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Jamie Townsend :: Six poems


the figure of speech loses its distance

in dreams whole seasons become truncated

ill-tempered waking to the assurance of Prince's KISS

fading I get up to walk through the shimmering air

as the schizophrenic screen makes a tenuous leap to fairytale

in the painting of the coronation the stocking feet are jeweled

a fuck you to Paul Simon's most recognizable image


It seems like the skeleton key to Arthur Russell's oeuvre

singing to almost perfect strangers


'exploring the evolution of

masculinity through fashion' appears

as a suggested like on my feed

I dream about seeing the Venice

of your dreams as our day in day out

slowly clogs with retroactive culture

on playing Virginia Woolf in

THE HOURS Nicole Kidman

remarked I did enjoy being


towards the end of the album

a sudden transition

between the rambling skit & fan

favorite cut provides suitable

occlusion for a series of precious lyrics


a detailed list of silk robes

regular freesia

sheer lace underwire

troubleshooting the mechanics 

of LET’S GET IT ON in zero G

has been the main concern

of the scientific community lately

I've been worried about the future 


we imagine that

all currency is imaginary

with complete devotion to the change

waiting at the downtown Starbucks

far too long, exhausted

shell of reggaeton splayed

on the operating table of a spacecraft

the corner Duane Reade gleams

professionally desolate like rock salt

scattered late February, clientele outside

snaking drunk around

around the jagged edge of city hall

to find some undesired

time apart mediated by weather

the shape of

black leggings filled in

less by body than thought


he seemed to live on air & light

reading THE THORN

blooms in the most sublime

vocal fry

until it dislocates words

emphatic descending

dagger of high school

binder the immense darkness

inside your mouth pen

15 Club inverted

pentagram graffiti

six feet

deep & lifting tiny

hands through the black out

window fallen

sidebar portal

click to LUCIFER rainbow

embroidered satin jacket

wet hair look

all the meat lost

to Anger

demon mirror

and imagining the rouche

if I could

fuck your clothes

I would be constantly

following a god

through a rainy city

entirely crushing undertow


A specialty liquor store that doesn’t have origin

you know like the kind that births monarchs

a line make me a servant threading filigree

across the cut the song is

a fist thrown like a ghost for real

the unclenched hand

disintegrating in its melisma

in the film the aging pop star councils

the abused teenage aesthete

& her urban drama explodes beyond

the falsely claimed power of daddies

the block is erased by new money

as a single note still clings

to its former life in weak evanescence

the exhausted

heroism of patience

get lifted up on Saturday nights the local

harmony relying more on difference than

what feels strangely familiar


Look for me beneath the soles of your feet, brah, brah as if we were forced to chose the dust to be included in life, hefting a weight, a marginal list of favorites from every aspect of the day to day, we told ourselves that pervasive gentle humor had draped itself over our nascent fear, settled into it, cheek to cheek, huddled together in a booth, in a flash we saw this phantom manifest as masculine femme, pale yet ample beneath, the shape recollecting an endless continuum of Dutch Masters, pink and brown sliced down the middle, one cloud merging with another folded neatly inside the horizon, the color of flesh and blood somehow misplaced, real love, your body remains, a temple to the lord, an overblond Bond villain, something thoughtlessly commonplace, mistaken for a featureless surface where the presence of any detail might seem grotesque, unearthly, nervously drawing the cloth away, in the small talk about Courbet and the angels, an image given weight with brief pause, an effect of layering imbuing what was once unseen metaphysical force, syncretic, call to worship, a blunt object ringing against our skulls, cartoon hearts leaping out of our chests, indelicate light, coercion of feeling, everything we’re up against collapsing into anxious boredom, on the bed reaching for a genderless Beach Boys song, hidden like a comic or porn in a hymnal, foaming pink mold woven through trees, landscapes depicted in misshapen cartoon bubbles, in the hope that inspiration would eventually reveal itself within a rudimentary language of blood, disappearing before the square halo of a phone screen, piles of soggy discarded fliers by the entryway, an urgency restrained by ugly formal limitations, questions tugging at the ragged edge of breath, what’s that song?, who’s the artist?, where’s it coming from?, and then the requisite, robotic fucking, resolve pushed beneath a weightless discharge, slab of plastic, powder thick as MAC, with all that feeling

Jamie Townsend is a queer poet, publisher, and editor living in Oakland, California. They are half-responsible for Elderly, a publishing experiment and persistent hub of ebullience and disgust. They are the author of several chapbooks and ephemera from Portable Press@YoYo Labs, Little Red Leaves Textile Editions, and Ixnay Press, as well as a forthcoming chap titled Pyramid Song (above/ground, 2018). Their first the full-length collection, Shade (Elis Press), was released in 2015. An essay on the history of the New Narrative magazine Soup was published in The Bigness of Things: New Narrative and Visual Culture (Wolfman Books, 2017) They are currently editing a forthcoming volume of Steve Abbott's writings (Nightboat, 2019).

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Up to six poems in a single .doc file with author biography and photo to All rights revert to the author/s upon publication.

issue twenty-seven :: January/February 2022

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about :: where is the river

where is the river :: a poetry experiment is a bi-monthly poetry journal open to a variety of aesthetics, forms and experiences, with a preference towards showcasing work by emerging writers. There is no single path, nor any single way. Founded in September 2017. Edited by Kiefer JD Logan.