2 Poems by Jessica Madison

In Fairness, she was

naked except for that fur

(the one from Orient Furrier), she said You’re only kind

to me when- and pricked

him with her mothy needle.

He walked all the way home in the rain.

He thought he might as well have

shot her in the stomach, since it was raining

and the world was almost over


Sun Chariot

As I said last time

I left in chains,

I will not make salt of you

this time, friend.

[My horses require no water.]

“You’ll find them in a place

beneath the freeway.”

They said,

and threw it open.

[My horses require no water.]


It’s someone. This is what they told me.

They told me this.


told me.

[My horses require no water.]

So what is this about–

it is so hot everywhere.


Jessica Madison lives in Brooklyn.


2 Poems by Karin Gottshall

Original Photo by Karin Gottshall

The Victorian Age

One thousand lockets minus a lace handkerchief
equals a flock of passenger pigeons, each
carrying a Valentine heart. Seven hundred

ladies’ gloves plus a fishing village
amounts to one temperamental swan and a missing
engagement ring. The alphabet backwards

equals the cemetery on the hill. Marzipan
equals almonds, eggs, sugar, and a scullery maid
weeping into her apron. We’ve lost count

of cravats, hair brooches, and riding boots, traded
a deck of cards for two gentlemen playing
at charades. Top hats can be added to tapioca—

flavor with rum. Two hundred and fifty
petticoats multiplied by twelve chimneysweeps
equals a shattered femur. One locomotive

plus a dozen headmasters comes to a bakery
on Easter morning: hot cross buns with currants.
A dirge equals a dirge. Twenty-seven

daguerreotypes times three overwrought aviaries
is a solar eclipse. Christmas divided by deep mourning
equals burnt porridge. Thirteen hundred orphans left over.


Love Poem with Ebb Tide

I mistook strangers’ gestures for yours—
strangers walking toward me in the sun. Lilacs

tossed by the wind. The tiny bones
of our wrists sometimes ached when it rained,

and Sundays I bought books and artichokes,
thinking why do I have to be so fragile,

I am too fragile. You held my face
in your fingers; pantomime of a wedding

enacted by fireflies. We shielded our eyes
when the harbor was filled with sails. White

sails! And the long breaths of cool wind
from Quebec. I had a feeling someone

was looking for me, but searching the wrong
century. When I went to sea—but I didn’t,

I never went. I just stood on the pier.
You walked by, carrying a lantern.

Karin Gottshall is the author of Crocus, published by Fordham University Press in 2007, and the chapbook Flood Letters, forthcoming from Argos Books. Recent poems appear in Field, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, and in the online journals Memorious and La Petite Zine. She lives in Middlebury, Vermont, and teaches poetry writing at Middlebury College.

On Divination by Birds by Kimberly Johnson

We have long esteemed the work of Kimberly Johnson and so we are thrilled that she agreed to let us post this incredibly appropriate (and lovely) poem.

On Divination by Birds

I don’t need that black

wind of crows kicking up from flax to tell
heavy weather coming, white days to drop
barricades across the interstate,

against two hundred miles of trackless white.
(The crows so obvious then against the miles
of trackless white!) More tricky the magpies

flicker and croak at the sunken carcass
of a roadkill deer, raveling with beaks
the rubbery guts, picking gravel

from scant meat: there must be in their turn-taking
some pattern, some elegant design
beyond need, something in the raw trouble

of jays, the ragged braying geese flown south.
I gaze at their weightless wingbeats daylong
working to discern whether V might stand

for valediction, or vigilance, or
the blank indifference of velocity.

This poem first appeared in the Harvard Review and later was in her book A Metaphorical God
(Persea Books, Inc. New York, NY 2008).

Kimberly Johnson is a poet, translator, and Renaissance scholar. She is the author of a previous collection, Leviathan with a Hook, and a translation of Virgil’s Georgics. Her poems appear widely in such publications as The New Yorker, Slate, and The Iowa Review. Johnson has received prizes from the Merton Foundation and the Utah Arts Council, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Salt Lake City.

Chute by Alicia Jo Rabins


Each time a baby is born
the universe squeezes itself
through a chute,
the same chute
into which
suicides squeeze themselves.
Its mouth
is lined with small iron teeth.
When you bathe your father
who has become like a child,
you feel the teeth
on your fingers.
When your father asks
who you are,
it means his legs have been
sucked in.
For you the tunnel’s
mouth is closed;
for him it is open
and oiled.



Alicia Jo Rabins
is a Brooklyn-based poet, performer and composer who received her MFA from Warren Wilson. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, 6 x 6, Boston Review, Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (NYU Press) and Horse Poems (Knopf). As a musician she tours internationally; her original art-pop song cycle about Biblical women, Girls in Trouble, was released in October 2009 and she is the violinist in Golem, NYC’s punk-klezmer band.  She also holds a Masters in Jewish Women’s Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and tutors bar and bat mitzvah students online.

4 Poems by Sharmila Cohen

Augury likes to think of Telephone as our sister journal. Therefore, it is our honor to present 4 very small poems by one of the co-editors today!


4 Poems

The iron gates kept us out of the city
for weeks. When we finally broke through,
giant moths burst from the chimneys of every home.
When the sky cleared, our eyes burned
and all sight of the present was lost.
We are following the horn-tips
through the wilderness. Someone will be cursed
on behalf of goats. The walking stick broke
and scrambled down the mountain. This appeared
to be a prophecy. A fainting spell.
A mandatory sleep.
We galloped through the tunnels and tunnels led
to more tunnels. Sometimes fires would light
on the path ahead. During that era,
we were made of water. Those of us who evaporated
returned fully-formed in the cold evening.
The expedition failed
when someone tripped over a crate
of dead birds. We covered the body in feathers,
but blood could not be stopped. A dark trail
of wings rivered around the campsite.

Sharmila Cohen lives in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of The New School’s M.F.A. program and co-editor of Telephone, a translation-based poetry journal. Her work can also be found in Harper’s Magazine, The Cortland Review, Shampoo, and Juked, among other places.