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Three poems by Jessie Lynn McMains

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

Mad, Love


Dearest Peter Lorre—


Or shall I call you Laszlo, Mein liebchen? Shall I call you moonface? My mouse-king, furry small thing, demanding sweets and trinkets, demanding more and more and more. I’ll give you everything, my darling. Dimestore diamond rings and cocoa beans. Every charm hung from my chatelaine. Only say you’ll be mine. Say you’ll take a ride with me on that abandoned carousel, hold my hand while the rusted beasts creak to life beneath us and the drunken, off-key calliope plays “Kiss Me Again.” Only kiss me again. Come on over. Say boo. Boo who? You. My ghost-boo. Oooh, you’re the man of my screams. The man of my dreams. The other night I dreamed of you. I woke alone in bed and felt a breeze pass through. The chill of ghost arms around me then disintegrating, dissipating into the dusty dark of my room. Oh call me mad, love, but who am I to say that our ghostly affair is any less real than the dust that settles on my dresser, or the half-empty bottles of perfume? I felt a shiver of you pass through and when you’d gone a scent hung on the air. A smear of perfumed oil, thick with gardenia. My haunting honey, my dear. How queer a miracle.






all night in the city of longing


house of my blood. house of porch-rot & moth-bulbs. house of hey

baby, whaddya say you & me settle down & get malaria together?

house of grease paint. house of dharma bums. house of death-whistle

& funereal spirits hissing in the dumbwaiter. all night-long, strangled

& bound by guitar strings turning my skin rot-green. house of broken

glass & pinpricks. house that swallowed me sword-like. house of haunt

in the city of brothers & bridges. city of bluegrass and sweat heat, lager

& whisky. city of memorials & gardens of stained, of shattered. glass

house. acid house. night-long, the throaty rumble of the trolley & the whine

of mosquitos. house of freaks, born & made. feral marmalade cats

& roaches. house of welcome to hell, here’s yer squeezebox. house of Hank

Williams on the turntable. house of I’m so lonesome. I cried all night

in the city of longing.



















Jessie Lynn McMains (they/them) is a multi-genre writer. They are the author of several chapbooks, most recently The Girl With the Most Cake and forget the fuck away from me. They were the recipient of the 2019 Hal Prize for poetry, and were the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, WI. They have lived in at least three haunted buildings, and took a photo of a ghost once, in a cemetery in West Virginia. You can find their website at recklesschants.net, or find them on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie

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