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Three Poems by Michal 'MJ' Jones


Enough shiftless hotel lobbies –

soon chlorine becomes home.

Pops left a mammoth cave in my bedroom door

upon premature departure, flew his truck

straight through it.

Monsters from deep –

horned, winged, cloaked shadowlings –

crossed the veil, cursed me an omnipotence.

The summer our distance thickened,

everything else was thin. My hollow body,

gilded air, cerulean atmosphere

splayed across vision.

Labyrinthine tongues howled their way up my

bottle mouth, no language of man.

Guttural prayers, sound alone. An unyielding grief.

When Pops rammed the steel chariot through

veins, capillaries, chambers, out the walls of

my heart, leaving a five-point wound, I had

nothing corporeal. Slimmed

into stardust.

Prequel, Saturn’s

Feeling this first sorrow

A second utterance.

Autumn citronella hands on sultry air,

sets off memory tucked away in

folds of my skullscape.

I have elongated epochs since to keep it

Strongboxed, creased its tulle into

near disappearance.

When the daydreamt animal circus

miraged into opaque blocks disintegrates,

decrepit in my imagining,

I am just as

eight-year-old crestfallen.

Just as I always have been.

And here I thought myself grown.

My baby drowses here

then he is over there – the crib empties –

then he is me

When I am

Just as sleeping

beneath a Lansing windowpane

atop hallowed cracked pinewoods

beside the dog’s breath that reminds me

I’m still drowning in Clapton’s river of tears.

I had held this agony at a safe offing.

Just as come back

come back

ricochets into God’s breezeway.

When memory sails home, dog-eared and worn,

All I am is

wet mache

a balloon’s rapid deflate before

my shape’s given.

A body bereft its liquid soul.

Torn sepia guts of the Pilgrim cassette

left unrewound and spilled.

Alone on my bedroom floor.

Eating dust for hunger.

Praying Mantis Is Remarried

If Praying Mantis gathers us in the smoke-filled

restaurant of a hotel lobby;

If the man-bug cradles

his elbows and turns down his eyes;

If the nostrils blossom and

the lips iron tight;

If he is stoic as he wind tunnels the words

to you and brother;

If his pointer keeps tap tap tapping his elbow;

If he says it;

If he says it; if he means it –

flood fast to the floor to hide your visage.

Study the carpet’s paisley, its swimming

coy fish tears,

table’s gum-littered underside,

rather than his spear-lined talon,

outstretched toward your body.

Squint tight with desperation

to teleport. Origami crumble into littered scraps.

Dissolve desire to witness his flesh devoured

by this new mate.

Michal 'MJ' Jones

Michal ‘MJ’ Jones is a poet & parent in Oakland, CA. Their work is featured or forthcoming at Anomaly, Kissing Dynamite, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, & TriQuarterly Review. They are an Assistant Poetry Editor at Foglifter Press, and have received fellowships from the Hurston/Wright Foundation, VONA/Voices, & Kearny Street Workshop. They are currently an MFA graduate fellow at Mills College.

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