by Jill James


always costs what I have left
after beers and little debbies
at the candy pharmacy
after I’m alone and don’t want anyone
to see me crying into a dunkin doughnuts napkin

checked baggage
non-identified gender
people with their faces caved in
from sorrow and failure
everything is broken
but we're still fixing the antenna

smoking is this kindness
a favor to myself
to save myself
from dying a less predictable way

writing poems on cocktail napkins
writing poems with toilet soap
writing poems on bar receipts is this plea
sent out to some other exceptional hobo
who is also running away from home

Young Love=Dead Duck

In the house in PA
the pretzels and prayers
and non-alcoholic beer
left a stench of burning rubber.
I was a lambchop dummy
on the red leather chiropractor's table
my neck a drugged prisoner
in the breathing neck
holegetting footrubs (grease and white hair),
eating soap, drinking scotch,
masturbating behind the dry cleaning,
massaging the loins of the old crippled nun
under the rotting sweetmeats
of Buddha, Krishna, Christ and the Silent Master,
their licenses and medals vibrating on the wall
then coming crashing down in punishment
cutting up the deaf silence.

I'm making records
of all this
to toast the doctors,
the old men
and me.

Gun control riff

It's so clear now after watching Clive Owen
that guns solve everything:
when Ed says in surprise,
"Look, she's playing jazz chords!"
with his arm around the fortunate son,
meaning she, me,
the chimpanzee in a dress,
that's my cue
to shoot him in the harmonica
and then again in the teeth
like a monkey in the key of F
making that unlovely music
that you could fuck to when you're deaf.

After, I'd go back in time,
somersaulting through the subways
with musical rats
to shoot the piano player
while he's fingering Thelonious Monk,
which he always butchers in the dark
cause he's always so fucking drunk.

When he tells my mom to mouth the words
cause "she has no ear," the poor live-in maid,
BAM I unibomb his Marlboro mouth,
waste him to the soundtrack of a folk polka
silence the bastard to a classic,
and that's the last thing he ever says on the subject
of music, and who should or shouldn't
sing the blues.


Jill James is a writer, fugitive and refugee currently living on sunny Alki Beach, Seattle. She has published in DIVA, Chronogram, Commonties.com, and Letter X. She was elected the Poet Laureate of New Jersey in The Burning Hearts Revolution contest and now spends all her time publicly apoligizing for off-color Jersey jokes she made while growing up in Manhattan. Her latest volume of short stories entitled Death Cheaters is available for a lump sum in unmarked bills.