Jordan James is currently a graduate instructor at USM working on his PhD in Creative Writing. He specializes in Larry Brown-esque Southern fiction, but writes poetry to keep sharp. He believes language—the sound of it, the way it feels in your mouth—is the ingredient in any worthwhile writing.
Bite down on the Manchineel,
Looking for something to
Grind me down.
Sap seeps between my teeth,
I’d let you suck it out, scoop the death
Out from under my tongue, if not
For the song I hear in my sleep:
“To poison nothing but me /
To poison nothing but me /
All the good Lord ever wanted was /
To poison nothing but me.”
Can you take a little more?
Are you still wet? Dozy
From the chlorine fumes
That simmer off your thighs?
I can see movement reflected in
Your pupil, scenes of torture tickling
The edges of your iris.
Drunk on torn toenails and electroshock.
Is that what you want?
Don’t think I can’t take it
There. Wrap my hand around your
Neck and squeeze until you rattle with life.
My mother said, “Like the terrorists in
Afghanistan?” when I told her your name.
Are they in Afghanistan? Probably,
Right? You are here. I know
This. Your new owner—I call her Mommy
In relation to you, but Baby Girl when
We’re alone—runs back and forth in our
Tiny one-bedroom. She runs and I look at
The things I own: television and leather
Chair, ball cap and rug. I think of
The things we own, she and I: you
And your sister, your sister who was
Born a boy.
Crooked little me—Golden One—
I feel your love running down my spine.
Dream conductor, bearing teeth:
I’ll find you there
In hollowed out tree trunks,
It nudges me
And I see blue lightning
Fire touch the ground.
From their feet I hear nothing:
Echoes, decaying sound.
Out of your mouth springs thunder.
Out of your mouth springs June.
Your words—your name—
Are olives. Perfumed and
Pitted, one against the other.
I can’t hold them all alone.
Your words glow around you—
like fireflies, I jar them up,
Brand new like we said once
They would be.
Elegy for Bunk
“Yearning feels better than love,”
Says a boy growing out of his childish skin.
Which is not to say I have
Seen much of all the waters
And the mountains and desert
Grasslands speckled with black cowboys.
Cowboys like Bunk Haynes, who lived
For fifty-nine years and led
More steer over land I know
I’ll never see before I go his way.
“Outstanding Colored Cowboy,”
Reads the commemorating stone,
Spelled out in non-descript letters,
Another rider who knew more than me.
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
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