Mixed Strains

Mixed Strains

“It’s cold in here,” she says.
“I live alone,” says he.

“And your walls, they are so bare,” she says.
“They’re not what I’m looking at,” says he.

“Am I your first guest?” she says.
“You are my first choice,” says he.

“You don’t mean you…” she says.
“Of course, I’d never…” says he.

“May I have a drink?” she says.
“I’ll make it double,” says he.

“I don’t want to give you the wrong idea,” she says.
“How could you give me what I already have?” says he.

“Let’s skip the liquor and go to coffee,” she says.
“Shall we go all night?” says he.

“I have to work,” she says.
“I’m being a jerk,” says he.

“Oh, please don’t say that,” she says.
“You may leave anytime,” says he.

“Why do you behave like this?” she says.
“Why do you make me like this?” says he.

“Maybe I should leave,” she says.
“Oh, don’t say that,” says he.

“It’s cold in here,” she says.
“I live alone,” says he.


by Ryan Dowling

Poemland by Chelsey Minnis

Poemland by Chelsey Minnis

I wanted to bring to light a poet who has been dormant for the better part of the last decade. Given her irreverent attitude toward poetry, she is perhaps exactly where she wants to be: out of the spotlight. Nevertheless, I think Chelsey Minnis holds an important place in the tradition of subversive literature, and does well to challenge our ideas of poetry: its purpose, its application, its presentation, etc.

It’s rare that a poet has the audacity to provoke her readers with mockery, and then to turn and say to them, “Isn’t this why you bought my book of poems?” But it’s precisely because Minnis puts her literary transgressions center stage and refuses to sugar coat them that she’s able to pull it off. She isn’t handing out moral lessons or sentimental portraits; she’s bringing us poetry like a “whip brought to you on a tray,” and asking us to accept a challenge.

As such, she has garnered somewhat of a divisive response to her writing. Initially, I found her crass. But something stuck with me about her, and I gave her another chance. Soon, I found myself impressed by her inventiveness and her mastery of voice. I also began to find the flippant attitude of her speaker genuine and often humorous. She’s doing a lot more than meets the eye at first glance. Stay with her, and you’ll find yourself in on her elaborate little joke, instead of on the end of it.

The last book she released was “Poemland.” Note the stylized title within the frame of the barcode, stamped over the background image of pink fluff.


Image result for chelsey minnis poemland

Here are some excerpts from Poemland (2009):


“It is like picking up a white telephone and ordering champagne…

And a blood drop licked off an apple…

I don’t see why I must be so terrifically sorry…

With this book I have made a very expensive joke…”


“This is a long boring attack.

How can you fail to pretend to be encouraging and reasonable?

Ridiculous achievements of life!

This is when I talk and talk boringly into a tape recorder but point to my vagina…”


“My selfless vengeance will never be appreciated!

I’ll chop your head off!

And I’ll carry it around by the hair…

And you just sit there smiling and playing the piano with your prosthetic hooks…”


“This is when your hair sticks to your lipstick and it is so cuckoo…

You close the bedroom-dividing curtain…

Gold smudges…and a gemstone powered engine!

A great devalued thing is a plain life…

But I like it like a venus-fly-trap pried open with tweezers…”


“I want to sit very calmly with my bangs curled…

But my pet monster has bitten my hand!

Life makes me sad.

So sad that I walk down the street etc.”

Drinking And Writing

Drinking and Writing

The slurred myth of poet-drunks
being superior to sober poets
is only bar-talk between bullshitters
after two in the morning.
I mashed that self-destruct button
for a whole decade and got no gut-feeling
other than a sick one.
I lost valuables and fell in the streets,
racked up regrets and grievances, woke up
on the bottom half
of a wheeling depression
after nights of bad sleep in a backwards dream.
Dionysus never imbued me with the wisdom
of the vine. I never
saw the point of the moon
after a jug of wine.
What I gained in courage
I lost in dependency:
Booze only inspired
poor spelling
and a trip to the pisser
every three lines.

by Ryan Dowling