junkmail oracle

featured poets & artists


dennis mahagin

dennis mahagin is a musician and writer originally from the pacific northwest, currently living in las vegas. his poems appear online in such publications as stirring, slow trains, erosha, 3 a.m., and frigg. he is hard at work on a travelogue, but it will be mostly fiction, since he hardly ever goes anywhere.


It's a go-fast world
and green is the color of my disease--
mossy pebble hidden
in the stowaway leprechaun's
platform shoe crated across

ocean, continent and generation
unbidden-- from that ancient emerald
island of shame and clover,
grudge and habit.

trail-serpent pacing the oblongata
of arrested addiction, her tail hook rattles
like breeze-ripple in tango with the tall grass,
hypodermics, and ground glass
on road shoulders,

angling for the ankles
of horizon-eyed hitchers rushing
off to somewhere, anywhere,

Sure, I've done that
Riverdance sidestep,
caught the flak of dripping fang
that makes you so dreadful sick,

and I can tell you: no driftwood wishbone
stabbing stick at arms length will work
on this bitch it's strictly up close
and personal-- under your thumb
in a fire nozzle grip,

until she opens wide, blasting poison
like syphilis piss on a slush bank.

On St. Patricks Day
the line for the Starbucks
on Seventh and Stewart stretches
all the way around the block

to the Greyhound depot; they make up
their lattes like mint juleps
in commemoration,

and harried secretaries clutch steamy-green
to-go cups to their crimped breasts

with precocious street whores tossing back
styrofoam espresso shots,

wiping tight little mouths
with long-sleeve slurp-flourish-- yes, they are

all in double-time lockstep with
Sweet Sister Java there, and is it
just me

who feels the shivery
of her second skin
stepmom twins

and Ephedra

is that you?

Billowing about early-spring lace skirts
like subway-grate gust rising
straight for Norma Jean's
sweet panting crotch, yes I can

taste their tongues-- forked, green, serpentine
and cryogenic-- hitching my breath in cardiac flutter,
lime wedge scallops of dry ice on the lungs...

They Want
nothing less than blood
in Happy Hour mason jars.

They Want
my still-beating heart, drawn and quartered
like fat lines on a mirror-top coffee table
when the richters start.

And just what will they make of me,
on my one-man parade
wagon down on Pike
by the seawall?

As I suck at the slit
on the clamped-down lid
of the house blend cup,

like a hyphenated cottonmouth bite,

then start spitting mouthful-streams
of the stuff onto curb swales
like a Mexican Fire Breather Boy...

Will they toss me a bone then
and clear a path?--

Letting me walk on
like a Bedouin up Queen Anne Hill--
the bile in the cup slowly
going cold.



Watching her lips move
across my desk
in the soporific

I'm going under...

A diver on a tether,
sinking to new depths

bleeding bubbles from my face mask
in a miasma of Muzak shot through
with decompression
whistling sounds--

train stations
and teapots in heat,

snapping straight
the neck of a nod...

She wants a critique of her work
or is it a letter of recommendation-- something

impromptu but heartfelt scrawled on my
letterhead getting her off
the hook for
study hall?

I'm flying blind in a fugue here,

too much small talk
and pop-ups peppering my inbox
like delmonte corn niblets in yesterday's
turd roll clogging up the works...

and surveys,

rain checks and thumbnails
of missing children on milk cartons--

They wish me
to tithe,

to hold forth,

they take my two cents worth
gladly on the barrel
with firm monthly commitment

like feeding Botswana bloat-bellies
with postage change.

I want to tell her:

stop crossing your legs in that
fashion little girl you want to be a poet,
hook a hidden mike to your tight lace
panty strap,

shove a pinhole a spy-cam in that
pearl-and-opal amulet around
your pretty neck

and go to work in a Seven Eleven...

Better yet
I'm awake now
and getting an idea:

Please help me
clear the glossy detritus
from this old desk

with the sweet sudden clarity of long legs
spread wide and pinwheeling for purchase--

glistening mound of furious,
fresh-snowpile angels

and together
we'll stave off death
for another hour or so.



Red dusk choked with ash
and sulfur smoke

from the latest
freak brushfire

and he sits
on the veranda after a grand dinner

chewing Copenhagen
and watching his own pulse lick
the inside of his wrist like an eyelid tic

leeward of the satellite dish shadow
tossed across the purple mist
of the horseshoe-shaped
bug zapper...

He has a look on his face
like the Backyard Barbecue Host
waiting for a batch of briquettes
to arrive by parcel post

and when the cockroaches start
square dancing on his varnished
two-by-four slats he snorts and
scatters them

for a second laying down a strafing pattern
of snot, tobacco juice and merlot...

It is only when they come back again
and again with humping thorax and happy
go-lucky antennae-twitch hauling
friends in tow

that the juice starts dripping down
his dropped jaw, chilled

poleaxed and awestruck
by the beautiful
guileless creatures

tenderly licking
and sucking at the dark
splotches of his own rabid spit...

He starts to stomp one but can't
go through with it and right about then

the crickets
who'd been holding their breath
start in again with their power line
cluster hum of applause-- wavelength

of the meek
rattling stadium box seats,

hoarsely hissing for their birthright
after all.

When he stumbles back into the house
a little while later
he is unrecognizable
to his wife

who recoils at first then
asks him

if everything
is going to be alright.


home page


copyright deep cleveland llc, all rights reserved
comments: deepcleveland@hotmail.com