Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor of Luna Luna Mag and the micropress Patasola Press. She co-edits Diorama Journal. Her work can be seen in Best American Poetry, PANK Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Nervous Breakdown and others. She is the author of the chapbooks Andalucia and Triste. Her first full-length, APOCRYPHAL, will be released by Noctuary Press, run from University of Buffalo. Lisa Marie teaches poetics and was named one of the top contemporary poets in New York by NY Daily News and Relapse Magazine. She is a graduate of The New School’s MFA program for creative writing. She is also a freelance writer and citizen journalist.
the letter says,
show me your most honest self
but I don’t want to be a body today,
it doesn’t feel right,
like something stuck up inside me
that wasn’t meant to go inside,
a whole life, fermented,
green as grass pale as flesh
a darkening, the ankle tied to the chair,
the wrists tied too knotted
for abandon. this dimension of you
so horrible, as leopards lounging
upon a leopard print chaise, I desire it. I put the photograph in a glass box
beneath our summer cellar and look at it,
I am afraid of photographs.
I am ashamed they will show where I really came from.
From particles of light, a slow holding of breath as if I
were filling with dirt & I am, because where I come
from is a place outside and it is not natural.
I use my body to tell stories, though not the ones of being
left or rolling in sand near the sea.
Javi knows I am scared to murder
that old me, and the bodies living inside of it, scared even
without pistols, even if I kill it organically, maybe by only
looking at it, maybe by saying you cannot have me. this is what
you do with pain.
you stand naked with the sun behind you. every silhouette
says death. every breast says death.
every time I show my breasts I die.
when the robe falls down I let it and then prop it over the
armchair and say, this is for everyone who hurt me. I get paid for
the naked, but I feel ashamed. I let him have me so I can
When we are done I wear the curtains and the light likes
me like a child. Javi says it is not in our nudity, but in the
covering, that we find sex. It makes no difference
Javi is enchanted by the room’s secrets, a gallery where
photographs have reduced people to their place upon
furniture & he captures me in an afternoon darkness
so saturated I become a pillar of ivory and smoke.
you are a castle of a woman he says, opulent. and this makes me real, o really weeping real
a slowburning sigaretta down my throat.
I am in 1967 Balenciaga.
because in me there is an inauthenticity hoping
for spectator [to be seen is to be real] & the speckled light of dusk is slicing the excess of me. what is left is
the venom-bodied apparition you will hard and hardly fuck. I am not a skinny girl. I will destroy you.
If I knew why we kill I would tell you. If I knew why the sun moved here the way it does [a blinking eye] I would tell you. There is no splendid reason
I live here now. I am damaged
I live in a small mustard room
the bed is shaped as heart, a reminder
to stay alive.
I live on the first floor, without the balcony,
so I can gaze up at the palm trees from their roots,
as if I am rooted.
As if I am rooted
but I am not, not I.
Not here. Unhinged as a doorway
for a faceless crowd.
I like to live with animals.
Men, I mean,
who drills holes for their body parts.
Let me be clear: I mean glorious holes,
for beasts of glory. Sometimes I wide open my mouth
I get scared at the last moment
I leave a pair of pink panties for the glory instead
I don’t know why I do it.
Soft light warm sand beach chatter
like clinking glasses
the sea is a conversation a girl should have.
They beasts they keep this place in business
as a beast does when hungry.
I do my part.
In this issue, I asked each poet what makes them uncomfortable. If I could only ask one question for my entire life, that would be it. Exceptional writing comes through revelation, and that insight only results from duress. What would humans learn through complacency? We learn most about ourselves, and our world, when we want to change it.
Anthony, Karolina, & Aaron use language so eerily that their ghosts follow me around no matter where I go, pushing me to find the different parts of myself.
Joanna C. Valente
In this issue:
”I always thought it was about / the music but it wasn’t.”
”It whispers, but only / to its own emptiness. / Filled with ghosts, but unburdened.”
”When I said ghosts are assholes I meant dogs are smelling at the ghosts of assholes.”
Keegan Lester is the co-founder and poetry editor at Souvenir: A Journal. He lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, but has managed to live in four states in the last four years. Inspired by Victoria Legrand one night on the way home from a Halloween Party in Los Angeles and Pat White’s subsequent return to the NFL—-Keegan came out of his post MFA writing retirement late last October. It’s rumored he doesn’t mind airports, the shapes of clouds and what clouds shape. His poetry is forthcoming or already published in: The Barn Owl Review, Sixth Finch, ILK Journal, Moon City Review, Death Hums, Red-Headed Step Child and Mixed Fruit, among others.
the topography of this place
The ocean stopped being cruel
so the sailors went home.
No one jumped from cliffs anymore.
People stopped painting and photographing the ocean
because the sentiment felt too close to a Hallmark card.
Everyone had treasure because
it was easy to find,
thus the stock market crashed.
Then the housing bubble burst
mostly not due to the ocean,
though one could speculate pirates
were going out of business and defaulting on loans.
When I say speculate, I mean I was reading
the small words that crawl at the bottom
of the newscast, but I was only half paying attention
because Erin Burnett was speaking
and she’s the most real part of this poem.
I’m speaking in metaphor of course.
The end of the world is coming
seagulls whispered to the fish
they could not eat due to their fear
of the ocean’s newfound kindness.
One of my professors spoke today.
She hates personification, treasure and linear meaning.
She hates poems not written by dead people.
She hates the ocean’s newfound kindness,
she wrote it on my poem.
Not everything can be ghosts and pirates, she says.
But that’s why I live here.
My rhododendron’s never crumpled in the summer.
the topography of distance
Intellectuals kill their bodies
because what else
can they kill
with just their hands?
I mean, have you ever seen
the hands of an intellectual?
This was part of a real phone conversation
I had last night, beginning:
“Edith, for twenty-years I misheard
the Fats-Domino lyric
my tears fell like rain
as my hillbilly name”.
On the phone
our words are like fortune cookie words:
Small blue font;
heavy in the “abstract”
and “unbelievable” departments
and yet: necessary for reasons
that will one day reveal themselves to you.
I only believe the fortunes
if the number thirteen
is tattooed to the face
of whatever is telling me the fortune,
because how could you not?
Tattoos last forever.
There is a kind of credibility
to forever. Ask Emily D
about not stopping for death.
Last night you said:
I once had two love birds.
I think my mother killed one accidently.
and I thought only of
the constellation of freckles
spanning your shoulder blades.
The manifest destiny of those freckles
following the continental maps
of tendons and ligaments to the muscle
wrapping your spine.
Each word has a color:
Petricher, glass and eucalyptus
are the blue
before the sky turns
pink some summer mornings.
It’s science, really. Fortune
is the last color you see
in the bath of your own
as they burn out
one by one like little stars
behind your eyelids.
I’ve heard it resembles
popcorn over a campfire.
I’ve heard that all of these things
only look small
because of their distance
relative to your imagination at night.
the topography of unicorn theory
for john cotton
Beauty finds such crush
A variation on a field
of dandilions, or red streaks
or a satellite
trailing sky. It’s the ones
I don’t sleep with
that I tend to remember, John says,
and if I catch my unicorn,
it may become people.
And what then?
And what then?
Listen to Keegan read his poems: