issue 39: earthly

Crossing the Breakwater

- hudson gardner​ (bio)

The islands that lie lowly in the water, the waves lapping against them and
the snow that melts and falls into the sea.
The light at owls head, shoals farther out.
Water between the panes of glass half frozen, the thrumming of the motor
vibrating my seat, the wind against the windows.
The coarseness of the water below the boat.

Coming into land after leaving the land, a body of land
going over a body of water.
Water lapping and breaking, coming back to water, and the hills rising and
receding in the distance, in time, memory, now and before, here and now,
and also not anymore.

Take the force of wind with your body, drink in the wind and the salt in it.
The salt builds up and hazes the windows on the boat, dims them and the
islands look pale and hazy through them.
And the water is rough and cold.
The salt from the water will dry when the waves come over with the wind.
And the salt will spatter your warm skin, land on your face, where it will
leave salt stains to dry so beautifully, and perfectly like tears,
which are the water that flows out from our bodies.


- r.j. flannigan (bio)

long have i searched and far have i found
no fevers or fires or heavens aground
to equal my parcel, inferno of autumn’s
gradient ambers and crimsons and browns


whose green days have passed and, with theirs, my time,
as the home of my youth grew too large in my mind
but no bedroom, or window, or front door stands greater
than the leaves and the trees that i came home to find.


far though i’ve wandered, through autumns i’ve found
no peace more profound than to sit on the ground
and watch as they fall and to wait as they land;
to visit my friends and to spread them around.

Emerald Grass

- r.j. flannigan (bio)

I roll a dewy ball of emerald grass between my fingers
where I crouch on the wet ground before bringing my hand, with its cut
grass smell,
up to shield my slow, morning eyes.

Soon, light will pour over the edge out there
like a pool of brilliant paint spilled far away,
soaking miles of fields and farms between us,
washing the world back to color inch by inch.

I shield my eyes, where the bright day will rest,
because I don't want to miss a moment.

Spare Me Summer

-  r.j. flannigan (bio)


This green leaf is a season of disappointment,
an unlit sparkler in the hands of this petulant child,
a cruel test of patience with no clear deadline.


So much potential, so much joy, so much beauty,
locked away from the world
inside this grotesque, veiny prison.


Callous green abomination.
Majestic hostage taker.
Most unsightly.


Let this unwelcome green guest combust,
and die slowly before us.


Let it burst into flame and detonate in my hand;
An autumn grenade of brilliant yellows and ambers, oranges and reds,
before being hurled to the ground to curl and brown.


Mocking the forgotten greens
relegated to the trees
as it crunches under the feet
of laughing children and happy families,
or body surfs into a storm drain,
or becomes mush in wet pavement.


But until this magnificent day of autumn’s parole,
I must suffer the summer,
and the torments of the living.


Until then, all around me is envy, with green.
Until then, this monochrome misery.
Until then, nothing green will do.

Travel Diary

- r.j. flannigan (bio)

Lord on high, burn my home to the ground.
Detach all attachments,
napalm my bridges,
and open your ears.

Now take me far, far from New Jersey.
Hurl me with violence across any ocean.
Brand my chest with a wanderer’s compass
and give me the direction of 24 years.

Show me my dreams at cruising altitude.
Bring me drunken nights and bar fights in Cork.
Teach me to stand my ground at Manchester City.
Give me stolen red kisses in the Kings Cross Underground.

Hear her broken English love songs in Vienna.
Touch her nude, September hips in Paris.
Live for weeks on red wine in her Florence bed.
Feel her midnight hair in Kyoto.

Hear goodbyes of lovers who don’t share a language
against arcades and oceans and trains and announcements.
Look at me sound out ‘I’ll stay if you ask’.
Know that I’m looking for any excuse.

Drag me by force
back to abandoned reality.
Make this rare beauty
a defining depression.
Take back my carefree and give me melancholy.
Age me with thoughts of where I could be.

Wonder ‘who was that person who lived in those days?’
Wonder ‘how did he do it, and how come not me?’
Wonder if she still remembers my name.
Wonder how to say hers.

end of issue 39. go back to issues page.

the poetry juicebox
an international poetry & art publication
the poetry juicebox