a glimpse into the larger narrative which her book unveils. For the full story, find Bella’s debut collection at




You’d always 

show me 

your hands 




and cut.


Oh how sacrificial 

you became.


I should be thankful 

you made the wall 

your church instead of 

my body.


Let me praise 

all the dents 

that could’ve been 

etched into my bones.


But no,

You’d never go that far.


Just a sermon

of cursed words.

Teach me 

how to worship you 

the right way.

Ask for forgiveness.

Be a blessing.

Not let you sacrifice again 

the hands that hold me

close at night.





you learn all the ways 

you make him act 

like this towards you.


So angry.


And you start to regret yourself.

Ask yourself why you are like this.

You never used to be.


Eventually, you learn 

all the ways to sink.

Become less. 

Bury deeper into 

explaining yourself.


How you’ll act better next time.


Eventually, you learn 

all the ways to swallow.


Carefully choose all your words 

and stuff the rest back down your throat.


Make them taste sweet.

Only speak when he wants to listen.


Eventually, you learn 

all the ways to stay.


Because you, eventually, learn 

to believe no one else 

will love you like this.




You haven’t left me yet.


I wonder how many goodbyes 

it takes to not taste you 

on another man’s lips.

How much time has to pass 

to not feel your hands 

whenever men touch me.

How many showers it takes 

to scrub off the scent of you.

To not dress myself in the aftermath.

To not carry all the weight left over.

To not search for a body 

that’ll prove you wrong.


Prove that I can be loved 

the right way.


When can I take me back again?


When will I get 

all the benefits 

I thought were promised 

after walking away?



The Perfect Bandaid


An ode to my scars.

A daily reminder 

of how the body 

processes pain. 

How it lets it soak 

deep into the tissues.

Allows the experience 

to rush into the bloodstream.

Feel the way 

this pain makes 

your heart beat.


And oh how it carries this new-found heaviness

with soft enough hands to bear how human I am.


And oh how beautiful it is 

when the body pieces itself back together, 

how the flesh hugs onto the bone again.


Look how the body heals after the wound,

is patient in the grieving process.

How it gives me the privilege of seeing 

the steps of healing.


Lets me know that it is not impossible.


How it forgives with a scar.

The body’s way of saying: 

look what you overcame.

The sweetest I love you.

The perfect bandaid.


Bella is a Southern California grown writer who resides in Portland, Oregon. She is the 2019 Portland Poetry Grand Slam Champion, and has performed at various events such as the WeMake Disrupt Conference, Invisible Spectrums and Intersect Fest. Her poem Joy will be featured in Black Arts Tables Anthology set to release in spring 2020. Bella’s  poetry centers around her experiences being a woman of color, her eating disorder, abusive relationships, and the hope between it all. Side Effects of Remembering the Little Things is her debut book with Lightship Press ( Through her work she hopes to create connection, conversation, and understanding so we all feel a little less alone. You can pre-order Bella’s book and find about more about Bella at


Shannon Christie is a Southern California-born, Portland, Oregon-raised illustrator. She attended the University of Oregon where she majored in Psychology and minored in Studio Art. Collaborating makes the world go round for her, and she is hungry to continue using her talents to bring life to stories that provoke thoughtfulness, reflection, and personal growth. Her focuses on both psychology and art in her life give her inspiration and perspective on how a piece moves a person and how creativity connects us all. 

You can find more of her work on her portfolio site, www.shannon‑, or follow her on Instagram at @whatshannondoes.



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Poetry Suite by Robert Torres Thu, 12 Sep 2019 12:00:33 +0000 Poetry by Robert Torres +++ Messiah Visits the Brick Quarry After the Flood If you can swallow a disembodied human eye whole without salt or sugar please write to the enclosed address. I have an ant farm you could stitch together with all your expendable mirth. You had so much time to learn to dig […]

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Poetry by Robert Torres


Messiah Visits the Brick Quarry After the Flood

If you can swallow a disembodied
human eye whole
without salt or sugar
please write to the enclosed address.
I have an ant farm you
could stitch together
with all your expendable mirth.
You had so much time
to learn to dig a hole
in which to hide your beautiful
teeth among trees
and bite heads off
birds for profit and for pleasure.
One day you’ll silence
heaven’s final chorus,
every angel beating out its morse
code hymn: Believe
what you read inside
your mottled and cavernous skull.
Let this greying barn
be your cold manger,
temple mount, Gethsemane, all.
Planks of you
will patch the roof
and stay rafters from the rain.
You string of stones.
You accident of light.


Hotline Lady

The Hotline Lady says “what’s got you down?”
I say “my priorities are askew.”
I mean “fucked,” but I want to protect
the Hotline Lady’s innocence.
I sneeze.
The Hotline Lady says “the maples are fecund.”
I say “that’s a weird thing to say.”
The hotline lady says “even trees gotta fuck.”

The Hotline Lady says “move to France,
the French love poetry.”
I say “the French are killing protestors
left and right,” but I’m
wrong again, it’s only left.
I say, “I wish I knew the French
word for left.”

The Hotline Lady says “it sounds like
you have a lot of people who
believe in you.”
I say “Catholicism.”
The Hotline Lady says nothing,
but spends a moment
filling in the joke for herself.

I say “I’m feeling better.”
The Hotline Lady says “why did you call?”
I say “I feel better but I still felt like calling.”
The Hotline Lady says “you’re not better.”

The Hotline Lady says “you were born pretty.”
My grandma says “you were born pretty.”
My witch friend says “you were born pretty.”
The Grindr boy says “hi handsome.”

I say “my boyfriend has herpes.”
I say “my grandfather is dying.”
I say “my roommate thinks the neighbors
are spying on her.”
The Hotline Lady says “hmm.”
I feel guilty for dominating the conversation.

The Hotline Lady says “take some time
for yourself.”
The Grindr boy says “hey.”
Tinder says “hey is for horses.”
I say “I feel like a horseshoe crab.”
The Hotline Lady doesn’t get the reference.
I say, “I feel wet and ancient.”
My cousin says “you’re like Cthulu because
you sleep all the time.”
The Hotline Lady says “Cthulu is wet and ancient.”


Sunday in the Park with Mud

I turn my hips and
suffer as I wait
for my weekly walk.

I feed the birds
and wait.

I stand erect
in my shoes
atop the mud.

Why recreate our shame?

I tessellated a grid
of stars across
your back

and waited.

Why recreate?

What distance is there, I put
to bridge.

I can’t remember how
you saw me while
we were fucking.

Nothing wanton living
for my weekly walks

in the park.

I grow fangs, I grow fangs
to watch your blood flow
down their length.

I feed birds.
What if I ate dozens?

There is a distance.

Once a week is better
than nothing.

Nothing is worse
than once a week.


Going to Argentina

I boil with madness
I love you I am going
to Argentina to fall in love
I go away then I call
you up I meet your husband
He asks about Argentina
I tell him about you

You go to Argentina I
lose myself at sea in love
with losing myself I take
you to the pampas on my
(rented) horse I learn gaucho
songs I play for you I take you
on my (rented) horse from
the pampas to the city and the
sea You ask love to light
the way Night falls

The sea boils with madness
I boil with love I scuttle
in the dark Your husband
puts on the gaucho song
You dance


Last Day of Winter

Tonight I’ll buy a bottle of beer
and a new sundress
and swing it in the streets
                              (the bottle)
and hoist it above my knees
                              (the dress)
The cops will throw me in jail
I’ll meet my perfect lover in the morning
They’ll beat me up
                              (the cops)
They’ll lay me down to heal
                              (the lover)


Header image courtesy of Eloy Morales. To view his Artist Feature, go here.

Robert Torres is a writer and performer based in Portland, Oregon who has worked with Monkey with a Hat On and Twilight Theater Company, and has been published by 1001 Journal, Spider Web Salon, and others. They ran the Punk Poet Society in Denton, Texas from 2011 to 2014, and co-curated the Pegasus Reading Series in Dallas, Texas from 2014 to 2015. Their work explores anxiety, delusion, revolution, and the conundrum of having a body whether you like it or not.





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Poetry Suite by Tope Ogundare Thu, 29 Aug 2019 12:00:25 +0000 Poetry by Tope Ogundare +++ the living dead a mother weeps for her children dispersed in the air by the bombs. she breathes them in with the smell of burnt flesh. her voice is hoarse from ululations. mourners force platitudes down her throat. death came visiting and left behind heaps of charred bodies and bleached […]

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Poetry by Tope Ogundare


the living dead

a mother weeps for her children dispersed in the air
by the bombs. she breathes them in with the smell
of burnt flesh. her voice is hoarse from ululations.
mourners force platitudes down her throat.

death came visiting and left behind heaps of
charred bodies and bleached bones. like the city
thrown into darkness by the failed
Power Holding Company, the lights are gone
from her eyes.

these are the tourist attractions of this country.
come and experience death in all its naked glory.
feel it in the air. taste its silken smoothness
on your tongue. hear it in the music and dance.

watch us gyrate to discordant tunes, nimble feet
made light by psychotic introversion. our reality
is like a hazy dream. drums of war serve to
lighten our dead souls. our hoarse hollow laughter
echoes in the empty chamber of federalism.

this country is a woman weeping for her children.
a mother must not know her children’s grave.
she must hold on instead to memories of birth pains
and life’s piercing cries. and become another, dead


my tears flow towards the sea

one day, i will tell the story of how you lived
olubi, daughter of the great hunter.
i will tell of how you loved
and how love killed you
how it maimed you and tore at
your mangled carcass.

kemisola, you were meant to be pampered
and steeped in wealth, but you lived in
penury and shared a bed with lack.
it was lack that tied you down to the bed,
that took away your voice
and sent you on a journey to the land
of the forgotten.

mary, i swear on your honor
that you will not be forgotten.
i swear on the sacredness of your memory
that your name will litter the pages of history:

the queen that never got to sit on her throne.
the warrior that died on the threshold of her house
on returning from her final conquest.
your heart gave out at the sound of victory,
it stayed true in battle, but betrayed
you when it was time to share the spoils of war.

i will write ballads and sing your name
on the mountain top:
warrior princess, daughter of the great medicine man.
you, who looked death in the face
and snatched your son from its jaws.
how easily did death defeat you, my mother!
how easily it plucked you like a ripened fruit
hanging low from the tree.

there was no one there to look death in the face,
no one terrible enough
to strike terror in its heart.
there are few like you, darling mother,
diminutive in stature, but a giant at heart
i am in deep pains, my mother,
like a woman in the pangs of labour.
i weep for you maami,
my heart is a spring of tears
& my tears flow towards the sea,
towards the land of sunshine, across the atlantic,
towards the sand that covers your remains


dueling with death.

it was at adewusi village that i dueled
with death. life turned on me
walking into the enclosing darkness.
in the spaces between time, i heard
the sound of silence.

somewhere on the tarmac in kazaure,
pieces of my skin still lie interspersed
with the asphalt from my first
altercation with death. then, it was
a shouting match, with a blow or two.
i walked away wincing in triumph.

but here in adewusi, i was beaten into
submission. skidding, swerving,
somersaulting and slamming
rudely onto rain-soaked soil,
suspended upside down, surrounded
by the smell of freshly cut grass and
the water’s quiet gurgle.

i have a reminder from that encounter:
this hypertrophic scar lodged between
my hippocampus and frontal cortex
that flares and torments

in eidetic imageries playing in repeat.
a time capsule and pain portal
of depolarization transporting me
to the gates of death again,
and again, and again.



olubi, your birth was precarious,
a prophecy & foreshadow of your life.
your sustenance coiled around your neck.
you fought to live, battled the cord constricting
your throat to breathe your first.
it was your first battle, the test of your resolve
and you won.

your mother named you olubi
so that you would not forget your battle with life

you will learn in the years that follow
how love is another kind of noose
and for a while you will stand on the stool
and let it hang loosely around your neck
while you drown in your tears.
but once again you will struggle
and you will win.

but before all that, your mother danced
in awe and marveled at your might.
she returned from the farm with a bundle
birthed underneath a cocoa tree,
midwifed by nature herself.

you will return time and time again to the tree
and listen to the tale of your battle.
how with bated breath the birds watched,
how the trees leaned forward and lent
of their might, how even the playful wind
stopped in her tracks and bit her nails.

you will smile when the wizened tree tells of
the cheer of the forest when your cry
pierced the silence, and mother nature
presented you to the world for the first time.
you will learn again of your strength and return renewed.

but you stopped visiting the trees,
stopped hearing how strong you are.
you allowed death to best you this time.
mother, you succumbed to death
too easily.


Header image courtesy of Tim Okamura. To view his Artist Feature, go here.

Tope Ogundare is a Nigerian, and writes poetry, short stories and essays. His first full-length poetry book was released in 2018, titled ‘The Book of Pain’. His works have appeared in Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Pilcrow and Dagger, Moonchild Magazine, TinyTim Literary Review, DASH, Intima, Snapdragon, The Aquila, Argot Magazine, Pangolin Review, Minute Magazine and are forthcoming in Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Charles River Journal and elsewhere. His poems have also been featured in two anthologies and forthcoming in Cities, a poetry anthology edited by Paul Rowes. He shares his writing on and on Medium (@topazo).


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Poetry Suite by Dion O’Reilly Thu, 15 Aug 2019 12:00:18 +0000 Poetry by Dion O’Reilly +++ Springtime: The Dog Jumps on the Bed and Bites You as We Fuck, And I Feel Young Again   Sometimes, I prayed for the return of my sins. Jesus, Let me sin again. I couldn’t help it. Look at the iconography of my tribe. Lean long-hairs nailed up like rock […]

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Poetry by Dion O’Reilly


Springtime: The Dog Jumps on the Bed and Bites You as We Fuck,

And I Feel Young Again


Sometimes, I prayed for the return of my sins.

Jesus, Let me sin again. I couldn’t help it.

Look at the iconography of my tribe.

Lean long-hairs nailed up like rock stars.

Saints, starving like haute models. Half naked.

Full of arrows. The royal-blue beauty

of the crying mother. Arms crossed

over her bleeding heart.

Like the single mom I once was, bored

of my kids, tired

of staring at the slide, waiting

for an accident.

An eye watched me all day

as I bathed the filthy,

added cheese to dimpled wafers.

Night bulged, darker than water.

But today, the house is quiet. Just you

and the meddlesome dog, whining

like an archangel. Kick her off,

lock her out. She can pester the door.

Babe. Come back here. I don’t love you,

but I’ll pull you in—

my old body, dry as a copperhead.

Let’s fight

with pitted eyes and razor spurs.

Then sleep into each other,

until we’re grafted apple trees—

the softness of our petals

becoming wind. Let’s rise up again,

say goodbye to everything.



Perhaps the most striking characteristic of roots… is that [they] originate and develop from an inner layer of the mother axis. College Botany, Volume-1 by HC Gangulee, KS Das and CT Datta

…i mean any word
traced to its origin is a small child begging for water. Sam Sax


I. Evolution


The few things that could kill us

when we lived in trees—

Snakes coiled in branches.

Falling. Others of our kind.


Whatever we find out about ourselves

under mounds in the jungle. Stone beds

of the dead, grooved with runnels

for carrying blood. Obsidian knives

to slice through breast bones,

lift our slippery hearts to the sun.


Certain smells like petrol and bitumen.

Toxic and appealing.


The sadness of orphaned prairies—switchgrass

and sideoats still alive under fences. Seed heads

in front of a plow—gloved hands

waving Goodbye,    Goodbye.


II. Generation


Memories of my mother’s rough palms

that she spat on

to clean my face. The smell of spit.


The thousand ways I was taught

to smile and shake hands.


My behavior in public. Words falling

like family china from my fingers.


Yellowy photos of broken men who loved me.

Knowing they ruined my children.

My children’s pain displacing my own.


III. Stories


Constantine changing his mind. The angel Jibrīl

looming over a dirt floor in Hira,

Mohammed watching, perplexed.


A herd miles wide we tried to

pile into bones. A blanket of fat pigeons in the sky

we wanted to prick light into.


An Archduke and Duchess, shot. The gorgeous head

of a mushroom cloud over Bikini Atoll.


Layered gelatin sparkling in compote glass

that made a Boer decide

on Apartheid.


The biggest lie about the past

is that it’s past. The present, a wall,

To keep history from swarming

the future.


Watch, as you lean against the redwood,

the starling flits, their flying matched

to any music you can think of.


The roots just below you

sending out their fingers,

trying to hold on to other trees.




We live our lives in one place
and look in every moment into another— Jane Hirshfield


I used to beg my parents to drive through suburbs,

so I could stare at tract homes, the bland windows

and porticos full of tipped-over trikes. I liked

to parse the three or four different house models,

study the flourishes— garden statues of seven dwarves,

shrubs like poodles, wagon wheels

resting on white-quartz lawns.

It made me sick how much I wanted it—

a mom with fixed-up hair,

a dad in an apron holding a Hamm’s

and flipping spare ribs. A cul-de-sac

full of boys shooting hoops, little girls

holding hands because they couldn’t bear

to unbraid their shared delight.

Different from the dirt farm where we lived,

where I felt lucky to escape, for one day,

the slash of a horsewhip, where

I was told to carry my plate to the floor,

eat my dinner next to five sad mastiffs,

each of us gulping a slab of freshly-butchered bull heart.

I must have been crazy to return to that farm,

to raise my twins there, close

to the smell of mountain lilac and chicken shit.

The woman who looked itchy as she beat me

became a doting grandmother who fed them

homemade cheese on Red Delicious, bought them

pink and blue Oshkosh from catalogues,

walked them through pastures to touch

the nose of a newborn Jersey.

And now, more than half-a-century past, my mother

still stares out the window at the pigsty, curdles

her milk and stirs the whey with a wooden spoon.

And sometimes it’s hard to believe

I’m here too, slouched in the spruced-up barn

near dying oaks and a cow field,

drinking pots of bitter tea and looking at people

on Facebook holding up goblets of yellowy wine

or standing on Half Dome, arms lifted like gods.

I’m here so she can call me if she falls

or needs to talk about the hawk that drops down

and rips the neck of her pampered bantam,

her pain, almost too much to bear.



This morning, a coyote


paced across the path, laughing at us,

light as a ghost, pink tongue resting

on his teeth. My terrier lost her mind

chased him down to the rocky bottomlands.

I couldn’t follow. Could only hear her screaming,

while buzzards tilted above me.


I covered my ears with my palms. Began

walking home. An hour later, she returned.

Limping. Riddled with burs and small punctures.


Why isn’t the well-worn trail enough?

It loops around a meadow. Pricked by birdsong. Live

oaks dripping like metronomes. Ancient pines

swimming in mist. I look back at my house,

and its red paint appears joyous.


Do I look happy? I gave up predators

long ago. Although one left a tooth in the tender

skin of my neck. Oh, stupid dog, I’ll never

blame you. Always looking for

distractions in the fabulous stink of pheromones.


Is Phoenix waiting for me somewhere?

A brick espresso house. An Alanon meeting?

I want more of his presents—

sketch of a mobius strip, tiny handmade

envelopes made of twenty-dollar bills, stuffed

with poetry borrowed from a Persian poet.

I want to hear his lies about my looks. Believe

I have chosen what chose me.


But he escapes. Down the slot canyon.

Stay. Don’t follow, Dion.


Header image courtesy of Haley Craw. To view her artist feature, go here.

Dion O’Reilly has spent  much of her life on a farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She has worked as a waitress, barista, baker, theater manager, graphic designer, and public school teacher.  Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Sugar House Review, Rattle, The Sun, Massachusetts Review, New Letters, Bellingham Review, Atlanta Review, Catamaran, and a variety of other literary journals and anthologies, including an upcoming Lambda Literary Anthology. Her work has been nominated for Pushcarts, the Intro Journals Project, and was sent to the judges for The Folio Literary Journal Poetry Contest and the Peseroff Prize.


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Poetry Suite by Christina Yoseph Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:00:11 +0000 Poetry by Christina Yoseph +++ Night Out That night The train was crowded; We stopped downtown To wait out the rush On the platform; Mascara flecks mingled With your freckles, I played with the curls Growing over the nape Of your neck; Someone stopped To warn us Of the bad day ahead; We made it […]

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Poetry by Christina Yoseph


Night Out

That night
The train was crowded;
We stopped downtown
To wait out the rush
On the platform;
Mascara flecks mingled
With your freckles,
I played with the curls
Growing over the nape
Of your neck;
Someone stopped
To warn us
Of the bad day ahead;
We made it home,
We relished the day,
But everything
Is not fine;
There is just
so much to lose.



Ants once dispersed gather into small colonies
Across the soft mound of your belly where
Groupthink convinces them that your body
Is a network of tunnels to be excavated,
Your navel, a portal:

A moonbeam patterned after a wooden lattice;
A snapshot of an unrequited love dreamt up
Through the lens of a kaleidoscope;
A pearl of sugar cradled by a cushion of flesh,


The Baby Shower

You covered one eye,
And I covered one of mine,

And it wasn’t made clear that day
Who could see the other;

We each noted, at least, the trails
We’d side-by-side traveled

Their grooves impressed into
The surrounding foothills

As if by the prongs of a fork—
But, even then, only on one side.


I Don’t Kick or Scream; I Lie in Wait

I like when I see a tall woman
In the grocery store;

I love a woman
With broad shoulders;

I give a fuck about Teddy Geiger’s
Engagement to her girlfriend
And no one else’s;

My friends don’t say the word
“Transgender” aloud;

I gladly let weddings, children,
And canyons come between us,
Tearing to shreds decades of
Intimacy and compassion;

The me with the reptilian brain
Knows nothing makes me feel
The cold of my own blood
Running through my veins
More than fast company does;

If I could wear a ring and
Have a piece of paper with
Two girly names on it,
Would I want to?

Maybe, maybe.


Header image courtesy of Stephanie Buer. To view her Artist Feature, go here.

Christina Yoseph is a writer whose essays and poems have been featured or are forthcoming in EntropyGlass: A Journal of PoetryNailedPithead ChapelThe Rumpus, and more. She lives in California with her illustrator-musician girlfriend.

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Poetry Suite by Marjorie Sadin Wed, 03 Jul 2019 16:00:12 +0000 Poetry by Marjorie Sadin +++ The Wind Wind flicks leaves off the trees. The streets are filled with radios turned up loud. The sky is black. The moon pared like a slice of lime. The air cold as a morgue. I walk fast so that no one will follow me. Street lights blur, leaving haloes on […]

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Poetry by Marjorie Sadin


The Wind

Wind flicks leaves off the trees.
The streets are filled with radios turned
up loud. The sky is black.

The moon pared like a slice of lime. The air
cold as a morgue. I walk fast so that
no one will follow me. Street lights blur,
leaving haloes on the sidewalk.

When I arrive home, I make a pot of tea.
You leave a message saying you’ll be home late.

I turn on the TV and there are more killings.
I still hear the wind rousing sleepers.
Children aren’t safe on the streets anymore.


The Root of the Tree

That night when the root of the tree is no longer the root,
when the wind has ripped it right out of the ground.

The tree lies on its side with all its root
a tangle of dirt and weed exposed to the cold.

After big rain, there is a certain calm. The tree lies still.
The stars recede and the moon stands still.

The root of the tree shivers

in recognition. The earth and the sky have been pulled out.
The tree lies on its side.

This night, the wild roots swim in the wind, the night is a long
river, the river is a long dream, and from the earth, the whole

tangled root keeps waking. This night

when the root of the tree is no longer the root, the wind has ripped it
right out of the ground.


My Dreams Are Real

I live with a man who pulls the covers at night.
I moan in my sleep when I dream.

He knows me like the sea knows sand.
He rolls over me.

I dream a woman entices me.
She is dressed in black.

He asks me where I’ve been.
I say where I learned to love death.

He breathes in his sleep.
It sounds like drowning.


The River Meanders

The wind shivers upriver.
The moon wakes up late.
There is stillness
and breath.

Tomorrow is conjured by today.
Yesterday, tossed aside.

They say life is brief,
but not for the waiting.
They say life is fair,
but not for the losing.

And at its inception
the universe shrugged,
didn’t have any idea
what it would become.

The river embarks
for its destination,
arrives on time
by the clock of the moon
somewhere in South Texas
where it meanders to the Gulf.

The sun rises,
roams over the river.
Grows tired and sleeps
in the cusp of the moon.

Something is startled
by the rustling of birches
and the thought
that everything that is disappears.


On Turning 65

My hair has turned white, though I color it brown.
I am admitted as a senior.
People give me seats on the metro.

I remember thinking
I would live forever—my childhood
riding a bicycle to the horizon.

My mother is in a stream.
Losing my husband will be like
going blind.

I have time to live. The bottle
is not empty. I get drunk
on what is left.


Header image courtesy of Dario Calmese. To view his Photo Essay, go here.

Marjorie Sadin is a nationally published poet with poems in such magazines as The Little Magazine, Blaze Vox, Big Windows Review and Jewish Women’s Literary Annual. She has five books of poems in print including a chapbook, The Cliff Edge, and a full length book, Vision of Lucha about struggle and survival, love, death, and family. Recently, Marjorie published a new chapbook, Struck by Love.  She lives and reads her poetry in the Washington DC area.







The post Poetry Suite by Marjorie Sadin appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

Poetry Suite by Megan Waring Tue, 04 Jun 2019 12:00:41 +0000 Poetry by Megan Waring + + +   Beginning on Your Bed and Ending in a High School Hallway It took me months to tell you what happened to me in high school. First, I didn’t want to. Then, you didn’t want me to. And now here we are, sitting criss-cross applesauce on your bed, […]

The post Poetry Suite by Megan Waring appeared first on Nailed Magazine.


Poetry by Megan Waring

+ + +


Beginning on Your Bed and Ending in a High School Hallway

It took me months to tell you
what happened to me in high school.
First, I didn’t want to. Then, you didn’t want me to.
And now here we are, sitting criss-cross applesauce
on your bed, facing each other. You are staring
into my eyes. I am staring into yours. Your hair is messy.
Mine too. I am leaning against the headboard
because I am weak. You are sitting up straight
because you are flexible. We are answering
The 36 Questions That Make You Fall In Love.
We are already in love. You for months, me for longer.
It’s not a competition, I know. When I tell you, I wonder
if you will believe me. Or if you will turn into Rebecca,
standing by the lockers we always stand by,
in the fluorescent light we always see by,
before the bell we always obey. Rebecca who
tucked her hair behind her ear, said
Girls lie about that sort of thing all the time.
Rebecca who just turned, walked away, taking with her
sleepovers, tiny notes folded into squares, braids,
sex advice from magazines, college essays–
as if it was nothing. As if she couldn’t even feel
the weight of it dragging behind her.

-after Kim Addonizio

+ + +


Peach Ice Cream

The murder podcast I listen to while making
dinner for one, chats about the facts of Typhoid Mary,
a woman quarantined after people kept dying
from eating her homemade peach ice cream.
Asymptomatic Mary can’t believe it’s her, this disease
that turns people inside out. She feels nothing. They beg
her to stay out of the kitchen, cross her heart and–
stop cooking. Wash her hands. Stubborn Mary refuses.
The Podcasters say what the heck, back away
from the food. But I get it, handwashing was a new concept
and she wasn’t sick. There is pain in seeing things
as they are. Relatable, Stubborn Me thinks as I set
the table for one.
                            I keep coming back
to this nasty place inside of me that is waiting
for permission to be mad at you– got an old habit
of playing the victim. Delusional Mary made a vow, but went
back to cooking, killing– a murderer who can’t believe she’s guilty.
When you told me you weren’t
                            moving to Boston,
I cried so hard in my best friend’s shower I had to sit, couldn’t trust
my legs. Pushed my face into tile, pushed my tongue
to my teeth. Listen,                    I know it’s toxic
to hold on to blame, know this comparison to Mary is weak
but Colombia is just so far away and has shitty wifi. Yesterday
I tried to tell you that I missed our Trader Joe’s ritual
but my text came back: “undelivered”. I don’t even know
where Trader Joe’s is here and it’s fucking me up.
Listen, I know
                            that long distance isn’t murder
and that this is a shitty analogy. I’m just saying
sometimes the nasty bits seep in and attack
the healthy thing we are creating.
Listen, I’m just saying
                            I’m sorry. Come home.
I am so lonely I am relating to killers.
Listen, I’m saying I miss you.

+ + +



The God of Waste came to me saying let me in.
I said the door is already open, the lock
broke years ago. The God of Waste broke
open her own jaw and swallowed the whole
seed of the house with me in it saying don’t
talk back. I screamed for help for twelve
days straight until my Throat quit, packing
her bags and leaving, saying Einstein would call
this insanity. So I resorted to clapping, hoping
someone would hear, someone with a rope, with jaws
of life. I clapped and clapped inside the God of Waste,
steady at first, but by day nineteen just a broken
faucet. My hands reduced to raw chapping skin
by day twenty-two. Bone-now-sand on day
twenty- eight. On day thirty, the God of Waste dry-
heaved me back to land. Said see, you have done nothing
but make noise, you waste, you Waste.

                                                            There is no God
of Waste. I am lying on my side, staring at the same spot
on the same wall.

+ + +

You’ll Be

Okay puts on her torn sleep shirt, lies in bed, six pillows high,
watches Hulu. Okay drinks corner store chardonnay. Throws
the shitty dinner down the sink and goes for take-out. Okay forgets
she promised herself to eat paleo this week, sneezes too loud
on the subway, cries on the phone to her best friend about how Cristina
left Meredith and it’s the worst death on tv. Okay loses seven pounds
and gains back three, buys yellow flowers and lets them wilt in a glass.
Okay wears flat shoes and cheap pants from Target,
but she throws them out when they rip. Okay does above average
at her job most days, but some days the clock just drags on. Okay
goes to work anyway. Okay makes frittatas every Sunday until she is tired
of frittatas and dumps the frittata down the sink. Okay watches
Sex and the City even though she knows it is problematic, still feels
so betrayed when Big doesn’t show, texts her best friend why not Aidan?
Okay drinks the coffee even after it’s cold. Okay cuts the bruise
out of the apple. Okay listens to Carly Rae Jepson in her earbuds,
that only work at that one exact angle. She puts her hands
in her pockets, finds the crumbs of a cookie and smiles.

+ + +

Beet Juice

I take a teaspoon to my childhood garden,
looking for something I lost.
My fingers crumble the soil
until they clench the coarse black hairs
of my first boyfriend’s beard. I tug
him up and watch him stand
and shake off

the years.

He pulls a cigarette out of the calla lilies.
Flicks his fingers to light it. Looks down
like he might devour me.

I thought you drowned,
I look up at him rising above me,
in your mother’s bathtub.

Who hasn’t? He says as he coughs
out a cloud of smoke and a single beet.
Be honest with yourself.

He hands me the beet and rambles
down the street, sputtering like his old truck.
I drench the beet with salt. Eat it for dinner
with a teaspoon. Forget to shake off the dirt.
The red juice stains my chin.

+ + +

Header image courtesy of Jay Riggio. To view his artist feature, go here.

Megan Waring is a poet, playwright and fiber artist who currently resides in Boston.  She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech and is currently earning her MFA in poetry from University of Massachusetts Boston.  In between degrees, she worked in education and non-profits in China and California. She is the honored recipient of Virginia Tech’s Literary Award and her work is forthcoming or published in Salamander, The Legendary, Pulp Literature, Aegir, and Germ Magazine, among others. Her second co-authored play, Archer and the Yeti, is being produced by Greene Room Productions in October 2019.


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This Mmm World with Ken Yoshikawa Tue, 23 Apr 2019 12:00:44 +0000 On 4/6/19, Ken Yoshikawa and I sat down at AFRU Gallery in SE Portland to discuss poetry, acting, bummers, sonnets, and his recently released spoken word album, Quiver.   To purchase the album, go here. To read Ken’s Poetry Feature, go here. + + +    + + +  I’m Sam Preminger, the Poetry Editor […]

The post This Mmm World with Ken Yoshikawa appeared first on Nailed Magazine.


On 4/6/19, Ken Yoshikawa and I sat down at AFRU Gallery in SE Portland to discuss poetry, acting, bummers, sonnets, and his recently released spoken word album, Quiver.


To purchase the album, go here.

To read Ken’s Poetry Feature, go here.

+ + +


 + + +

 I’m Sam Preminger, the Poetry Editor of Nailed Magazine, and I’m currently being joined by Ken Yoshikawa.




Hi. So for those who don’t know, Ken Yoshikawa is a shin-issee




Shin-issei/first generation half-Japanese American poet-actor from Portland, OR. He has been active in the Portland Poetry Slam community since 2014. He loves blue chicken taco trees and resents punctuation and grammar at his convenience.


Haha. Sometimes you just need a bio, right?


Yeah. I think my first question, because I’ve read that bio before and been curious, is what is a blue chicken taco tree?


It’s a reason to take grammar and punctuation not seriously. I mean, I love the color blue, I love chicken tacos, and I like trees.


That’s a shame, I was really hoping it was something that grew around here that I just didn’t know about.


What?! I think that’s the name of a restaurant waiting to happen.


So, you’ve just released your spoken word album – Quiver – any of our listeners can go hear you perform a chapbook’s worth of poetry if they want.


I’d love that. I’m so excited about it.


The first thing I was curious about is when listening to these poems and listening to you read especially it feels very close to your body and yourself. So is there ever a point where Ken Yoshikawa who’s reading the poems is separate from Ken Yoshikawa who’s sitting with me now?


Oh that’s a great question. I guess let me build into it because I don’t actually know the answer. I mean, obviously I’m still here. The guy who reads the poems on the stage into the microphone is also the guy who is talking to you now and is also the guy who needs to eat breakfast and likes chicken tacos and goes to the bathroom and this and that.


So when we hear a performance of your poetry, it is coming from you as a poet?


Yeah, I would say sometimes some things come through me, right? Like the best I can do is get out of the way. Or I hand myself over. How do I put this? Say the Ken who likes chicken tacos and uses the bathroom and wakes up in the morning is a part of me, but maybe each of us are actually way way way more limitless than the bounds that we give our daily, mundane self. I tend to believe that and when I perform I feel either A) that I am getting out of the way of something else to come through me OR I am being so potently myself that I can shine fully unabridged who I am in my immediate presence.

Or, actually, the way I feel about, the way I show up when I’m performing is that I’m making the connection to the people that I’m talking to. I think that’s the best way, the simplest way for me to feel that and the poetry helps me get over my own self in my brain so that I can actually just feel connected. That’s the best way to put that.


You brought up this idea of being potently yourself and acting as well, I was wondering about that. I often think of acting as deception almost, you’re trying to convince the audience you’re another person with another life, another mind whereas performing poetry feels somewhat opposed to that idea, you’re trying to convey a very authentic version of yourself, I believe. Do you find those two arts that you practice to be in tension with each other at any point? How do they inform one another?


First let me address acting. There’s so many schools of acting and I think there are many kinds of actors, people like Joaquin Phoenix or Natalie Portman, who just dive really into it, Glenn Close, they go go go go go, but at the end of the day you look at that person and you still see Joaquin Phoenix is right there. I mean, as an actor maybe I have that, which is to say you called it an act of deception, but there’s no way you can approach acting without being intimately connected to yourself, with the person that you are. I remember even Alan Rickman said “have opinions, have a strong personality, so you have something to show when you’re actually in front of a camera or on a stage.” You can’t be an empty person and just convince everyone otherwise; there has to be something real, believable. Every actor gives of themselves potently and honestly whether or not…I think the good ones do, they draw upon themselves.

As a poet, it’s interesting then, I am bearing things that are true to me as an individual that are written by me for me to share with the world, but often a lot of my poetry goes beyond who I am, you know? It’s big big concepts, things where I’m like what the hell is this I have to put this into a poem. Which eventually the only way I can do that is often to ground it through who I am and my experiences, so to share that is ultimately very vulnerable and very real to me. But it’s funny, I’ve been doing it so much that I am watching myself share the parts that are true about myself watching the audience catch an image of who I am on stage, right? This might be all a really roundabout way of saying that of course I’m probably creating a kind of persona of myself at the same time, but the key is to really just feel my body, you know what I mean? What is true to me in the moment? And when it’s simple it’s best, I think: I’m going to read a poem because I want to connect to you. Me. You. Connection. Poem facilitates it.


It’s much more direct.


It’s much more direct. And I like that a lot. I love making a connection to the audience. Does that answer your question?


Yes, absolutely. I think that comes across very clearly in the album. Now, I know you were in a studio, you weren’t with an audience recording this, but we can hear all that joy and anger and these very powerful emotions that comes through in your voice. I, personally, find it delightful – I love listening to it and feeling the sincerity of those emotions when hearing the tracks.


Thank you. I guess then as an actor, in order to do acting well, you’ve got to know how to be honest as best as you can so that you can be vulnerable – show the feeling, feel the feeling – which I think has helped me almost oil the gears, right? So that when I’m actually like what is it Ken is feeling as a person? Sometimes it’s simpler. It’s simpler than…if it feels right, feels good, feels right, then that’s me. That seems truly honest to myself.


So, speaking of honest with yourself, one thing I noticed listening to the tracks is that you do a lot of code-switching, you move back and forth between English and Japanese and in ‘Quiver’ I believe you said “my heart speaks Japanese”. Are those moments of switching speaking more sincerely, more authentically from the heart when you’re writing in Japanese?


Oh my, okay. My Japanese is not as good as my English and it’s the Japanese of a child. I learned Japanese as a kid and I was raised, but then away from Japan and my dad and retained it because my subconscious, my inner self, my child self, those pure places are coded in Japanese. For me, it’s really easy to tap into the little boy inside myself, to connect to that, the child, in Japanese. It comes through so clearly and also because of that, because my Japanese isn’t as good, it’s simpler than my English is. My English is really complicated an all over the place. I can dance and contort and do whatever with English which I’m still learning to work the language, but it’s interested…so code-switching? Yeah, I have to work harder to arrive at emotion in English than with Japanese where I can be like ‘gahhhh kuso’. It hits a spot that English can’t necessarily.


So if the Japanese is coming from a younger perspective is it then in dialogue with a more adult self when you’re writing back and forth?


I would say yea. I would say that I can destroy things with English. I can use English to wreck my emotions and thoughts. It’s very destructive what English can do in my brain. Japanese doesn’t necessarily do that; it’s a very pure, simple thing because it hasn’t be acculturated into any community long enough to be disillusioned except of course with the break-up of my parents. I also have an interesting relationship with Japanese because my dad always wanted me to study Japanese and I never felt it was necessary. I wrote about this recently in a poem. I think I had to find a way to reclaim that part of me and the English-speaking part of me had to learn to become more compassionate otherwise it would’ve become ashamed. I think that the shame around being different in this country is a big thing for a lot of people and re-claiming language and personal power and identity is a big wave, a big revelation I think is a better word than wave right now, a transformation that’s happening in a variety of people and that dialogue within myself is a true relationship, an intra-relationship. I just want to feel okay and loved really at the end of the day. Does that make sense?


Yeah, very much so. And you bring up that idea of re-claiming things, re-claiming power. I’ve heard you speak about this in interviews before actually, so I was thinking about it a lot while listening to the album and preparing for this. A lot of your poems center around the idea of reclaiming power from a culture around you that’s trying to whitewash the things that you grew up with an idolize and yourself and your identity and reclaiming power from this relationship with a mentor-abuser. Do you feel that you can reclaim power through poetry or is it a performance of what that would look like?


I absolutely think I can reclaim that through poetry. I believe that poetry allows me to re-code myself. I think if I look back on that relationship in particular, one of the reasons I was in that relationship in the first place was because I didn’t know how hold power at all, I just gave it away, it was too uncomfortable, it burned in my hands, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like responsibility. I just wanted other people to make decisions for me, that kind of thing. I think by writing in the first place, I give myself power to begin with, to reclaim myself, the parts of myself that I gave away, that I rejected. Then…how to say? It is the performance of it to because fake it ‘til you make it, right? But at the same time, you can’t go anywhere you can’t see in some ways. That’s probably an imperfect phrase, but like – Vision: I’ve got to see myself as being that centered, powerful human being who is able to create and do and make choices and love and care and fail too, right? Give myself the space to be weak and to fail and to be afraid because I think that when it comes to power, being a cis-man in this culture – I mean, any human of course – but there’s the demon, the ghost that cis-gendered people carry in their blind spots and I think that’s what I’ve seen reflected form the nonbinary individuals that I know. It’s like Yo, there’s something going on! Take a look at that! Stop neglecting or abusing that privilege. Which is to say…I don’t know what I’m talking about.

But when it comes to power and being a man, I guess, which in and of it those were two of the things that got me bound up with that guy: power, personal power, magnetism, sexuality absolutely. All of the deep-root things that drive you forward and make you feel good about yourself. Intimacy. All of that stuff. Fear. He mocked me for being afraid. He goaded me into it and he took advantage of me, it’s true, because I was so insecure and at one point I must have let him, but it’s not my fault. I guess that’s the key. That kind of person is going to take advantage of the people around them and then, of course, it’s their fault, but the thing that they can do is take responsibility for the pain that they now have after it and then just learn I guess. Or have power so that when that happens again, and it did, in a different person, and I was like This is not okay. I’m leaving right now. This is awful. I can’t. Very soon after that relationship ended, too. That keeps showing up until you can say Fuck off or Go away, I don’t want anything to do with that. I need to create a space for myself where I can be safe and I think after all these years – it hasn’t been too long – but I feel like I’m now able to really just feel myself. It’s hard to put a finger on. Eventually, one day I’ll cry and that will be nice. I don’t know when that will be though, it’s hard to say.


This conversation almost mimics what the progression of Quiver is where you seem to be working through this relationship and growing across these poems. On repeated listening to it, I’ve really noticed the shift in the speaker between each poem, this gradual building, and it really stands out when you look at say ‘In the Eye of the Devil’ where we have the metaphor of the fly which becomes  a practice of how you lure someone into abuse, and then you revives this later on in ‘Heaven’ where the fly once again appears and there’s this moment of vulnerability and instead of taking advantage of it the speaker, who is you we’ve established, decides to take that vulnerability as muse in a way. Are you aware of the growth that occurred while recording this album? Do you feel different now than when you went into it?


I do, I do. I would say to start out, I have been and remain very insecure about publishing and publicly displaying my work or turning it into paper, turning it into this and that and showing it to the world. Of course I’m afraid of rejection, I’m afraid of this and that and really distraught by the prospect of people not caring. It’s the thing that gets me – that they just don’t care. In order for me to of course do it in the first place I’ve got to get over that, I’ve absolutely get the hell over that and I think I heard that the people that care won’t mind and the people that mind won’t care or something like that; it’s a phrase like that. You do you and people will find you that love you and enjoy you and then the people that don’t really or can only go so far will be there. That’s the vulnerability for me that affects me emotionally the most in some ways and the process of recording this album has been to get over the sense that I am a nuisance to the world like a fly. The fly to me is a nuisance. It bothers me, it’s in my face, I don’t like it, what does it want from me, it’s going to eat after me and it’s not taking care of itself, it’s scavenging, or who knows what and as an artist maybe that’s how I feel about myself sometimes.

I didn’t write ‘Heaven’ thinking about the fly from the other poem which is interesting. A couple of years down the road it clicked in my head: What’s this fly doing over here? Oh my god, did I do that? I notice that in some of my writing. Down the road, years down the road, I’ll look back at something I wrote and it’s like “This wasn’t for me then, this is for me now” or “It helps me now”. I don’t like to think there’s too much purpose, but it serves a function. I guess looking at those two poems I realized they had to be connected because the first one is the fly that got swatted or flicked or something. I remember the day he showed it to me too. In the second one I remember that fly buzzing around and honestly what I ended up doing was I did turn out the light, but then I also put a headlamp on the veranda porch and I turned all the other lights out and I opened the doors and it just flew out by itself, but it didn’t want to leave otherwise because it really was wanting the light that day, it was really fascinating. You know, I didn’t want to sleep with the fly in the room honestly, but I ended the poem that way. Behind the Scenes! But yeah…That moment was somehow precious to me and I’m glad I got to bring it into words.

The relationship I have with myself is one that I think shows up a lot in my work and as I’ve grown as a poet and visually considered from piece to piece through time, absolutely I think my poetry is a way I come to terms with my own reality, loving myself, taking care of myself, helping myself accept myself. It’s very selfish, very self-centered work I think that I write, but if anyone else can relate to it then…well, yeah.


We’re talking about this process of revisiting work and finding that it has what you needed there and using it to explore these difficult experiences. So I was listening to an interview recently with Paul Tran, they were on VS. and they were speaking about the distinction between writing about pain and relieving yourself of that pain through the writing as opposed to re-living the pain through the writing. That very much brought your work to mind as soon as I heard it as you spend quite a bit of this album looking at very painful experiences. And while often the conclusion will move towards a place of gratitude, I think, and elevate yourself, you almost reach back and help yourself though the poems, I was wondering what the experience is like for you of both writing and frequently performing these pieces. Do you find that you’re relieved of that burden by sharing it or do you force yourself back into the experience?


I don’t force myself back into the experience, to answer the question. I think that’s important. Even in acting, you never actually – I mean some people do – but the best thing to do is to be honest in the moment, but not stay there and make it too vivid because then it actually takes away from the story when you’re on stage if you’re truly actually triggering yourself into some trauma. It’s very dangerous, don’t ever do that as an actor.


What about as a poet?


As a poet, I think that I don’t relive them. I think the poems… I’ve built them to be able to carry them along. Nor am I either – to answer your question – relieved. In some ways yes, but I think the key word is transmuted. All of this somehow is transmuted through the creation of art that is shared with others and seen as it is. It’s transmuted in the connection in the connection and relationship I build with the audience, that kind of almost absolution because even when you forgive great emotion, it’s still there it’s just different now. There’s less tension. Vocalizing something is amazing.

I remember I showed up to Velo Cult Bike Shop when we had the slam a few years ago, four years ago maybe, and I read ‘In the Eyes of the Devil’ and the crowd just embraced me and was really loving and I was thrilled and it was good and wholesome. I needed that. I needed that very much so. Yea…I don’t relive it. I let the words carry me through it and I think that’s what I mean because I’m someone who gets stuck on something and will just hold onto it for years obsessively and in some psycho-physical way I feel it in my body and I find myself always returning to it like it has so much gravity. I want to be relieved of it, but I think I have to return to the process of turning it to words, sharing it with the world, letting it transmute, and keep up with the process. I think this just going to be my life now.


So you’ve been performing this poem for at least four years then. Do you find that it changes over time as you perform it?


It refines. It’s become a structure that I can share of myself and I think that it does in its work accurately portray, and earnestly, the love and the fear and the hate and the frustration of that whole relationship. As easy as it is to despise that man, to be afraid of him or to want to have vengeance or to feel he deserves whatever ill might come to him for the things that he has done – not just to me, but other people as well – I am befuddled by the fact that I still love that person. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand. There is a deep fear and resentment, yes. There is the I am afraid of this person. This person may one day do more ill and I don’t know. But there is also the way I can’t help, but care and I can’t wrap my head around that. It haunts me in some ways and I don’t like that.

I don’t want to redeem him because he is a dangerous terrible human being who… I also see how broken he is in the ways I know him and what has happened in his life, but that does not excuse or condone anything. He deserves to be punished, I believe, but…I care. That relationship and the depths of the way that person was able to navigate my mind so intimately means that, well he told me this “Ken, you’re always going to remember me.” He was very self-aware of what he was doing and its effect of me and there are layers. I can’t even get into the layers of that in a poem as short as five minutes, but he knows that every day I think about him. He knows that. Maybe there’s a part of him that delights in that. Maybe not. And every time I share that relationship with the world it’s another way that I’m…I don’t know, maybe I’m not relieving myself of the burden, but transmuting that and returning the power to myself and taking away…the voice, his mouth is so very close to my mind and ear that it’s like…I’m putting another millimeter of space there, another centimeter of space between him and I, that the way that he talks about me, what he has to say about me, doesn’t define who I am. Anyway, so reading that poem every time is powerful for me and if people embrace it, I’m grateful. And also, it costs energy like a spell, but it also generates energy like a spell.


Thank you for sharing all that.


Oh sure, absolutely. I’m happy to talk.


To re-focus us on the poems for a second, I noticed that all throughout you seem to be inventing forms except for sonnets. You seem to have a certain love for the sonnet that keeps coming up. What is it about that form that is tempting you where others don’t?


Okay, that’s a good point, that’s a good question. I’m asking myself that question too. For one, I like…I’m in love with Shakespeare! I tell you what, I love Shakespeare. I think I always have as an actor and as a writer admired the work, the meter. I guess I have assigned myself the Shakespeare Challenge of writing as many sonnets as Shakespeare did. Which is just to do it, right? To give myself a moon-shot. Go for it. Be big. To just accept the caliber of my work as it is. I’m not trying to write Shakespeare sonnets, but write Ken Sonnets, right? And I’m always going to be in his shadow, I think that’s true. I very much feel a kind of wanting to live up to that, but a good friend of mine once told me that there’s no shame in being defeated by a master and so it’s like I’m letting Shakespeare be the big, like in a dojo the teacher who just throws you every time, throws you on your ass and you get back up and you practice. I see sonnets as an exercise, as a construction of, to go with the metaphor of Quiver, a bunch of arrows, ammunition, and as a Sagittarius – I’m an astrologer –that imagery is big for me I guess. Each one I make has a trajectory, has an aim. I’m still trying to understand the form itself and what it’s for. I think it’s supposed to be meant for love and such, but it has done so many other things for my brain, I wonder…I wonder. And having something consistent to return to that I’ve committed to like This thing, this thing. I’m just going to keep doing it, I don’t know why, but I’m just going to keep doing it, maybe that simplifies things for me.


Are there other forms that you’re interested in exploring going forward?


Haha not really. I guess I’m pretty stubbornly sticking to sonnets. I don’t think they’re very popular to be honest, but they’re one-minute performances – the good ones – and people like them. Other forms? I like iambic pentameter a lot. I’ve been playing around with haikus a little bit, or senryūs, even though they’re not about nature, they’re about people. I usually just write mostly from intuition I guess. The more I think about a poem the more structure it needs to have, I think. When I used to write I’d just write and write and write and I’d have these big winding things that were monstrous and not very good. I wanted to put more conciseness on my work and try to fit it and I think the sonnet it doing good to give me structure, something to follow me. Maybe it limits me. Maybe I do need to be limited sometimes so I can make creative choices without thinking too much. If I really just focus on this one thing ad nauseum almost who knows what might come up through that blow dart tube? It’s a specific projectile. I don’t know how to put it. Maybe underneath it all there’s a kind of self-worth thing to do with trying to be the best that’s ever been and I think that’s really destructive honestly. I’ve thought about this yesterday, there’s an old high school poem I wrote: To try to be the best above the rest expect the test from this lame duck life. My dad always said you’ve got to be number one, at least recently, especially as an actor, as a performer, you’ve got to work harder than everyone, you’ve got to be better than everyone and you’ve got to rise to the top, but I don’t think that actually works the way American entertainment is these days. You necessarily integrate into a community. All of that to say this is still back to my dad, I think. My obsession with structure, Shakespeare, all of this. I think it’s still connected. I haven’t escaped him.


Even though your father is largely absent from this album?


Oh yeah, he’s still there. He isn’t in this album. That’s why I have the second album which I’m just implying right now hopefully. No, he…I write way more poetry about my dad than I do, for instance, about my mother because my mother doesn’t present a problem in my life. You know, she’s very loving and stable and all this and I don’t know why I have a hard time writing about her. That’s a good question. My dad…he isn’t in this album because I decided to make this one more about my own personal journey in America and the disconnection from my father. Maybe the fact that my dad isn’t in there is actually a more honest description of myself because he isn’t around, he isn’t here. We chat once in a while, very briefly. There must be something to that. I’m thinking about that actually. He isn’t in this album, that represents me more.


For those familiar with your work, that absence is very distinctly felt when listening to this.


I mean, first of all, I really appreciate that you, anyone who reads…I used to be anxious of course about people reading my work. Every time I hear you say “when I’ve read your work, Ken” I’m get a little like They read my work it’s so nice! There’s a little fire in me that gets a little bit brighter. I’m a pretty solitary person these days, but audience members are the people I feel oddly enough closest to emotionally in some ways, but only in the context, while I’m performing. The moment the poem ends, things change immediately because of the context of the moment.


This is very much putting you on the spot then, but would you be willing to perform a poem?


Oh my god, yea, sure.

I didn’t wake up at dawn…I fucked it up already. See, it’s great, it’s great. Here we go, I’ll make it work. See this is real me. This is real Ken. Real Ken right here. As Ken as it’s going to get…

I never got up at dawn

to wake the valley up with music.

I didn’t play the trumpet,

just gave up the violin

because it was uncomfortable.

If my father told me

he saw a flying castle,

things may have been different.

Instead he did say that life is suffering,

that people are weak,

don’t expect money you’ve lent out to return to you,

study Japanese.

I didn’t believe him. Any of it.

Didn’t realize by ‘study Japanese’

he meant a storm was wrapping itself

around him

he meant no one is going to understand

so you won’t realize it matters

he meant build a plane,

you’re meant to fly;

come find me,

I am a true story.

And in this way I am like you, Pazu.

I too have a half-built prototype sitting in my living room

with pictures of impossible on the drawing board.

He’d be so proud of the way you believe:

りっぱだな, he’d say. りっぱ! (Rippa da na / Rippa!)

We both know what it means to fill in the gaps

made by too much time and sky.

And while by now I can see his point,

that life is painful,

I don’t agree that

just because they don’t make it

to the sky, that people are weak.

Maybe it’s true,

but can’t you see these

giant caverns in the ground

aren’t valleys.

They’re the old mines,

where the barons of the old world

took everything

all the iron and coal and tin

and copper and platinum and gold

so they could fly and live

above the world

in their fancy castles.

I think what you meant,


is that people’s ways are hard to change.

You can’t get them to stop.

Cuz if you did

they’d be forced to admit,

that everything

has already been taken from them,

that the joke’s on them,

and who really wants to feel that?

Wouldn’t it be better to just keep digging?


Wow. Thank you. Is that going to be on the new album?


Maybe. I think I should put it on the new album. It’s very thematic.


Yea, I think you should put it on the new album and give us a release date.


Haha. Oh, sweet. Yea, I like Miyazaki and so that was a Miyazaki poem linked to Castle in the Sky. I think I’m really into bummers these days. I think there’s something really refreshing about it because they’re something real, it’s just something honest about the bummer that feels better almost. We need more tragedies. We need more tragedies in our entertainment. Maybe. Maybe we don’t. Maybe we have enough tragedies in our daily life, but I think tragedy is useful very specifically depending on the moment and the time. And the poem’s not necessarily tragedy, I don’t know why I’m talking about that. Thank you for listening.


That’s an interesting point. I’ve been thinking a lot about why we engage with tragedy. I was at a play recently and walked out miserable and was so grateful for it and since I’ve been puzzling over this idea of why do we go into that situation where we know it’s going to hurt us and we want that so badly? What do we gain from that? Why do we need to share that?


I think about this a lot as an actor at 1am. There are ways we can’t behave in life that are just not allowed because they’re destructive, they’re dangerous, they’re problematic and all of these things. As people, just because we can’t do it doesn’t mean it goes away, right? So like if you’re watching King Lear or Hamlet, I find that there must be…if we are moved by something in a way then we ourselves are capable of doing that and the play, I believe, relieves us of that choice oftentimes, I think, right? Even if it’s connected, I mean there are so many different aspects that the movement of that story could catch you at so many different angles, right? I think that’s what a good tragedy does, it brings everyone in somehow, because it’s Hamlet with all the different relationships or vengeance or personal power. You could take any way into it, right? And if it moves you, you’re given the space to feel that thing. Permission to grieve or permission to be angry or to feel this deep feeling to be in that liminal space as an invisible thing where it’s not…the attention isn’t on you, but you can be with it, you know? I think of it oftentimes like a hand that goes underwater to pick something up, you know? It’s like We don’t know what’s under here, but here it is! look at it! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. And then we can grieve and let it… because we can’t do that all the time, right? So if we’re not letting ourselves feel the way that we’re feeling ninety-nine percent of the time then that one percent or less than one percent when we’re in that theater listening to this piece of music or poetry we can actually connect to that finally where normally we would just be de-stabilized and…I don’t know though, I don’t know.


What have you been reading or listening to lately that’s bringing you to that place?


That’s a great question. Last night and went and saw Wolf Play at the Artist Repertory Theater and that got me pretty close. I haven’t cried in a while. Tender things make me tear up a little bit. I got really close when I watched a movie called The Boy and The Beast, it’s a Mamoru Hosoda movie, it’s an anime. It’s a wonderful, wonderful piece of film, I love it. A lot of the music that I’m listening to these days doesn’t get me there. Things I’m reading don’t necessarily get me there. The one time I really recently ugly cried I was actually hanging out with my dad. We were listening to Miyazaki songs like the songwriter songs where there are singers and all that. That was the time I ugly cried. I cherish that. Otherwise, not so much. I wish I could cry more. I wish I could feel that and go there, but something stops me. I stop myself, essentially that’s what that is, but I don’t understand it.

Haha ah jeez…what am I reading? I’m reading a lot of astrology books. I’m reading books on meditation. I’m reading Anis Mojgani. I’m reading Igor Brezhnev. All my friends’ poems too like Kate Leddy and Sage Lilac. I’ve been digging into that stuff more. I’m too slow of a reader to be keeping up with the world actually. I think that most people are, their brains are deet-deet-deet-deet-deet-deet compared to mine in some ways, so it’s…I read articles off Facebook. Haha get me off this thing! This damn phone. I wish I had a better reading list for you, but I don’t. I don’t, I really don’t. You should read, everyone should read Anis Mojgana and Igor Brezhnev. Kate Leddy’s new book is amazing by the way, that gets me feeling things.


Alright, well we’re coming up on the end of our time. I had one other question that I’ve been thinking about when reading your work. I notice that you will very frequently come around to Dungeons & Dragons on this album.


Yeah, sure.


Do you still play?


Oh, no. I don’t have the time, that’s why. I love D&D, I think it’s so much fun. My favorite character’s name is Mr. NipNap. He’s a chaotic good, black-furred catfolk who’s a rogue and he smokes nip and naps, right? He smokes nip and naps. And he nips. I like the word, it’s just stupid


Are you Mr. NipNap?


Me? Yea! I’m Mr. NipNap. I mean, for me, I don’t know. It’s just a character, but like…yea, yea, D&D…He was a [Dungeon Master] so that’s why it’s…but it’s difficult and it’s complex, complicated as everything is, you know? Do you play D&D?


I do, yeah. I love it. It does take up too much time though.


Oh, it’s so time consuming. If I had that stable job and that kind of thing – which definitely I don’t want that to be my life – but then maybe I’d be doing that. But I like my life as it is honestly. I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m struggling with the things I need to struggle with. I’m enjoying the people and the moment that I can and do and I’m making it work in such a chaotic world as this. I don’t know about chaotic world, but this mmm world. This Mmm world. It’s an MMM WORLD! I’m telling you! I don’t know what word goes there. A lot of words go there, but this place is such a mmm. Oh man, my friend, my friend, my friend. Thank you.


Yea, I’m glad that you are making it work.


Yea, thank you friend. Day by day. Day by day.


Well thank you so much for joining us and doing this interview.


Thank you, Sam. Thank you.


Of course! I really want to encourage everyone to go read your work, read Ken Yoshikawa’s work.


Please, come listen to my album!


Yes, absolutely listen to album. It’s called Quiver. Where can people get a copy?




That’s right. Perfect.


Alright, anything else that you wanted to say or sign off with?


I would say….we are enough. I guess I want to say we are enough. We are enough


I like that. We are enough


We are enough. That’s all I need to say.

+ + +

Header image courtesy of Martin Carri. To view his Artist Feature, go here.

Ken Yoshikawa is a shin-issei (new-wave first-gen) half-Japanese actor and spoken word poet from Portland, OR. He graduated from Reed College with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. He is so grateful for his family and his friends for their love and support. He also has work published in Hapa Mag and floatOn’s Letters from the Void.

To purchase Quiver, go here.

To read Ken’s Poetry Feature, go here.

IG at @yoshakeawaken and @backflip.jupiter



The post This Mmm World with Ken Yoshikawa appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

Poetry Suite by William James Thu, 28 Mar 2019 12:00:52 +0000 Poetry by William James for Caleb Scofield (1978-2018) + + + [it’s a claw embedded]   It’s a claw embedded           in leather, a phantom dragged through oceans           of flame. It’s the sun, a liquid knife, a hellish           infection, a wraith […]

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Poetry by William James

for Caleb Scofield (1978-2018)

+ + +

[it’s a claw embedded]


It’s a claw embedded
          in leather, a phantom
dragged through oceans

          of flame. It’s the sun,
a liquid knife, a hellish
          infection, a wraith

of feathers & glass
          screaming out arrows.
It’s savagery & venom

          swallowed by the swarm.
It’s a rattle of snakes
          & teeth & eagles

rendering light into iron,
          melting their wings
to a shield. It’s specters

          on the horizon, deep
burning holes in the earth.
          It’s hypnotizing swells

& spirit anthems, a heart fed
          with fire & tethered
by the heavy grasp of god.

+ + +


[all the waters are warm as blood]


All the waters are warm as blood
soaked in hope. Crushing atmosphere.

Hollow sky. Heaven is melting
in sunlight & our throats are scattered.

Choirs of giants are chasing shadows
around empty graves. A prayer

whispered for every burning halo,
our hearts filled with heavy light.

+ + +

[endless liquid, violent angels]

endless liquid / violent angels / with nooses

for wings / silver in their marrow / eyes

the color / of blood / and god screams / burning

fire / lonely in his absence / again / such heavy

gravity / the jet blue glow / of death

from the guillotine / to the gun

our mother swarms / the vultures / stretch

like waves / of smoke / under tidal / skies

+ + +

[we’re dust until the light chokes us]

We’re dust
until the light
chokes us,

a choir snarling
in a sick red glow.

We’re vices
thrust into virtue,
flowers pushed up
through dark ash.

We’re ordinary
as atmosphere,

as black fleas
with filthy eyes

their rotting teeth.

We’re smoke
& haze & fog
& waves & stars
of fire

& ancient hordes
& temples burning.

We’re solitary
tiny but tireless.

Our hearts & our scars
replaced by embers
& rain.

+ + +


Dear [        ],

          So here we are. It’s [        ] & I’m alone
again. Dwelling on the things we used
          to [        ] when we were [        ].

I [        ] to talk to the ghosts, but I
          can’t [         ], so instead I [         ].

I think it’s just a sad [         ], a charade
          to [         ] off the darkness. I was afraid
of [         ] then. I’m [         ] now. I [         ]

          myself that I [         ] my flaws,
but it’s a lie. Here are all my [         ],

          gutted & screaming. Don’t [        ] –
it will make you shake. Sure,
          it’s [         ], but that’s the way we grow.

I [         ] the moonlight or the needles.
          If I don’t [         ] a way to face my demons,

          I will [         ]. It’s a memory I can’t [        ].
I won’t [         ] another [         ] but I will
                                      always be your [         ].

                        Your friend,
                        [         ]

+ + +

[another blood moon. another haunted angel. the sun]


another blood moon. / another haunted angel. / the sun
a dead star / with an appetite for meat. / an omen.
a parasite. // & what keeps us warm / when this liquid
oxygen / crushes us with shame? / is it the light
in our eyes / or the music on our lips? // ashen
& fatigued / we write this new history. / claw at & cling
to / the tyranny of our past / with ink still wet on our hands.

+ + +


These poems are deconstructions of previously existing texts. For each poem, I have taken the lyrics to a different record from my music library, rearranged the words in alphabetical order, and restricted myself to writing the poem using only those words. The album from which lyrics were taken in each poem is listed below:

  • [it’s a claw embedded] – Zozobra, “Savage Masters”
  • [all the waters are warm as blood] – Zozobra, “Harmonic Tremors”
  • [endless liquid, violent angels] – Zozobra, “Bird of Prey”
  • [we’re dust until the light chokes us] – Old Man Gloom, “NO”
  • [redacted] – Cave In, “Perfect Pitch Black”
  • [another blood moon. another haunted angel. the sun] – Cave In, “Until Your Heart Stops”

    + + +

Header image courtesy of Constantinos Chaidalis. To view his Artist Feature, go here.

William James is a poet, aging punk, and train enthusiast from Manchester, NH. He is the author of “rebel hearts & restless ghosts” (Timber Mouse Publishing). His work has been published in literary journals, punk zines, and the occasional vinyl LP. You can find him online on Twitter (@thebilljim) or at


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Poetry Suite by Fleta Vincent Mon, 25 Mar 2019 12:00:14 +0000 Poetry by Fleta Vincent + + + To Health This then is for your death and mine. My brother is dead I know it in the way he stares mindlessly into white. Space surrounds his existence. This then, my sister, is for your stone patience, your suffering that never was raised into anything of Abraham’s. […]

The post Poetry Suite by Fleta Vincent appeared first on Nailed Magazine.


Poetry by Fleta Vincent

+ + +

To Health

This then
is for your death
and mine.
My brother
is dead
I know it
in the way he stares
into white.
Space surrounds
his existence.
This then,
my sister,
is for your stone
patience, your suffering
that never was raised
into anything
of Abraham’s.
This then
my love
is for all
the tears
and horror
turned into
surreal black

+ + +

Fatherless Father

My father never spread
his skirt over me, and
my cold skin shivered
to see the shelter
of his wings held
close to his side.

I scavenged

to satisfy the insatiable –
my need
to be a princess,
cherished and adored,
in the kingdom
of my father.

+ + +


To be a damsel was my dream,
so I kept stuffing you, husband,
into armor that never fit right.
In my dreams, you bought
the perfect dwelling, balancing
the budget of our lives, but
numbers and situations
never add up right.

I never get to be
rescued. I open rectangular envelopes
with reluctant hands
dreading the figures I don’t understand,
insured with impossible deductibles
on maintenance of people and appliances
on last legs and prayers, hoping to solve
life’s mysteries and imperfections.

The path is dark, searching for a savior’s
hands while both knees fall
for guidance to lead sons
into manhood and all of its alien aspects,
I fall into ditches where there is no husband
to help pick me up, and when I arise
I apologize to God for what I will
say in spite of the fear of Him
striking me down with lightning,
like Eli’s sons when I tell Him
that the armor don’t fit Him right

+ + +

Intimate Rites

His face is a cold white moon
that looks down in matte
around my revolutions where
I have returned to earth –
ashes awaiting the feel
of disembodied hands,
disjointed rituals.
Submission is my oblation
in exchange for the brevity
of one unholy kiss
on each side of my neck.
I seek to stay the beginning
of skin traveling in recoil
from the reception of grunts
and sighs that creak missionary
style and his temporary
need that will end with the last
spasm issued until he deflates,
pads out like a cat
to wash and erase the smell
of my existence.
His return to is a hibernation
that begins with his granite
face turned toward the cave’s wall
while my timid hand crosses the distance
between us – the delicacy of a butterfly
searching for the sound
of his affection if it awakens,
even when sleep always
overtakes me,
my faithful lover.

+ + +

Header image courtesy of Jay Riggio. To view his artist feature, go here.

Fleta Vincent’s work has been published in Black Magnolias, Catalyst: A Magazine of Heart and Mind, Cottonwood, The Raven’s Perch, and Chantwood Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Ancient Paths Online, The Voices Project, Miller’s Pond, Bloodletters, and Voice of Eve. She is a native of Georgia and has a passion for writing poetry.


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