Issue 31: Joshua Jones

Red Door

  for Sean Bonney


  shadows filled the streets. & up above

How flesh in restless sleep restrained from knowing

Or all too buoyant stretched upon the impasse

Rocks in medias res on wine-dark seas

Named for privacy & its upholding

Against the fire without that threatens rage

More palpably in daylight sprung from murk

Should it better chance to see, yet fearful

Of iris charred by ghosts left unallayed






In skin under sun batons

Fall like night across your face.


It’s spicy on the streets this evening

Pulled into a car they say who


Are you, dissembled into flesh unmade

By siren song & bullet pocks


Upon the shell of what is named

When cops speak — the sound


Of glass irrupting, its laughter track

Of burning in reverse, & choppers shredding


Night to sheets that settle on the lake

& melt as dawn interpellates the shadows,


Now fucking answer.






eradicate me says the dream

of moral rectitude

                                      on street feast

                                  & euphemized flesh, smoke

thickening the mission in a fog

of unattributed


                                                               i find my voice you

                                                               not washed

                                             into the guttered sea, we are that

cackle splashing back, perturbed

an image of collapse upon

perpetually embroaching shore, the fear retracts

like glass thru sand & soft

                                     focus bronze

alighting from the ocean & the sun

our haptic chalkline finger grasp

at oar






To hear your speeches on another shore

I see myself as what’s yet unbecome.


Water is scary. The ocean in complete disdain

For agency extends. Mélange


Of bodies, how its rising corpse

Gets born again on surface, stands then sinks


Back down in debt. You enter into them

Like the world, without consent, abrupt


Against the other enthorned fingers

Stealing continuity from the store


To carve on wood the work of living

Sunlight cannot read, its mouth in forest


Forming from a cob heart ghosts

To smear in facets of refuse.






this landlord’s hands


this man he wants to become


in the sink, salt & blood, in the eyes


of a low world scattered off


in glass & light & locked doors


they are eating under the surface his legs


in the swamp his language unobstructed


gruel his story softens like rain


across the streets into something contained


like dog vomit, sideway flash of fox & fetid pity, i warm


to him thru sleep in the destitution of better judgment,


the violence of a fist around your own pathetic throat






Thru porch ribs life

Painted on the living

Scene choked out to face


Staring back from pillow

No vacancy, all the harm

You have done when no


One is looking back they

Did it all they did nothing

Left when who is not looking


Back. No handle

No way all the dogs of the world

Tails tucked to soil coughed


Sud of being right of being

Wrong in tacked mirror slack

Lung a perforated sheet


A broken heart no insipid

Skin tucked into keyboard

Flocked the people lost no heart


Burn across the scorched rib

Cage to do not living to do not

Hurt another day, & take the body


Out into the clouds & see it weather

Slit of wrinkle slit of river slit of

Never going back there from again






Where the shoreline meets the forest meets the rent

Burden, about sleep the landlords are getting unruly

At the mouth here I’ll place this mask for you gently


Your body like a land mass leaving the world behind

For whatever that ocean & all its flames might want to say

To you as gulping down the violence you chose. Our


Salary wrapped in plastic around your death, ventilated

In the brutal morning of grass climbing its slight persistent grasp

Around the pillar once they called a spine, an economy


Of coughs trickling down, like piss, like a lover dying again

In your tired arms, that you sent into the murky checks & balances

Of guttural sky, that open bruise, that premonition of a better ghost


To come & haunt you. This is how it looks to watch your family

Die, that they had no choice, that your living tongue moves

In them, as they tend the lawn & reluctant lungs abate


The noise of what it felt like just to be you. We pin that badge

Of your silken face in freezer, slick upon thaw, a stray dog

Chasing down the warmth at the end of fear, at the end


Of the sentence curdling down your chin, the pool of flames

At your feet polished our back into fresher air, the flicked skin

Skimming like blustered cloud on blue from night collapsed.






An angel is the monster

On horizon tips a warning

That your spirit like a dizzy grounded bird


Barely makes, a cage on porch

On mouth they’ve spelled initials

Spelling doom, & on the water


Carcass light, the sound of every color

Turned to screaming turned to home

As hope held a monster raised that


Angel never was & never will be

Sheds its gender into air & hopeful

Foam against the crumpling city walls, it pleads


Against a pane of fading glass & green

Wrapped like film around its body wanting

But to breathe a single glimmer spun


From what you said a sun could plead

To mean from in its cage, a single letter

Dropped into the stream that filters out


& soil eats, that grass could with a single prayer

Denounce, & put to dreaming, put that language

Back to better crux, from which


A body barely & composed emerges, holds the gaze

Of scary welcome light from its new eyes

& answers thickly bifurcated want






Your face in noise that hope had slack

& wanting to put shape to wings & bromide

Ever ripples, leash thru dark


& looming green the wooden gate

To mark by, every limit of bone

A body says it will & can’t abide. Yes


Get fucked the angels in the end

May not desert you, but their tender

Comes not in form of care but meaning


Left to slither, & when sand

Down every crevice falls the sun won’t love you, won’t

Be able in its language yet to see


How you in this contingent blink

Had suffered, held the promise of a name

You couldn’t digest, & in it unaffinity


Cried wolf. The forest thus & only lets you enter, calligraphic

Mulch your name had tried to shine & how

This stomach dusk-lit swallows all you uttered






The house has light in spine & sheds

Begrudging, money thru the sky

To open throat. It eats like angels


Paid on cusp, they do not care

Get in they say we’re going for

A wellness drive, no weak ones welcome


Here, leave to remain

On melting porch. They have no skin, the only face

Is ocean melting, as the sun


Refutes real distance. It is a choice

Of what you want, to remain distinct

Or become the life within. The life within


Is where light dies in shrugged skin

& upholstery. A bookcase like a forest

Looms like angels over dinner. The angels


Say you’d better finish quick or you will starve.

Your body does not need the food it just thinks

That it wants it. Your body melts like light on sea


& says I thank you angels. The angels pick up

What is left & laugh at why they bothered. 






There is a purity in fire of nazi flesh & cop skin

Crackling. It is the sound that angels make

On their best behavior. On the white face


Of your precinct I see myself distorted. I want

It to say fuck the police but the taser

Still trembles. To take the police out of yourself


Stomp the syntax down you breathe by, burn

On the pristine steps of intuition your fucking home

& stand in the flames, like statuary & padlocks


Come undone, the language of a civic hall

Latched into your bones unlearns its words

In fiery song & open mouth with poisoned root


Burning like a mirror fell to glass & charred robe

You hid behind your right to be alive, say no

More, my face is taken, I see it smarting


In the lash of real air, as structures wait

To become smoke & future ghosts, whose fluid light

Might cut into the night fuck the police.

Joshua Jones is the author of Diametric Fist Tender (Pilot Press, 2020), a poem from which was featured in the anthology 100 Queer Poets (Vintage, 2022). Their collection A Haunting Without Allegory is forthcoming from Broken Sleep Books in 2024. Recent poetry can be found at Datableed.

Copyright © 2023 by Joshua Jones, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author