Drinking Music

guitar eyes

drunk on that

music

scream low

smug eyelashes

take bastards

into heaven

hot lights

red clay

a little piece of

that July highway

a little relief

from god

*

Found Poem: pages 45-72 of Trash by Dorothy Allison.

This poem was first published in my collection Lupercalia.

Photo by Mariana Vusiatytska on Unsplash

Hotel Magic

pelvic bone

demolition

painkiller hotel

and hunger

cold coffee the

shattered lover

intoxicated

vertebrae

tangled

in the

Delta

transformation

night

sky-

dive

THE MAJESTIC HOTEL

BURNED FOR NEARLY

48 HOURS

Big Dipper

spiraling

catastrophe

*

Found poem. Source: The New York Times, April 2014.

This poem was first published on my old blog Chewing Wormwood and then republished in my collection Lupercalia. (I can’t believe I remembered my old blog’s name!)

Photo by Ph B on Unsplash

She Goes Away

Mothers who love their children take them along.—Maxine Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior

When my mother goes away

she visits men in cages;

she has always known

the words:

revolutionary,

dissident,

are synonymous depending

on who locks the gate.

When my mother goes away

she takes me with her

sometimes and we walk

along the causeway,

looking for gates.

*

This poem was first published in my collection Lupercalia.

Photo by Matias Jacobi on Unsplash

Poetry Audiobook

Public Service Announcement: a few of my favorite poems from Lupercalia are now on audio!

This audiobook is available for FREE download on Bandcamp.

There is an option to pay what you want if you’d like to toss a dollar my way but only if you really, really want to. I want you to have my poems more than I want you to pay me for them.

The tracks themselves are decent but they are not digitally mastered or made with any kind of professional recording equipment. I always try to put out the best possible product but right now I can’t afford a microphone or rent a sound booth so don’t judge too hard.

I tried to keep the cat and traffic noises to a minimum.

After I finished recording my poems we had a French drain dug in our back yard and replaced one of the walls in our den so there was too much construction noise to record anything else but there will be audio versions of a few of my short stories coming soon.

LUPERCALIA TRACK LIST

1. Lupercalia

2. How to Build a Nest

3. Wife of Lot

4. Mermaid Songbook: A Boat Alone

5. Mermaid Songbook: The Witch’s Song

6. Mermaid Songbook: Dead Mermaid Singing

7. Mermaid Songbook: Redemption

8. Little Girls

9. Wormwood

10. After the Flood

11. Orpheus

12. Twisted Myth

13. Mirror Angels

14. Home

15. Things Tourists Love

Wander through the nameless city full of rebellion, desire, and viciousness. Jessica Halsey’s Lupercalia guides readers through the ruins of stories as they smash against reality. 

The city is born, slippery and feral, and then it grows, collects and rejects a multitude of denizens that break and reshape the boundaries of mythology. 

These speculative and fantastical poems represent the search for identity and purpose in a world that challenges the endurance of the human spirit. From the fall of Icarus to the loneliness of abandon, these poems represent how every mythological hero and trial are reflections of our daily lives.

HAPPY LISTENING!

Ulysses the Cat

Stretched in the sunlight

crowning Calypso’s shore

the big cat dozed,

small blue crabs drown

in a capsized silver urn, cream

filled and slopping beside him.

Why long for plump

tuna steak and cheesecake

crumbs when Apollo

scratches behind your ears

and no storm clouds

threaten tender olive saplings

with shaking? That

rural, stone hearth

plucked from the heart

of the hill your paws pounded

daily is miles away.

Waves lick gingerly

against the pebbly shore

the lambent royal blue of

Penelope’s summer dress.

He is still listless as

he is lifted up by

roughened driftwood hands

and tossed back into the sea.

Things Tourists Love

1. The city went dark, bruised. First pale green at the edges then purple with spots of red where blood burst from the capillary confine and then darker, the black of abused flesh. Flesh left alive to suffer more.

2. We danced in the dust under bare boughs, between the bony cypress knees.

3. Fear is a kind of god, maybe even the oldest god. Fear can make of us one tasty meal despite all the hard work our parents put into the lies they whispered over our cribs about the terrible state of our bodies to gods who only want to eat the most beautiful of children.

4. Some people think vultures are overindulgent. I think they’re just really, really hungry. Their wings choke the sky, fill the atmosphere with feathers but their bellies are never full. One day they’ll eat the world.

5. A voice from the hollow, bound to fingertips of those who reach through the air and feel for what is hiding there.

6. The sunset is beautiful like a jellyfish is beautiful and it kills everything it touches, slowly, with diaphanous, poisonous rays that float through the sky like arms extending for a cruel embrace.

what runs away in the night

1. good dreams that never want to wake up

2. best friends, unconditional love

3. music only cats can hear

4. rosemary that refuses to stop growing

5. all the stories you want to read

6. all the hours you want back

7. the grey storm streaked with lightning

8. the soft sounds

*

In memory of Bill and later Izzy. Two of my best friend’s cats, gone to join Ghanesh’s army.

This poem first appeared in Lupercalia.