The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: poems (page 1 of 6)

“The Giants,” a poem by Holly Day

the giants sleep as the snow comes down

covering their lumbering bodies in sheets

of frozen white. their warm breath

carves holes in the unbroken

rolling hills, melts snow into  runoff.


the giants sleep as the village children Continue reading

Poetry by John Repp



after Ed Ochester


Because Judy had given me for Christmas

a lumpen pot she’d pinched & baked

right in her kitchen, I tried my first

African Violet just after New Year’s.

The cat nosed its four furry leaves,

so I braced a two-by-six where fan belts

had hung when the place was a gas station. Continue reading

“Gathering in the dark,” a poem by Richard Weaver

She holds in her skull

the quilted memory of a pain

fused with a metal plate.

Some nights she can feel the sky

hard as steel building to a muscled

roar. She is always fourteen.

In her the lightning waits Continue reading

Book Review: Out from Calaboose by Karen Herceg

calaboose. noun. A jail or prison; cell

Karen Herceg spent three decades working on her collection of poetry, Out from Calaboose. The poems reflect that; they feel slow, deliberate, not a single word more than what is necessary.

The individual poems are deftly woven together- this collection in five parts takes you on journey through the seasons, scattered snapshots of thoughts, literal and spiritual travels, and through the concrete highs and lows of Herceg’s life. “Part 1: In the Wake of Frogs,” covers what separates us: walls, continents, desires. Ownership in a relationship is introduced here and remains a driving force throughout her personal work in this collection.

Herceg shows the full range of her talent, at some points the prose stark and pointed, “I am a woman too, / have herded children, objects and desires.” And at others sinister yet lyrical- “Rather you strip me down / and yoke me stark / pare and parse the lace / the sugar that hides the taste / of me / honesty in your need / to own my love”

In part two we move through physical time while Herceg reveals her internal mechanics. Herceg has a talent for describing nature, and connecting her creativity to the physical environment. Summer holds her down- the one summer poem finds heat stagnant, oppressive. Fresh, frigid winds, breathe life into her observations. “I see the puzzle of a sky / between skeletal fingers / and its stark patches / bore into me / like a hopeless romance.”

In The Silence of Snow there is Peace, reflection, and stillness, in the heat of summer there is motionlessness. Heat brings us to concrete reality. Smog covered streets, the smell of blacktop, to the story of Toulon 1971 “In the white glare of an afternoon / I watched you stroll up the dirt road / while, straw hat in hand, I fanned the heavy air,”

Herceg’s thoughts never seem cliched, though the volume covers well-worn tropes: love, the environment, family. She takes tiny moments and magnifies them, spinning entire imagined worlds from small glances, such as in “Shadow Dance” (p. 27), when she describes a couple’s embrace: “you cover me / like a crucifix”

In “Part 3: A thin Season,” Herceg offers snapshots of the everyday and answers what it means to her, what she views as the truth. The ways we think of the world, and don’t think of it. People’s relationship to the world and each other. This is one of the more concrete sections and at times Herceg turns toward a political bent. “Corporate Menu” takes a swipe at the devastation to the planet caused by our industrial farming: “petroleum plastic packaged / for the convenience of our impatient lives.” In “A Thin Season,” Herceg’s elegy for “a young man beheaded for listening to Western pop tunes in his father’s grocery store,” is hauntingly beautiful. Her beautiful words are in harsh contrast to the gritty reality: “Isis goddess of love, the moon, / magic and fertility, / a healing sister of deities / daughter of earth and sky”

Like Part 3, “Part 4: Loving Hands” offers a section of more concretely worded poems- pointedly weighting down the reader into the heart of the collection. In “Maternal Elegy” she is literally bound to her mother. “cutting the cord / where you dragged me /through the mire / of your own sins / a maternal bloodbath.”

Her words, as always, are beautiful, cold, and describe unrelenting life. “the inscription of their names, / the chiseled dates / making impressions on my flesh.”

Though accepting of what is, rarely at peace with it “I awake to the immeasurable sadness
of loss, / not for whatever was / but what was not, / the dream of possibilities and lost connections, / the incurable pain of memories / that never existed.”

And again, we are never free from other people- especially those who made us. “spines straight as rulers / with impressions from loving hands, / my sister and I learned early / about a queen who must be obeyed,” These loving hands leave a permanent mark that holds true across her life. Herceg sums it up best herself as, “the unendurable obligation / of love,”

Even in the final part of the book, where Herceg quotes Carl Sagan “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love,” love is a necessity and a burden. Her works are scattered again and still melancholy. Because even here at the end she doesn’t let go of what could have been. “If I could thrust my hands outward / ripping through embryonic clay / I would sculpt the lives / we did not have”

In Out From Calaboose Herceg explores every prison you could encounter- being bogged down in the material world, bound to another person, your past, the reality of what is while miring yourself in thoughts of what could have been. Herceg’s imagination stretches the mundane, escapes the confines of the physical and beautifully describes ugliness at every turn.

Out from Calaboose is available from Nirala Press.

Poetry by Adam Gunther


Rain comes down hard.
It feels like weeks on end now.

The weather is supposed to break for better,
But it never does.

And yet,
I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

Continue reading

Poetry by Colin Dodds

The Pigeons Complain

Empty niches dirty dishes
Wishes like the trash
the wind sticks to our shins
Every agency of renewal
runs too fast or too late
Streets recite the scars inflicted by unpaid bills
A woman checks parked cars for unlocked doors
kicks open a broken barbecue on a cold sidewalk

Continue reading

Poetry by Jeremy Spears

Revising the Day

Vicky revisits her fondest day
in the center of repose,
the afternoon she wanders through
her luscious and her best.
A lover in flannel trousers
sinks teeth into a peach, reciting
lines of a coward but a courageous
man himself. Lapping foam
dissolves sand beneath her feet
and the girl they shepherd between them
no longer embodies her disgrace
or their defeat.

Continue reading

Poetry by Bruce McRae

Nothing Happened


Quite suddenly, nothing happened.

With all the force in the world, nothing happened.

Assured the condition was only temporary,

we were told to return to our houses,

to leave the lights off and get into our beds.

To tremble at powers far beyond our comprehension.

Continue reading

Poetry by Anna Shapiro




The night I opened my veins

the doctor who stitched me up

asked me if I did it for attention

-Andrea Gibson


I will grow old growing mad in the moonlight.

I will wipe the charcoal from the skies in the early morning

having sat out on the back patio smoking cigarettes all night and drinking

three bottles of wine after everyone went home to their warm beds.

I will smear the slate clean and rub oil pastels with my bare palms

into the empty morning air leaving my hands a runny shade of pink and orange.


I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.

That is my little secret.

Like the three bottles of wine I promised you I wouldnt drink because

the internet called me a heavy drinker and told me that I was

at risk of developing something worse and bigger.

Those are my little secrets.

I swallowed them along with the wine and an ambien that never kicked in

and some klonopin to take the edge off.

I buried them in the backyard next to my brothers dead hedgehog.

I set them aflame with my gas station lighter.

I ripped them into small pieces and scattered them where no one can see them


Two bottles down and the moon bathes me in the very memories Im trying to forget.

Emergency room lights bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of winter.

Bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of summer because it never sees the sun.

Coarse bed sheets soaked in blood and the scent of burning flesh when they cauterized the artery.

I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.


In the early morning before my alarm I smoke a cigarette then another

than a whole pack trying to forget and trying to ride away the craving for another drink.

The smoke surrounds me like early morning fog clouding my vision.

Whoever said you cant drink wine before 7 am is my mortal nemesis.

Whoever thinks that I do it all for attention

the cigarettes and the wine and the bright red lines

is a fucking idiot.

They clearly dont know what it means to be alive.

They dont know the remedies to getting by.

They dont know the blinding shine of the moonlight.


Im more alive in this moonlight than you will ever be. Dont you see my glistening?

Dont you see my scars gleam? Dont you hear my heart ,so small, so weak, beat?

When the sun comes I will wipe the slate clean.

Ill wash the dry blood from my hands and throw away my jeans soaked through with red.

In the light of the sun ill begin to forget.

The moonlight is maddening. Bring sunlight, bring clarity.

I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.

That is my little secret




When I was a little girl my teacher taught me that 2+2= 4

and that a, e, i, o, and u are vowels (and sometimes y)

and my mom taught me a firm handshake (you dont want to shake like an American)

and my dad taught me diagnostic criteria in the DSM

and my sisters taught me the top pop hits of 2003.

And my teacher taught me cursive handwriting

and my mom taught me to say please and thank you

and my dad taught me about the stars

and my sisters taught me that youre not really a grown up

just because you turned 21.


Some things I learned, I cannot trace the origin of.

Who taught me to feel ashamed when I left my barbies naked and headless

opting instead to climb trees and wind through creeks in the mud?

Who taught me to feel bad when

I played dirty on the soccer field,

when I discovered the slide tackle at eight years old?

Who taught me that all that life means is to be pretty? More than being smart or funny or nice or kind or caring?

Who taught me that as a woman, I had to be, not only pretty, but nice and kind and caring?

Why didnt anyone give a fuck about a girls big ideas and creativity?

Why was it always keep your mouth shut and your legs shut even tighter?

Why, as I got older, did seventeen magazine preach never to wear all black,

to always spruce your outfit up with a red shoe, a pop of color?


Who the fuck taught me, taught all of us, that we are not okay to love?

Whose insidious voice got inside our ears and whispered, you are unloveable,

untouchable, unworthy?

Who the fuck taught us that the proper way to hate yourself is through your body?

Get a bad grade on a test? Blame youre thick legs.

Say something mean? Blame your arms fat like tree limbs.

Get into a fight with your best friend? That wouldnt have happened had your stomach been flatter.

Your boyfriend broke up with you? It was your ass, I tell you, your fat fucking, cellulite ridden

ass was the problem.


Who taught us to skip meals to make ourselves lovely?

Why does every girl I know have a story about an eating disorder that she may

or may not have had growing up?

And now that we are all grown up, why cant we eat without apologizing?

Why cant we go a day with weighing ourselves and wondering?

Why does that voice in our heads never let up?

You fat piece of shit you are nothing.


So heres to the all the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are nothing but skin and bones.

And heres to the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are anything but skin and bones.

And heres to the girls who drink every night to quiet the voice inside.

And heres to the girls who slice their skin just trying to get by.

And heres to the girls on juice fasts, and low carb diets, and diet pills.

And heres to the girls who are tired of the world weighing down on them.


Let me be the voice inside your head.

I dont care if you are beautiful or smart or kind or nice or caring or thin or fat or mean or bossy.

I dont care if you like to pay dirty and I dont care whether you keep your legs closed tight.

You are everything ive ever wanted to be, just the way you are.


I wish I could take my own advice but the least I can do is impart it to you.

Fuck that voice in your head.

Fuck it hard like that guy that you met at a party and fucked on ecstasy then never called

back the next morning.

Fuck it and dont ever call it back.

Dont ever invite it back in.




you told me that you liked my poetry so

I got drunk and wrote a thousand poems about

the faces you make when youre trying to make a point

and the sound of the train rolling by at night

and I wrote a devotional ode to cheese fries

and a villanelle about the sunrise

and I wrote about last night at the bar

and the night before

and watching movies in my parents basement

and living alone in my old apartment

and I wrote a sonnet about the time that her and I

hooked up in the back seat of my car

and how I realized girl on girl was better than I had ever expected

and I wrote about the trees and the mountains

even though there are no mountains

and I wrote about the sea and the shore but not the beach

because I hate the beach

and I wrote a pantoum just for you

about how much I hate the feeling of dry sand

and the sound of chalkboards

and I wrote about the other things that make my skin crawl

and I wrote an epic poem about our love which isnt love at all

and I wrote about dead bodies floating in the river

and snow accumulating on my dashboard

and dead leaves crunching under my feet in the winter

and I read you a few of my poems about

spring making its way and

the rain on my fingertips on a warm day and

the ways I want you to hold me

and you told me that you didnt like my poetry so

I got drunk and deleted them all

all ten thousand of them

one by one




every poem i read seems to have a line about


but i cannot picture them in my head because

i dont know much about flowers and

i wouldnt know a chrysanthemum if it

bought me a drink and sang me love poetry

in german cant you hear it sing


I know only dandelions

der Löwenzahn

sie blühen draußen

in the back yard

little yellow heads that pop up


when the spring comes

and fade to soft greys

i make a wish and blow them away

but my wishes never come true

and i know roses

die Rose

blooming on my arm in shades of

red and black and grey

Man muss Tattoos nicht gießen

they thrive on the water in my body

the body is made up of so much water

we are like sacks of seas

das Meer fließt

and i know hibiscus

der Eibisch

floating in wine that my sister let me sip

when i was sixteen and we were

close like we were before

before everything changed

when were were like real Schwestern

es schmeckt suß wie Schokolade

and i know that lavender

der Lavendel

is calming so they put it in soaps and teas

and in the south of france my mom bought

so much lavender soap to take home

and scrub our hands clean with

and theres still some in the powder room

which is just a fancy Badezimmer

that only the guests get to pee in

and i know tulips

die Tulpe

my moms favorite flower

wir pflanzen sie im Frühlig

in the front yard

i saw them everywhere in amsterdam

at the flower market

did you know that the netherlands

suffered something akin to the great depression

hundreds of years ago

when the price of a tulip bulb kept rising

until someone realized they were just flowers

and ive seen a sunflower

die Sonnenblume

towering over me in a garden as i

walked the streets of my moms home town

back in germany

so gross

so schôn

it struck awe in me like a chrysanthemum never could

and i couldnt help but wonder to myself

who no one writes poems about

the price of a tulip bulb or

lavender soaps from the south of France or

hibiscus wine secrets shared between sisters or

tattoos of garden variety roses or

making a wish on a dandelion

I couldnt help but wonder to myself

why no one writes poems about sunflowers

standing tall in the garden and striking awe in all of us




I tied a kite string around the sun to try and capture its wave lengths.

I didnt crave the heat so much as I wanted to catch a tan.

My skin is paler than the moonlight by the middle of winter.

I can trace every vein from wrist to finger.

The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.


When I get my blood drawn at the doctors office

I lay out my arm and place my finger on the spot

This is the vein you want.

This is the vein that is full of life and bounty.

They always cringe at me as if I know too much.


And I do know too much.

When I meet someone new in a sleeveless top all I can see

is their pretty veins.

The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.

You have beautiful veins and lovely bones,

I told my friend that as I ran my fingertips up and down and his arm and

traced his collar bone.

Thats the creepiest thing youve ever said.


I used to thread my veins together with medical needles.

Id knit them into long scarves and try a different spot every time to

prevent the formation of track marks.

They littered my friendsskin like cigarette butts on the ground at the park.

I kept them away but my inner arms would be bruised for days from

poking around.


And I once got an abscess the size of a golf ball from dirty needles or sharing needles.

Or maybe from sharing dirty needles.

In the emergency room they refused to drain it

my little ball of puss and blood.

They gave me an antibiotic and no other instructions other than to


Stop living your dirty lifestyle, much worse things will happen,

you rotten junkie, you.


I still have a scar from when they finally did drain it.

Its the only scar I dont plan to cover up with tattoos.

Because I need to remember, when my veins look so enticing,

when your veins look so enticing,

that it wasnt all good.

I need something to remind me when

the blue green angels are singing, begging me to puncture.


Because the body has memories.

And the body cant remember pain the way it remembers the good.

I need the sun to bronze me and cover every last inch of the blue green

so that I can stop staring and wishing and remembering.

So that I can stop tracing the lines and remembering the good times.

Instead I want to trace the line of the little scar on my arm

and remember when it hurt.

Because if you forget the pain

history is sure to repeat itself.

Anna Shapiro is an English major at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating, she hopes to get her MFA in creative writing. Anna lives at home with her family, frog-in-a-jar, and plastic cat skeleton. When not writing poetry, she can be found implementing her feminist agenda and drinking craft beer on draft.

Three poems by Olivia Lin DeLuca



See the spectral
blaze of a child’s
silhouette seared
against the plaster.
Sound waves of
laughter take shape
into that of a hum
drumming through
my body, no
force pulling me
down the center.  
Her phantom bore
a hole through me.
Pink fractals sprout
throughout my skin.  
The longing has
gone, disintegrated
into the brackish
water that’s
extinguished the
flames of need.  
I no longer
sense the urgency
in my womb.  
She’s just a faint
memory of want,
an etching fading
from erosion.




I ruminate about the past and
future, in a world that subsists
in the present, spinning in a
cyclical existence.  Stories
form creases across the folds
of wan, scarred skin.  My
clothes are torn and faded.  
Dressed like a vagrant, I let
words slip out from my mind,
down through my fingers,
and onto the typewriter.  
Indelible memories flow out
in ink.  Into the night, my
head nods as sleep beckons,
a miasma of cigarette smoke
and ash hangs.  A nicotine halo
wreaths me.  Disgruntled
drones wake carrying off to
work in a sleep medicinal daze.  
I am the stupor filling in the
fractures of their skulls.  Dusk
has long passed and dawn
sneaks its way across stretches
of moonbeams over the
landscape of my psyche.  I
yawn, fanning my face with
scribbled pages in the heat.  
Show me it’s time to lay my
head, my world upon a strained
neck, down on my pillow
to greet the escape of slumber.

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