poetry via voicemail / missed calls you actually want to hear
fall issue. october 2014. <3

fall issue. october 2014. <3

september? more like october!

hey everybody!

just a quick update: john’s been moving to boston and it’s been pretty hectic

the september issue is almost done, but not quite, and in an effort to save john from stressing themselves the heck out, we’re bumping our release to October

<3! so sorry for the delay!

wow. voicemail poems just broke 20,000 plays on our poems. that’s 20,000 times that someone listened to poetry. if each poem is 2 minutes, that’s 40,000 minutes of poetry. and… hm… i like this a lot… 666.66666666 hours of poetry!!!

we’re shooting for a september issue. submit NOW.

zacpizza asked: Can I submit? :)

of course you can!

check out our submissions page for guidelines!

<3 <3 <3


wow. what a killer month. thank you everyone. <3

wow. what a killer month. thank you everyone. <3

'My Mother Asks How I Was Gay Before Sleeping with a Man'
by Eric Tran

She says I’ve taught you this before: press the skin
of pears to your nose to sense if they’re ripe,
Sound out foreign words, spring-load them on your lips

before flicking them off your tongue. Measure drinks
with your fingers, test gold with your teeth. Do you trust
the strength of ice with the weight of one toe,

the day’s weather without throwing yourself into it,
the spice of a pepper by biting the tip? Son,
the world is not known by its surfaces alone.

When you cut new flowers, split their stems
like a giant vein, teach them to drink water again.
I warned you once not to touch fire red coils,

but you had to reach out your hand, palm the heat,
hold the fire in your fist to learn how to be afraid.


Eric Tran called us from Carrboro, NC.
More about Eric.


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by Lucy K Shaw

The taste of red bull in the morning
on my teeth when I haven’t brushed them
The shape of your back when you
crouch over your computer in the night
The feeling in my chest when you say
you are going to meet someone from tinder at 1pm
The feeling in my chest when you say you are going to meet someone

I have to be leaving in order to feel okay being here, I say
In order for you to feel okay
being with me,
we agree

I will complete this isolation-induced superiority complex
You will remember how it feels to live without me
You will die this summer, you say. That’s okay,
I was just thinking the same thing, about the both of us

it is looming, we notice, a little lower than ever before
it is looming, we notice, but we couldn’t call it unexpected

And so together now in this forest of London
I tell you about the drinking tickets of Barcelona
I tell you about the prostitutes in the park of the Paris rain.
You tell me about the email your mother sent to your ex-girlfriend,
five years ago when you broke up

And when I meet her for the first time later tonight,
wearing the same shoes, mine will be much dirtier,
but we couldn’t call it unexpected

I have been looking for a new pair of shoes ever since
I have been looking, vaguely, for a new pair of shoes
that make any sense

for the both of us.
If you come near me, there is a safari park,
If you kiss me, we are already dead

And I can feel you inside of your head
when I couldn’t before
I can feel you inside of your head
when I couldn’t be further away
from wanting it, anyway

you feel relatively certain
we are not the answer
to each other’s issues

And it’s not even a possibility
but we await nervously anyway
Hopefully, some days
for the blood to confirm
the end

It gives us both some
body else to think about


Lucy K Shaw called us from Brooklyn, NY.
More about Lucy.


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'Dear Hairless Dream'
by Sara Woods

Dear Hairless Dream,

You’ve got the nicest arms I’ve ever felt.
I can feel them without hair now due to
your recent hairlessness & they feel
like waking up too early & sitting on a porch
with coffee & noticing the wind.
They feel like getting to know your
best friend for the first time, those
late nights of sharing what will become
the beginnings of how you will know them
the things you will think back on & be
surprised at how much they have changed.
Hairless, I’ve got a name tag that says
beautiful on it & I’m giving it to you
for now, for wearing so everyone knows
what you look like all opened up.

Can we kiss in a stream? Can we bury our faces deeply into the sand &
let them live there in their kissing?
While we get to know how the two
of us might be able to move through
the world together gently?
I’ve got ten types of rocks I’m always
on the lookout for & you are made of
at least eight of them & you’ve got
me wondering what was so great
about the other two. You’ve got me
adding all the bits of you to my list
faster than I can write!
What does a world look like when we
hold so strongly to the things we have
become as to not know where
we might have room to let the new parts in?

What I’m trying to say is small movements.
What I’m trying to say is the moment
the perfect harmony slides in & puts
chills down yr spine.
What I’m trying to say is I love you
& can feel a breath coming up from
inside me that’s too big to let out
without waking you up where I can see
you from here, sleeping next to your
soft dog there.
Your limbs are so interesting & what if
they were around me? What then?
How would I know the difference between
what the world wants to be & what it already is?

This is the way your hair falls &
this is how I spell your name to make
it have all the sounds I feel in it.
Come live with me on a beach
& let’s find out how two moons
can rise & set in perfect rhythm
to the song we both love.

Be well,


Sara Woods called us from Portland, OR.
More about Sara.


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'Sick and Tired' -After Shihan the Poet
by Tara Jean Bernier

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…

I am sick and tired of slut shaming. Dude. What year is it- 1956? Why if a woman has sex is she a trollop - and if she doesn’t she’s a prude - and if she wants to be friends with someone she obviously is looking to give them head - and if she doesn’t she’s a bitch. And why - is it as a mama of two -all my sexuality is assumed to be latent, and hidden. Can’t we be complex and many layered-can’t we want and desire -quietly, privately, out loud, in public, in bed, on the kitchen table, without it being the end to all our reputations.

I’m sick and tired of politics — and I’m sick and tired of bureaucrats in cities a hundred miles from the Happy Valley telling me how my classroom should run- yes- consistency is important- but sir- you haven’t taught in a classroom in thirty years, could you kindly shut the fuck up. Those who can teach- those who can’t- make laws about teaching.

I’m sick and tired of people telling me boys will boys. That he and I- we will outgrow our ADHD - that I’m poisoning him on meds— You know what, no. Shut the hell up. Live with us for three days, you will understand that this disorder is very real, and while yes, it would be insanely nice to dress him in fig leaves, and let him run like a wild child, climbing trees and spearing pig heads- um, we don’t live in that novel. We live in this very real world- and I would like him to survive it — and not suffer and struggle and be anxious like his mama was for thirty years. Because, while God knows we are both fucking brilliant enough to make that work, it is not easy.

I am sick and tired of friends overdosing- three funerals of people od’ing from heroin have I attended- each one of those souls incarcerated multiple times and yet- there I was twenty pews back at each service, with a clutched up tissue in my hand, my mascara running down my face.

And I’m sick and tired of defending working mothers and saying we all make a choice. I’m sick and tired of my mommyness being judged, because I want to be an artist and a writer and a dreamer and a teacher, and I seek joy to pass down to my own boys.

I’m sick and tired of divorce being seen as a fucking tragedy. You know what’s a tragedy.? Resentment, bitterness, boys seeing their parents fight — to no solution — the silent treatment— that’s a tragedy — a cold bed— that’s a mess. But a divorce is a solution baby — and it is the next place to go — and while it ain’t everyone’s path — it’s mine darlin’ and I’m pretty damn excited — so you know what people — how about some freakin’ congratulations.

And I’m sick and tired of rumors — you know what honey — you don’t know anything — and your sad and lusterless life needs light — so you think talk about mine or someone else’s dark spots will light you up — but baby-

. . This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


Tara Jean Bernier called us from South Deerfield, MA.
More about Tara.


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'Tender is the Knight
or a response to Bukowski’s A Poem For Swingers
by Janea Kelly

he prefers women who haven’t slept with too many men,
and I prefer men who have slept with more women,
with more men than I

who cry when you press a finger against his perineum,
who beg you for permission to come, who are eager to worship
your ankles, your kneecaps, your cunt

because every girl grows up to fear the forty-something virgin,
the twenty-something porn expert who has never had his face ridden,
much less kissed goodnight and he drools against your mouth and whines

“can I come in” after one drink
if you touch his dick, he will splatter all over
your nice dress, and he’s such a nice guy

he wants you to show how tender you are
he mauls your breasts with his too soft hands
and you keep thinking

is this a man, is this a man, Jesus was a carpenter
and his hands were calloused,
his hands were worn leather soles with holes through the middle

and oh, holy, holy
is this why nuns prefer God to men
I want to join a convent, I will be a woman of habit

at night I will lie still, naked,
with my hard nipples to the sky
and let God worship my body

is that blasphemy
or is that Bukowski
or is it bukkake

or is it all the same,
men showering women with their judgement,
hands on their cocks even after the bullets stop

they’re just beatniks

I don’t mind
I was asking for it.

I licked my lips,
and let God pass
I don’t mind

because not all men are brutes,
some are knights
and when you ask them for love,

they’ll tell you
If you want to shoot down the moon
you’ll need a bigger gun.


Janea Kelly called us from Baltimore, MD.
More about Janea.


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'Different-Colored Horse'
by Emily O’Neill

She says we are going to Oz, but it hasn’t
been painted yet; pockets the cones from my macula,

won’t let me see color. Says with a shovel we’ll arrive faster than weather.
Dig. Pull at the ground until it is part of you. End up in the orchard

instead of in town. We are both dogs now and everything is new.
Every corner smells like a secret, a mistake. That ax there is enchanted;

it will chop down the woodsman until he is a wood stove.
We watch it happen. Animals see such magic daily.

The blood pools black in everything
we’ve touched. There, we are burning now. I read it

in the newspaper. She plays stupid. Drinks from the stream
without thinking. Reaches for my hand in the dark.

She wants the Emerald City but can only see sand. The grains float
up and over her. She can’t catch them in her hands, can’t

fix her gaze, does not make lists. The bitch only claims cold.
She forgot her sweater in Kansas. Forgot how long this might take.

Forgot I can smell when she is wrong. She calls it holding her breath
when we pass through the woods. I call it walking. I know better than her.

When we come to the forest’s edge the first true color we find is red.
She hurries and my knees burn. We are so close to salmon, giving

chase to some forgotten yet familiar place. If we weren’t rushing,
we wouldn’t bleed this way. If it was blood she wanted,

why not sever the nerve or flay the skin? Blood is the red we could’ve found
without moving an inch. What a waste.

If I could, I’d lay her leeches in the grass.
Empty-handed, she could fold like a poppy in snow.


Emily O’Neill called us from Medford, MA.
More about Emily.


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'another poem about the whole goddamn universe (because all poems are about the whole goddamn universe if you think about it that way and you should)'
by Sally J. Johnson

the current count of men in space is six
which is still some unbelievable number. still too few
to say we reached anywhere beyond ourselves. still something
to believe in if you’re little enough and that earth-as-marble
perspective lets us know we’re all little enough.

so far two times that many men have made it to the moon.
met that place and said their words and left their flags
and footprints and golf balls and statues and
yes their own shit because if anyone is out there
they need to know about how capable humans are
when it comes to always leaving a mess.

of course we’re now making laws
so that nobody touches our things
all those empty miles away. meanwhile:

here on earth in america in the midwest
a woman with a cinched waist looks up at orion’s belted
sword and thinks of course there is no god. of course

there had to be the violence of starting
out. no deity needed to learn to touch
each other with hurt and tenderness. with
the same hands. so yes the big bang. yes
the smoking gun proof of our arrival. the explosion
that says how we got here. that says yes
heaven is anything we can think of
and still isn’t as vast or perfect as space.
placed here how lucky we are I can’t say.
it’s too cruel or stupid to do so.

so. hope is either the thing with feathers or
combustible fuel and a countdown facing upward.
it is a dying or dead star still showing light
and taking up space in the necklace on the collarbone
of a constellation. original umbilical cord of stars strung together.
the blood trail all milky. way out there. then every one

of us but six still here. so let’s meet on some crushed rock
parking lot to crank our eyelashes skyward. curl them to space.
mascara them the color of open sky around asteroid. afterward
drag our woozy eyes away from our mirrors to see
our reflection past atmosphere. view our profile:
the curve we slice into the crescent.
past that: an act of looking at our baby pictures.
our puny hearts hoping out signals. let’s check
our teeth in the ozone layer. smile at those floating men
up there. ask them if from there they can smell the smoke.


Sally J. Johnson called us from Wilmington, NC.
More about Sally.


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'Dueling Season'
by Christopher Morgan

All the strawberries you grew sparked when we’d bite into them. Must have been the vibes of summer seared inside.

Yesterday you woke me up, put a sword in my hand, and made me fight my brother in a field of sunflowers. I don’t have a brother. But he was furious at me for all the times I’d failed him. He said that I’d forgotten myself. That I no longer thought about my father. That I had traded away my anger to become something new.

Which is true. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I twisted the blade—we have to be brutal with the ones we love.

Now done, I vowed away the sun and went home. I sat in bed with some of your strawberries, watching the sparks as I chewed.


Christopher Morgan called us from Livermore, CA.
More about Christopher.


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