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!

…so for your arrogance

I am broken at last…

—HD “Eurydice”

I fell

(a bird’s cry)

stumbled over

the weight of the sky,

(twisted in the air)

all of mortality

smothering us

(joined the liturgy of curses

eaten by the dead).

The cry I plucked

from your lips,

your frown;

(a bird’s cry)

I wanted you that badly

(twisted in the air).

I tripped

over your slow step,

the kudzu vine across the path

or something else

equally absurd

(joined the liturgy of curses

eaten by the dead).

I had to stop myself

from looking sooner,

pushed the wanting down

until it was nothing

but a whisper. Then

the bird screamed.

Photo Credit: Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus, John William Waterhouse 1900

The fake ones eat

the bones and gristle of cats

to see the future. They drink

the blood of rattlesnakes

and wear sharks’ teeth in their

long, flowing hair.

The real ones hide in caves,

hang their dead

in cages, suck

the fallen vertebra

(when the backbone falls

like a clump of grapes)

and the cracked bodies of sun

dried tomatoes when gobs

of red blot their mouths,

where their teeth

have knocked upon the stone

floor. The woman’s eye

is an inkwell; pecked pious

and unfathomable.

She goes naked in her

sagging skin.

Listen to the recording here (as Jessica Otto).

Stolen fairy tale girls never get to take the easy way.

—SJ Tucker Girl Into Devil (I Belong to Me)

When you say princess you mean little girl lost in the darkness, rotting lace and wind whistling through bleach blonde bones. Only decay loves a dead girl walking. But when you see this princess tearing through the brambles like she’s on fire don’t even think about getting in her way. She’s got better things to do than talk to you, like reclaim her mother’s severed hands from the evil king next door. Or steal lightning from a storm to give to a witch who will make her the sword she needs to kill the other evil king next door. Or kill her father, who is the other, other evil king, for trying to marry her three hours after giving her mother to the flames because she looks just like her mother and, you know, bloodlines need preservation. If you see her meeting her sisters for a party (after a quick detour involving pomegranates and 6 months of winter) where they grind their 6-inch stilettos down to the floor and throw their hearts at whoever they want, you’d be stupid not to praise her beauty and bravery. She has already learned that princes don’t just pop up out of the woods promising kingdoms and kisses without getting a promise back and if you’re not selling what she wants be careful or you might find yourself in a world where you’re another evil king on her hit list and she’s gunning for her happily ever after.