Tag Archives: Poetry

Scuttled in Their Stalls by A. H. Jerriod Avant

Scuttled in Their Stalls

Scuttled in Their Stalls
A. H. Jerriod Avant

(for Bob Kaufman)

every throat     a hose rusting inside out
live on the heels of panic     blackberries

luring us into thickets     none would
remember this if it were not for the hole

in his lie she blew     his voice launching
through the car windows     the brain will

always gather before it explains anything
even these rhythmic arms beg genuine bone

connected to     bone     connected to the
dwindling cartilage     sand in an hourglass

it takes years to shatter     a trial against an ego
a stronghold rising     a parched knot

in the neck she strokes     these braided straws
she walks across the floor     with hands of work

much too torn     for     any of this holding
that she does     at every house party she is

this candle we like to light     her flicker     we frame
her wax     we swallow     with our cold mouths

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Apostate by John Keene

Apostate by John KeeneFeatured in Issue 1 of Madcap Review

Miles Dewey Davis, Jr.

Unbroken, yet the pain of lifting
your right arm remains unbearable,
some terrible shit going down in your blood,
these young dudes, trying to be helpful,
can’t understand what you mumbling,
so they nodding, painting traces
of tired melodies that sicken you
to your soul—where the fuck am I?
following whatever it is
they think they hearing
cause you a legend, and you recall
how astonishing and cruel you once were
towards your elders and peers, still are, tearing
out thirds from Bird and Diz’s circle,
cutting lesser trumpeters, scolding Trane,
strafing tracks by Haden and Evans,
disassembling modal systems,
driving that sweet group with Herbie
and Wayne in the early 1960s,
then fusion, dropping out, funkalating, walking in
late, blowing whether you cared or not,
turning your back to the audience
when you felt it, chords
so cold they would send brothers
and Swedish gals into paroxysms
cause they could never get enough
of what you withheld.  Now
you struggle to cop a breath
to shape a clean note.
Death, keep on stepping.

Truth is, they don’t know a goddamn thing
about Alton, Illinois.  They don’t
know what really went down
with the wives and children,
the other women, all those sidemen
whose shadows you carry around
like passkeys inside your harmonies,
how like the tonic in sonata form
what comes around
goes around and payback surely
is a bitch you’re paying
premium right now.
They don’t know what it means
to be a Black dentist’s son,
a scion, trained at Juilliard
and in the dream logic of Harlem,
returning to your daddy’s farm
long past grown, him leaving
you to live or die
in the sweat of your nightmares
in your room above the barn
as you battle the past,
your ghosts and junk,
wrestling like Jacob
the relentless angel that yearns
to slay you, lay you out
so you keep swinging,
burning in those hazy blues
of backrooms and burning spoons,
turning back to every word
and tune that ever sustained you—

Don’t fail—
finding the breath
to wield a grace note:
Death, not yet.

Tonight: amped to decibels to blow
the eardrums clear of hearing,
bassists and keyboardists
whose names you never learned
or cannot remember,
ancestors and mojos and Ju-Ju
protecting you
even though your heart
keeps popping like a snare drum
and your ears register
only a red buzzing,
you mount the stage—
or was that yesterday,
when you prepared to state
with your horn what your lips
refuse to bear away,
how it’s not about being a genius
or merely surviving, how nobody ever
sees what goes down in the head
of a brother striving so hard
to make something beautiful
and impregnable and lasting
out of the margins of this blue life,
how the dues you pay never suffice,
and you play and play and play
thinking that moment will come
but it never does, or it came so often
you realized it only too late,
like now, so you’ll always blame
yourself, assume responsibility.
Passion is a song you sing
on your own terms: the set opens,
and you hold your breath
to map the evening’s destiny: sound.
Death, get ready.

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Man Ray by Cecile Ceuillette Berberat

Man Ray Cecile Ceuillette BerberatFeatured in Issue 1 of Madcap Review

Man Ray for breakfast. Man Ray for lunch. Man Ray to bring the
mimosa and a single flower to your sickbed, on Valentine’s Day,
like your mother used to do in winter when the steps of the
mason temple were filled with snow and your dog was young and
joyful and you could not make it once around the block without
As Lucille Ball as it is Frieda Kahlo, lips blood red
and impaled in the worst of places. Mexican too, like the sixty-
year-old cross-dressers you sat with on Fridays, when the
express 333 was full to Venice Beach and their red hair was
thinning in front and in back. Like the colors on your road trip
to Texas where New Mexico’s skies were a baby blue also, and the
winds at the rest stops were whipping and twirled you, in your
yellow/white jersey, eating pancakes alone. It’s the postcard
your lover made, with her girlfriend before you, in Scotland, as
babies. Her cheeks in black & white. The red rose in the
foreground was a magician’s prop, or was it? Go search and see,
in your bags of evidence and memories that you hate to look at,
just waiting for fire, or instead for the Polaroid of her,
rosebud nipples in your sister’s apartment, summer in Brooklyn
and all that must mean. Or use a fucking telephone where she
lives now, in Oregon, with that other nude model, the one in oil
pastel who posed as a bowler and a baseball player and was
impaled also, much later, same location.


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There Is a Song by Shebana Coelho

There is a Song Shebana CoelhoFeatured in Issue 1 of Madcap Review

A bone of some
thing not human
an animal bone
small dull white
an arc rounding to edges
braised brown
cut with canyons
and rivers
that once ran

There are tiny holes at the edges
pin pricks that lead to a
hidden hollow land
where creatures who see
dark as light live and love
their bony lives

The curve in the middle
like a dancer
bending to song
lifting to spirit

The rough brown edges
blood dried blood lost
dark flesh darkened by

Someone killed
the flesh that
housed the bone

It has scars like me
its naked shape unafraid
to show where it hurts
where fissures cleave in two
separate the flesh once connected

What god once joined
man put asunder

There is a song in the bone
There is a song in the hollow
There is a song in the scar
I sing it

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