Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slush Pile
Episode 104: Accents and Human Remains

Episode 104: Accents and Human Remains

September 22, 2022

We have a special treat, Slushies!! In today's episode, you’ll get a duet from Nancy T and Rachael Philipps. Starting with the accents of Long Island, T’s poem makes Alex think of Nassau and Suffolk County while Marion recalls Billy Joel's music. The language also leaves the crew thinking about Tracey J Smith’s, “Solstice.” The tables turn when the crew reads, Philipp’s “After you left us,” going from jargon about the sounds of the world to the description of human remains. With cremation on the rise, the crew ponders the process being described in this not-so-sentimental poem.

Alex mentioned that he is able to do a full SNL Skit, which one do you think it is?

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show.

Nancy T is a high school teacher, poet, artist from NY, currently living down south.

Rachael Philipps is a poet, journalist, and a properly misanthropic Welsh woman with an
unhealthy dependency on caffeine and marmalade. She is constantly chastened by her iPhone’s audio settings for playing LCD Soundsystem too loud whilst out on her regular jogs around the mean streets of Westchester. Rachael’s poem “Perfect Little Houseguests” was published by Swwim Every Day in August 2022, she was awarded a Bethany Arts Poetry Residency in 2021 and was the recipient of an AWP Writer to Writer mentorship for poetry in 2020. Her journalism spans broadcasting for the BBC plus writing and editorial work for print titles including Time Out London, The New York Times and Food and Wine magazine. She is currently at work on her first chapbook.

Nancy T
Long Island Sound

The chop on the sound
nearly drowns the clubbing
you deal bluefish on deck.
Red slicks beneath one bold bastard
flipping you silvered
curses, straining for water

or flesh, some end. Then wind
surprises, cracks you a backhand,
a cleat bruise begins darkening your rose tattoo.

They suspend at depth, hit
and hit until sated and free,
or iced under gray. The bow

begs a turning back
we know you’ll refuse. Tired, still
for a time not long, never long,
you swear when the inboard coughs
taunts and seizes,

and the rain, the rain dares spit
on your back in the hold
under gulls striking near,
the siren water sounds
gone unlovely, steady long gone,
just the sound of metal striking struck
metal, like metal resisting your forge hard and hot and bent and

The gulls cry over diesel on waves
sheening a sad iridescence, like soap on tongue.


Rachael Philipps
After you left us

After you left us, I got the call
Her cremains are ready, she said.
The what? I said

The cremains...cremated remains.
She explained, testily. Like... duh.
Oh, I say Her ashes.

What I wanted to say –
She, should
never be called cremains.

Of course I angry-Googled it –
industry term, euphemism,
first found in a newspaper obituary in 1947.

Discovered that her body,
once incinerated, was swept from
the furnace with a metal broom

and looked nothing like ashes (or cremains)
but like sand and bleached sticks.
A desiccated high-tide at the beach.

I found myself admiring our stubborn
big bones which apparently
always refuse to yield to 1800 degrees.

Yet even they must
submit to process,
get pulverized

in a Cremulator
to a uniform grind
to fit the urn.

to make the gone,
and their place inside us,
take up the least space possible.


Nancy T

Rachel Phillipps


Episode 103: Strange Complicities and Confessions

Episode 103: Strange Complicities and Confessions

August 26, 2022

It’s okay to be somber, Slushies! Don't let the poetic gestures confuse you as the rhythm and pacing contribute to a starburst of flash fiction by Maria McLeod. The obligation to help the writer leaves the crew thinking, as Kathy recalls Dubus’s “A Fathers Story” and Marion thinking of “The Defeated” on Netflix. “The Eternal Fall Backwards” will have you captured in the stream of the writer's thoughts and deeply invested in remaining there. 

What piece of media did you recall while reading “The Eternal Fall Backwards”? 

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show.


Maria McLeod writes poetry and prose. Honors include the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Prize, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. She was named the 2020 WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook Contest winner, judged by Oregon State Poet Laureate Kim Stafford, for “Mother Want,” published in 2021. Her second poetry chapbook, "Skin. Hair. Bones.," will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2022. Her poetry and prose has appeared in leading literary journals such as Puerto Del Sol, The Brooklyn Rail, Critical Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, Sonora Review and others. Originally from the Detroit area, she currently resides in Bellingham, Washington where she works as a professor of journalism for Western Washington University. 

The Eternal Fall Backwards 

I hold his head in my hands, pull it to my chest. O. O of his mouth. Eyes glazed. It's dark and he didn't mean to do it. Make out the words, hit and run, man run over. Wanted to kill him. Words of the mouth: pathetic, half human, why don't I die, why not dead. Words slide one after another, into each other, slur, collapse, run down, run out.

There are tears and, sorry, I'm so sorry, drinking, always too much drinking. How an evening progresses, regresses. There are his two bodies: one ferocious, to be feared, a man afire; the other, a boy's, a fetal position, a thumb to his lips. There are nights like this when I am the mother. When I cradle his head in my lap, smooth his hair and say, it’s okay, you're okay now.

I have gone to the jail tonight to pay them to release him, because, drunk, he tried to kill a man. Drunk and stoned or hallucinating, he had run over a man, but missed his body and only hit his leg and the man fell down in the night and someone thought they heard a deep, deep moan but all were sure they had seen him fall backward in that eternal fall backwards that happens in slow motion. And someone said the man's body flailed and twitched after the car drove too fast and right at the man who didn't have time to run but looked up to see the face of a driver already afraid of what he had done.

There are days when I am not the mother. There are days when I am small, when I am the girl, when his hands are too large and his arms too strong. Days when my death comes too soon and then not soon enough, when he drinks too much and finds me in his bathroom seeing myself in his mirror and he's angry; my face is too much in his house and he cannot stand it there and pushes me quick into the mirror and the mirror cracks and my face is cut. These are the days I am not in my body, and so I walk and walk away and down the street afloat above myself, waiting for him to come. But first, he must hit me so it's my voice calling us back from the street, my screaming that draws us from the dark, saying look, look what you have done.

Night again. I bathe him and he is crying into the bath. On this night, he has pushed his best friend through a storefront and has cut himself trying to save him, deciding, after the glass shattered, he didn't mean it. It is like this for him, the before and the after: the anger behind the headlights followed by the fear of the body fallen backwards. Collision of two moments: hit and run. He bleeds into the bath, and I worry that I will need to take him to the doctors and they will see that he has taken drugs and has been drinking. I fear they’ll send him away, or keep him for themselves, thinking I won’t know how to heal him.

I am good at giving the bath. I rub circles at the sides of his head. I know to scoop hands full of warm water over his shoulders so they run down his chest. When I do this, my mother appears in my head, angry and not allowing my brothers to bathe because they make a mess she is sick of cleaning up. Instead she drinks and sleeps on the couch with her own hair greasy and stuck to her head. My brothers would go to school stained, unwashed, and the others would hold their noses and laugh and point. So I would wait until my mother fell into the deep sleep she does not easily wake from and I would gather my two brothers into the bathroom and tell them to take their clothes off. And I would fill the tub with water and the oldest one would refuse to take off his underwear because he didn't want me to see him. And I would say to get in anyway and I won't look at you. And this time he would do what I said.

I know his sickness. I know that what is left looks like him, but is not him. When I bathe him, he stops my hand from scooping the water and pulls me to him. He sees that I have been crying, too. He says that he did this. And I say yes, but that moment is past and now we are in another. He is crying the tears that come after the screaming and the hitting, tears that ask forgive me. I am closing my eyes and whispering that I have a room where a bed waits for him, where the walls give way and the light is a soft, cloudy white. I am circling him with my arms and he is crying into my belly. I am taking him, guiding him down the cold hallway into the warmth of the room where I cover him and keep watch, waiting for what is yet to come.


Episode 102: Aging Tantric Pornstars

Episode 102: Aging Tantric Pornstars

August 8, 2022

Join us as we consider a pack of poems by Pier Wright, and the complexities of pacing, prosody, and narrative poems with strange and powerful images: memory, tenderness, a “magnificent young moose,” & the magic of being caught in the act. Kathleen “Gratitude” Volk Miller, champion explicator and advocate for gratitude and neuroplasticity, analyzes the “small pointy hats of hope” as lovers entwine. Jason “Gorgeous Vectors” Schneiderman loves sticky collisions. Gabby and Alex and the crew ponder happy endings and surprises that feel like “Objective correlatives,” slushies. Spoiler: Marion “Sunshine” Wrenn makes an appearance from future past, or future perfect, or…something like that. It all makes a great story. 

Slushies, what is your “embarrassing at the moment but will be funny later” story? 


This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist  A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 

Pier Wright attended Kalamazoo College where he was influenced by the poetry of Con Hilberry and later by that of Diane Seuss. The first poetry reading he ever attended, and has never forgotten, was Robert Bly reading from Silence In The Snowy Fields. He received a Post-Baccalaureate & Masters degree from The Art Institute of Chicago. As a student he discovered Fairfield Porter, Monet’s large Water Lilly paintings at at Musée de l'Orangerie, Terry Winters, Mary Heilmann, Philip Guston’s late paintings, Giotto, Noguchi, etc.. Influences include Prayer Wheels, Marie Howe, Chris Martin, Peter Matthiessen, Stephen Dunn, John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Joni Mitchell, Phyllida Barlow, the ceramic work of Toshiko Takaezu, and, most recently, the writings of C.D. Wright. While living as a hermit for several years at the end of a peninsula in N Michigan he began working with Michael Delp. He has been the director of Wright Gallery since 2002 and is recently married.

Socials:  Instagram is pierdwright, Facebook is Pier Wright, and website is (paintings)



Driveway Poem


we arrived early at the house by the subshop

after the bar closed

it was cold and being new at love

the only way we thought to keep warm

was by undressing completely, with great urgency

in the front seat of the Ford

then my foot got stuck in the horn

just as our friends began arriving

we couldn’t have left even if we’d wanted to

with all the cars having parked behind us

so we went to the party anyway

me with my shoes untied

you unfolding yourself from the car like a magnificent young moose

the night sky on one side of you and the stars over there

the way you had of entering a room back then

as though by just walking the muddy path to the stoop

a lotus popped out




what was once impotent in me

remains in this fiery house

on a small lot, crap lawn

every roughed grief

the small pointy hats of hope

red hibiscus bushes wilting in a row

the heat slicked fur of a sleeping hound

a house made not of things

but the relationship between things

such as the desire two bodies have

when flying blindly toward each other

at incredible speed

so, when I ask if I can make you breakfast

what I mean is, I am thankful you are finally here


The Hibiscus, Key West


we shared thin, raw, slices of tuna,

conch salad, cracked stone crab claws,

drank dark rum, tripped over the noisy chickens

on our way to your room.

drank more rum from plastic cups,

then a table broke, the matching chair in pieces,

waltzing together across worn linoleum

like aging Tantric porn stars.

waking to Cuban coffee, I remember eggs,

while waiting for a bus to Miami

you wrote your number on a napkin.

I tried calling several times,

a memory persistent as the fly banging

on this kitchen door screen.


Mother’s Day


what a day in the garden

pulling out the knotweed

the clover and spurge

forgiving you for leaving so soon

the way they cut your head open

I recall a dream

I find you in a dumpster it’s hot

your bones are missing

and you can’t get out

just now before dark

beside the thistle and burdock

your cheeks wet I ask if you are hungry

I chop potatoes eggs olives

how tender the early dandelion greens

are tossed with sea salt

bitter with lemon

drizzled with the good oil

I keep for company

Episode 101: The Anti-Efficiency Episode

Episode 101: The Anti-Efficiency Episode

July 18, 2022

Slushies, what are some ways a writer may gain your trust? Kathy lifts a brow at poems including questions. Marion looks side ways at pop-cultural references. (Check out this favorite of ours from issues past.) But these poems may make them think otherwise. In “Diving For Pearls” the imagery pulls us into the world of Bedouin and sea-faring cultural economy. Or how “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” may trivialize the idea of the context of curiosity.

Speaking of sparking your joy— or not— what was an item that you loved but had to get rid of?

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show.

Rasha Alduwaisan is an oral historian from Kuwait. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Willow Springs and The Common. She earned an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University.



Diving for Pearls

My body is a sack of bones,
feet bound, heavy with stone,
I plunge and sand shatters
without a sound, tongue-
tied, this sea is breathless,
rope & leather & lead,
I grasp what I can see,
rough shells, round shells,
hollow shells,
I mouth your name
and something stirs –
I pry myself open to find it.


Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Marie, I drove to the landfill yesterday    to find my wedding dress    the one    
I couldn’t bear to give to anyone else    I know I shouldn’t have    but I followed
the truck down the beach road and into the desert    tried to plead at the gates
you know    the way they do in the movies    but security was so tight, Marie    
so I watched from the car  and it looked like a mound of bodies  lace wrapped
around denim around plastic around mulch    and there were so many toys,
Marie dolls without stuffing    bikes without wheels    so many fridges    
torn at the hinge    and the truck I followed could have been any truck    
my dress any dress    so I left    drove deeper into the desert    until all I could
see were seagulls    dipping in and out of the heap    nothing on their backs 
but feathers    and they looked so happy, Marie    they really did



I dab oud on my wrists, my neck,
the gap between my breasts,

the way the Agar pours sap into its
wounds, the tender scent filling the room.

In Cambodia, they strip down trees
to find it, the infected bark, the salve.

My throat is dry from shouting, this time
about you smoking inside the house,

the stove I left on all night,
the text we cannot translate.

I want you to kiss me, but all I can do
is tell you I would be better off without you.

Tell me, how long does a bruised tongue
take to heal? How sweet does it taste?

Episode 100: A Steady Lub Dub

Episode 100: A Steady Lub Dub

June 7, 2022

How do you pronounce San Gorgonio,” Slushies? How do you say Schuylkill?” We talk regional accents, local knowledge, and artistic craft-- from the risks of the pathetic fallacy to the unknowability of metaphor, the art of ambiguity, and, of course, the golden shovel. Join us for an episode devoted to poems by Marko Capoferri where we discuss poetic craft, resonant symbols, and the peculiar power of telephone poles. 

What can’t you pronounce where you live? 


Links to things we discuss that you may dig:  

Eula Biss’s Time and Distance Overcome 

Jennifer L. Knox’s Irwin Allen Vs. The Lion Tamer 


At the table: Katheleen Volk Miller, Marion Wrenn, Jason Schneiderman, Samantha Neugebauer, Larissa Morgano & Kate Wagner 



This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song Spaghetti with Lorettanow opens our show.  


Marko Capoferri has lived and worked in eight US states, including Montana, where he currently resides. He is an incoming MFA candidate at the University of Montana in Missoula. He is desperately seeking fellow Italian-Americans in Montana for good pasta and raised voices. 



San Gorgonio 


White paper coffee cups collect in drifts 

by the freeway exit ramp—the hearts of ghosts 

once held tight then tossed out the window 

of a car speeding across the desert at four a.m. 


trying to stay awake to see, when the light 

came back, what the battered face of the land 

could tell us about ourselves: how the mountains 

were stark and risen; how we were sunk dumb 


in between, a scathing plain of wind turbines 

resonating unearthly as Amelia Earhart's flooded engines 

chugging their final gasp on the ocean floor;   

how the sea was here once and swallowed heights, 


long since yawned and pulled away paving 

this desert with a tired yellow dirt now blown 

through our teeth, through our beating pistons, 

and a few black rounded stones as souvenirs 


from lost time; how thistle-studded towns 

were hardly refuge; how the many stones 

we had gathered were bright and jagged, 

too young by design to tell any real story; 


how lust and lost became an exchange in glances 

through a motel’s cracked facade; how these roads 

kept on dressing down like lightning on a postcard 

running fingers in the hot mouth of experience. 


Self-portrait with Elegy 


Just like we were on the Great Plains 

in 1949, my father and I would gather 

summer nights with neighbors 

lining our country road to watch 

constellations disbanding. Whether tragedy 

or a tragic lack of imagination, it’s hard 

to say—he and I simply could not see 

any threads or their severing. Then, 

as now, telephone wires also lined the road 

linking the night one lighted island 

at a time, though the wires are now dead 

gestures, props to a faded empire 

of distant voices made close but never 

close enough to turn that light 

into warmth. What’s left—sinking 

into my own humidity, my own 

expanse of darkness, and he 

to his own. As you read this 

it is surely a summer night some place 

the land extends forever 

until it gives up where the visible 

begins to visibly waver, either 

from the heat or from the failure 

of the possibilities of sight. 


Episode 99: Greek Mythos and Labyrinths

Episode 99: Greek Mythos and Labyrinths

May 20, 2022

Hello Slushies. Do you see the string? Past the blooming peonies and fungus gnats? Follow us into the labyrinth of our minds as we discuss the work of Eric Stiefel. You may need to brush up on your Greek mythology and Italian literature as a guide. A discussion about various versions of ourselves turns into discussion of an app that animates photographs of faces and National Mason Jar Day (November 30th). And, maybe, the only way out of the labyrinth of the mind is to open your mouth only to forget what you were going to say. 


If there was a national day to celebrate you, what would you want people to do that day? 

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 

Eric Stiefel is a poet and critic living in Athens, Ohio with his dog, Violet. He teaches at Ohio University, where he is also pursuing a PhD. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Apple Valley Review, Prism Review, The Literary Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere.

At This Point, I’d Take Anything 

A claw of thread’s all it takes to follow one thought to the next— 

when West killed himself I didn’t say his name out loud for months,

though most days I still lean forward and pull my head back as if some spectral hand pulls my chin taut and points my gaze to the life 

he abandoned inside this house of chaos we call everyday or otherwise inscrutable, my shoulders trembling like stained glass, the same way, 

I imagine, Theseus trembled as his father threw himself to the rocks, not long after he left Ariadne sleeping on a beach made of coral and grit, 

the mind displaced while the body stays behind, the breath clipped short and calcified, strung up in the overgrown garden Dante held back for suicides, 

while, in some version of the myth, Ariadne became a god, goddess of serpents and twine and everything tangled, winged beasts hovering on the fringe 

of knowing one way or the other, gloating on the worn-out roots of the trees we’ll be burdened to, until I’m sitting on the floor in front of a coffee table 

pleading first with myself and then everything else, this skeleton of history and an infinity of arrangements of the stars for an answer of some kind— 

at this point, I’d take anything that masquerades as understanding like a barrel to my chest, something to cradle off into the murk and the shadows of the night. 



Each time I kill one of my old selves—or more often let him loose into the static—I stumble on his shade sometime later, often when the seasons have changed and the lilacs have withered so that they, too, no longer resemble their former selves— 

He was there, right there, standing in front of the meat market, with a ring of brass keys in his hand, just watching 

as the pedestrians idled by— 

and I start to ask if I would recognize myself if seen 

from any real distance, or would it all just blur, terribly,

so that there could be no gesture, no omen or ominous figure lurking in the corner of one’s eye, and what 

would I do then, what jar would I keep the days in, and how would I order them or else unravel further into a blizzard of ideas, and then what sense could I make of this before suddenly drifting away? 


If It’s True of Human Nature 

Actually, I hate the flowers— 

now that the birds have vanished, as the last clouds drain away and a thin light winnows down where a grove of bees used to flourish— 

and if you spoke to me of cruelty, I’d think about primrose in winter, lying dormant in the dirt, holding itself frozen, while the leaves left on the surface lose themself to rot— 

I’ve been bestial and cunning, the way

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤa troop of foxes conspires to survive the snow, 

as winter moths lay havoc on landscapes of white trees— 

and if you spoke softly, I might learn to trust you, even fold as a feathered wing, knowing that you might hurt me 

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤand that that hurt might be a kind of devotion 

that we couldn’t explain, as the roof dulls the raindrops above us into something bearable, 

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤas if we could know 

the limits of what we could bear—

Episode 98: The Skin is Where the Body Stops

Episode 98: The Skin is Where the Body Stops

April 28, 2022

Slushies, are you ready to take a deep dive into some fiction? Listen to “Benefitting Positions,” at the link below, or read it here. Would you ever hire a professional hugger, or would you want to be one? Listen in as the group discusses the concept of professional snuggling and what the drive is behind good fiction. In this time of social distancing, the topic of touch has become more pignant than ever, and very much so in Jac Smith's piece.

Maybe you’ll be a different kind of touched when you listen to how proud the group is of Jonathan. Maybe you’ll feel even another kind of touched when you hear about Jason’s academic journey, followed by Larissa's journey in the VCap Department, which has helped acclimate an ungodly 30,000 zoom users. 

Send us your thoughts on the piece, and what you think of Jane’s anger, and we'll leave you Slushies with one last question. There isn’t a right or wrong, although we are side-eyeing you, do you read a book’s ending first? Or are you NORMAL and read the book from the beginning to end?


Listen to Benefitting Positions


This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist  A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 

Jac Smith is a MFA graduate from the University of Notre Dame and a recipient of the Studios of Key West Fellowship. She is currently seeking representation for her novel, The Loose, which explores grief as a form of addiction and is set in the Florida Keys. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her wife. Her work can be found at Hypertrophic Literary and Santa Ana River Review.

Episode 97: Navigating Dirtbags & Oracles

Episode 97: Navigating Dirtbags & Oracles

February 21, 2022

We’re thrilled to consider new poems and flash fiction by Dr. Emily Kingery on this episode. Subtle and specific and utterly compelling, these poems make us ponder and pause and praise. We’re global as ever, Slushies: from Lititz, PA, to the KGB Bar, Gabby is somewhere in Powelton, it’s last year’s Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem!), Samantha hasn’t gotten married yet, and Kingery’s got us thinking about the trouble we got into in high school basements. Time warps and shapes shift! Listen in & enjoy. 


This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 


At the table: Addison, Alex, Gabby, Jason, Kate, Kathy, Larissa, Marion, & Samantha 


Emily Kingery is an English professor at a small university in Iowa and the author of Invasives (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming), a semi-finalist in the New Women’s Voices Series. Her work appears widely in journals, including Birdcoat Quarterly, Blood Orange Review, GASHER, The Madison Review, Midwest Review, New Ohio Review, Plainsongs, Raleigh Review, and Sidereal, among others. She has been a chapbook finalist at Harbor Editions and Thirty West Publishing House, as well as the recipient of honors and awards in both poetry and prose at Eastern Iowa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Midway Journal, Quarter After Eight, and Small Orange Journal. She serves on the Board of Directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a non-profit supporting writers in the Quad Cities community (, and you can follow her on facebook:

Dirtbag Wilderness

Our dirtbags, our dirtbags

were medicine men.


They spoke as oracles,

capped bottles, skated


razorblades across

the glass of pictures.


It’s just like shoveling snow,

laughed our dirtbags


as they unburied

their parents’ faces.


Like raking leaves,

want to try?


We watched their hands

swap bills, our eyes


the wrong kind of wild.

Our dirtbags laughed:


You can sit with us

while we finish.


This was intimacy:

our sitting; their finishing.


We laughed; we returned

frames to their shelves.


We bought shadows dark

and lip stains darker. Darker,


said our dirtbags, damp

on basement couches.


We envied in secret

the laughs of bright girls,


high as their hair

pinned in hard, slick curls.


They spun like acrobats

in the high school gym,


strobing in glitz

we were disallowed.


Bitches, spat our dirtbags,

skanks, whichever


words coaxed our laughter.

We swallowed them


like expectorant

and laughed in wet coughs


under canopies

of parking lot trees,


our arms crossed as though

coffined already.


We rolled in our dirtbags’ scent

like hunting dogs,


napped in stuffy rooms

as their hands, their hands


blessed guns, made backpacks

heavy with Ziploc holy.


It’s all good, laughed our dirtbags.

Our hips, our ponytails


swayed easy as leaves.

By summer, our dirtbags


wore sly, deep pockets,

weighed powders,


held capsules to the light

under a jeweler’s loupe.


The car windows glided,

phones lit up like lightning


bugs on the shoulders

of gravel roads. Such soft light,


light of vigils, light the yellow

of a forgiven bruise.


We rode to neighboring towns

of missing teeth and needles.


We cried in bathrooms

far from home. We were home


when we laughed, when we laughed

we laughed Everclear vomit.


But our dirtbags, our dirtbags

let us sit while they finished,


and their hands were warm

as stones pressing us to sleep.


Funeral for a Cat

When the cat was killed by a driver in a tragic hit-and-run, the dirt bike kid watched it happen. He screamed to gather us to her carcass: Pumpkin! He pedaled hard around the block. Pumpkin is dead!

I was afraid to tell Dad, at first. He went outside, shoveled Pumpkin into a grocery bag and dug a hole under a lilac bush. It was too late in the season for flowers, but he said they would bloom next year: a small truth sounding like kindness.

The kids begged him for a real funeral to say goodbye. He smiled a little, but not at them, and had us circle the grave and hold each other’s sweaty hands while he prayed. It was a test.

The dirt bike kid and the girls with yards of upside-down toys wept for the cat, loose with their sadness. The streetlights flickered on, and I was afraid of Dad again. I tried not to picture Pumpkin with a halo and wings, but I failed. I begged God to forgive me for it, then tried not to picture God as a cat shaking its head at my blasphemy, then prayed not to cry as the cats kept coming. I missed the amen, but I held out. I passed.

After the funeral, Dad said I was so grown-up, not weeping over a cat that didn’t belong to anyone. Not to the neighborhood, not even to God.

He prayed over hamsters in the years to follow, maybe a second cat. He prayed, and I grew into a tragic, feral thing.






Episode 96: Larissa‘s Philly Hoagie Mouth

Episode 96: Larissa‘s Philly Hoagie Mouth

December 13, 2021

Slushies, do you know your shades and types of blue? Do you know how to say blue in Russian? When we talk of St. Petersburg, are we talking about Russia? Or Florida? When we discuss Max Lasky’s poems we discuss what we call things and how we write things and what to call the things we write. (Discuss what ‘lyric’ means amongst yourselves.) “Come Here” takes the table to a scene in Maryland, once home to Jason and his long “O,” and is heavy in Hikmet. After reading “Prothalamion Poured from a Copper Cezve,” a love poem or a poem about love, we continue to praise Lasky’s juggling of images and figurative tight-rope walking.

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show.

At the table: Samantha Neugebauer, Alex J. Tunney, Kathleen Volk Miller, Jason Schneiderman, and Marion Wrenn

Max Lasky is a poet from New Jersey, currently living in Maryland with his fiancé where they are raising two plant children: a hardy mum named Thomas, and a basil plant named Bunting. Max is finishing up his final year in the MFA program at the University of Maryland and earned his B.A. from Ramapo College. His poems have been published by Trillium and Frontier Poetry, and he is the co-founder and editor of the literary magazine Leavings. He lives in and for the slush.

Come Here

We read Hikmet during what she called
a picnic, though we brought no wicker basket,
no plaid blanket, we rolled our jeans up
under our knees to wade across the river,
wide and knee high, the entire riverbed
bedded with sharp rocks covered in moss,
slick enough beneath our bare feet to make us
walk slow, half cautious, as a group of five men
flyfishing spoke Spanish, reeling in fish
too small to keep, taking swigs from warm
beer cans at the shore when they turned bored,
wanting us to leave. We stayed. As did the birds
pitching in a nearby thicket, almost inaudible
near the pop blaring from a portable speaker,
and a quiet drone flew high above the water.
Which is to say nature’s no more, at least
not there in Catonsville, Maryland, mid August,
where the Patapsco flowing toward the Chesapeake
could double as the sound of traffic passing
on a highway. All the plastic, all the tin cans
and wrappers littered across the rocks, the sand—
and yet hopeless is not something to be,
not for me or Hikmet or my love, who smirks
when I say a new Turkish word correctly.
My love, what are we to do? We lounged
on that ripped towel, smoking, when we should’ve
scoured the shoreline picking up trash. In masks
because of a pandemic, not one person
walking past on the trail looked us in the eye
or said hi, how are you? I lose a little hope…
I hope a little less and learn a new language,
or try. I learn how the river was commandeered
from Native American tribes by dead men, white men
who wanted to fuel their new plants and mills,
men who never imagined the future here,
hundreds of years later, or else just didn’t care,
not for us or the two women who walked
hand in hand, a leashed dog barking at their feet,
not the men who spoke Spanish and looked at me
confused when I asked what kind of fish is that?
I already knew it was a trout. I already knew
Hikmet was a communist who loved Marx and Lenin
and each of his three wives. Some of us strive
to better the world, some strive to better ourselves,
and the striving sometimes transcends joy.
Hikmet tried both not long ago when he wrote
“My strength is that I’m not alone in this big world.
The world and its people are no secret in my heart,
no mystery in my science. Calmly and openly,
I took my place in the great struggle.” I turned
to face a warm wind that laced my face with sand,
for the future’s everchanging, before it even happens…
Come here and change me, you whose tongue
on my tongue tastes of Turkish tobacco, and sun,
you who say the unsayable. Come here, aşkım,
lend me your hope, teach me how to grin again
after two decades of elegy and a broken language
rife with misogyny, and god. We took Nazım
to the water’s edge and read the translations
energetically, sweating, as the park closed
and the sun lowered, and for a few moments,
it seemed as if it was just us three and the river,
carving through the earth like the blood through
our veins, I learned a new word for landscape.


Prothalamion Poured from a Copper Cezve

Zuleyha read my fortune
in the dried coffee grinds

and tossed the saucer toward
the future, its arc across

left a chem trail renting
the sky, and I didn’t ask why,

I didn’t point it out or make
a scene about the vision

I’d been led to believe, as if
with a shovel in a lame novel,

as if my ears were a septic chute
that accepted every story,

no matter how far from true.
I didn’t mention my nomad past

or how my brain’s forced from place
to place in caravans, canal boats,

tents reeking of frankincense, pine,
or how that’s just another story

I’d been fed with a shovel.
I realized somewhat early on

in this early life that most people
are eager to live their lives

like stars beyond a projector,
a drive in, seemingly unaware

of the dark screen, and willing
to wrong anyone if it means

someone lifts the loose noose
from their own bowed necks—

they almost sprint down the steps.
I crawl up the steps to every

bad decision I’ve let happen,
happy to say I’ve changed,

took notes on each mistake
and if I ever turned back

I was sure to take a different path.
When I go home to the house

I grew up in, it’s not to stay.
As for the story, neither one of us

could say if it was imagined.
I wake some mornings to find

signs that don’t make sense,
suspicious of my own breath

and the sunlight through the slats,
because the world’s senseless

and nonsensical and tense.
A paranoiac and a high priestess

make for one hell of a couple,
our studio’s more like a circus,

we’re trapeze swingers swooping
from corner to corner, blowing

clown horns as we paint our faces
in a shattered mirror. Our strict

schedule requires us to weep
all day and dance at night,

saying I’m so fucking lucky
I met you. I’m so fucking lucky…

I rejoice, I digress, I paint two
red lines under each of our eyes

and step in line, waiting stone like.
I’m well aware it could be me

paranoid and schizophrenic
on the side of the street, paranoid

past repair, not knowing where
the self ends and society begins,

it could easily be me if not
for five or six good people.

As for the lover, I’m damn sure.
I put a poem around her finger

because I couldn’t afford a ring,
which means I’m always already

all in. I push the stack of chips
to the center of the table. I grin.

Episode 95: Sweet! Poems by Hillary Adler

Episode 95: Sweet! Poems by Hillary Adler

November 22, 2021

Slushies! We’re excited to release this episode featuring three poems by Hillary Adler: "Did You Google that or Shake a Magic 8 Ball?"; "We Must Be Animals"; and "Letter to Erika from a Bench on Christopher St." Recorded in the spring of 2020, our crew is well locked down but looking up, delighted to be reading poems together from afar. We’re down with “dirty words,” Slushies, and the ontology of the self, despite Marion’s broken thumb. It’s animality and the annoyingness of humans in “We Must Be Animals.” “Letter to Erika” brings the Big Gay Ice Cream back to us, and Jason talks about football while Marion tries to imitate Charles Bukowski, badly. Adler’s poems invite us into reverie, meditation, frank images, syntactical pleasures, and the challenge of sweetness. 

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist  A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 

At the Table: Jason Schneiderman, Kathleen Volk Miller, Addison Davis, & Samantha Neugebauer.

Hillary Adler is poet and journalist, and is currently the Director of Marketing for Topl, an impact technology company that enables digital and sustainable transformation across value chains and empowers the monetization of impact verified on the Topl Blockchain.  She is from New York City, and holds an MFA from The New School. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Poetry Foundation, BuzzFeed, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. Her first completed book of poems, We Must Be Animals, has been in a drawer for over a year. Maybe one day it will see daylight. Until then, she can be found on Twitter and IG @HillaryAdler.

Episode 94: Two Authors, One Episode

Episode 94: Two Authors, One Episode

October 22, 2021

Featuring Sarah St. Vincent & Karolina Zapal

How many times can we reference the 90’s before you actually start believing that we can time travel? Are hairspray bangs enough (specifically Kirsten Dunst’s lack of them in On Becoming a God in Central Florida)? As the editorial table moves through space-time in our usual fashion, starting off in 1991, Sarah St. Vincent gives us a feeling of the WWE moments of intimacy which make, as Jason says with some Hulk Hogan gusto, YOUR BODY SING WITH PAIN! The spectacle of boxing and the compelling stillness of combat reminds Marion of Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s poetry book, “Apocalyptic Swing.” If you’re hearing the poem twice, that’s not ringing in your cauliflower ears! This episode, we take some cues from Pádraig Ó Tuama’s “Poetry Unbound” series by reading, discussing, and then reading again. Repetition, both in words and time loops, seems to be the theme here with Karolina Zapal sliding in more than a few ‘I love you’s into her poem. Calling all Grammar Slushies: What is the term for doubling up on words?

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 

Sarah St. Vincent

Sarah St.Vincent is a human rights lawyer by day and poet by night (or very early morning). Her debut novel, Ways to Hide in Winter, was published in 2018, and she currently directs a clinic at Cornell University that provides computer security advice to domestic violence survivors. She's originally from that swingin'-est of swing states, Pennsylvania, and lives in Brooklyn.

Sarah’s Twitter handle is @Sarah_StVincent. 

Karolina Zapal

Karolina Zapal is an itinerant poet, essayist, translator, and author of two books: Notes for Mid-Birth (Inside the Castle, 2019) and Polalka (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). As an immigrant and activist writer, she writes frequently about her native Poland, languages, borders, and women’s rights. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Rumpus, Inverted Syntax, Tupelo Quarterly, The Seventh Wave, Mantis, Posit, and others. She has completed three artist residencies: Greywood Arts in Killeagh, Ireland; Brashnar Creative Project in Skopje, Macedonia; and Bridge Guard in Štúrovo, Slovakia. She works at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities.


Facebook: karolina.zapal

Instagram: Karoissunshine

Twitter: KarolinaZapal

At the Table: Jason Schneiderman, Kathleen Volk Miller, Samantha Neugebauer, Marion Wrenn, & Alex Tunney

Episode 93: Go Away & Come Home

Episode 93: Go Away & Come Home

September 28, 2021

In anticipation of the Collingswood Book Festival, we thought it might be nice to have some of our senior editors and a couple of festival participants sit down for a proper chat about poetry and community, the anonymity of sending work out into the void and the anonymity of masks, and of course, bears and bathrobes.

Enjoy and let us know what you think! Has the pandemic made writing more universal or melted our minds so terribly that our relationship to literature has changed? Will readings stay virtual and/or can we find a happy relationship between Zoom and IRL?

This episode includes these special guests:

Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) from Northwestern University Press, and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (2016) from Thread Makes Blanket Press. A recipient of the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize and the Leeway Transformation Award, her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, The Rumpus, PANK, Guernica, ESPNW, and elsewhere. In collaboration with Philadelphia Contemporary, Friends of the Rail Park, and Asian Arts Initiative, her experimental poem, Future Revisions, was exhibited at the Rail Park billboard in Philadelphia from July to August 2021. She has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and is a 2021-2022 Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, MA. She is originally from Bali, Indonesia. 

Rogan Kelly is the author of Demolition in the Tropics (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in New Orleans Review, The Penn Review, Plume, RHINO, and elsewhere. He is the editor of The Night Heron Barks and Ran Off With the Star Bassoon.

We thought we’d include our bio’s here, since we never do:

Jason Schneiderman is the author of four books of poems, most recently Hold Me Tight (Red Hen 2020) and Primary Source (Red Hen 2016). He edited the anthology Queer: A Reader for Writers (Oxford UP 2016). His poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, VQR, The Believer, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet; he is a co-host of the podcast Painted Bride Quarterly Slush Pile. His awards include the Shestack Award and a Fulbright Fellowship. He is an Associate Professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. 

Kathleen Volk Miller has written for LitHub, NYT Modern Love, O, the Oprah magazine, Salon, the NYTimes, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Family Circle, Philadelphia Magazine and other venues. “How We Want to Live,” an essay, was chosen as the penultimate piece in Oprah’s Book of Starting Over (Flat Iron Books, Hearst Publications, 2016). She is co-editor of the anthology, Humor: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press, 2014). She is co-editor of The Painted Bride Quarterly and co-host of PBQ’s podcast, Slush Pile. She has also published in literary magazines, such as Drunken Boat, Opium, and other venues. She holds “Healing through Writing” and “Writing and Neuroplasticity” workshops, and other memoir classes. She consults on literary magazine start up, working with college students, and getting published in literary magazines.  She is a professor at Drexel University. 

Marion Wrenn is Director of the Writing Program; Senior Lecturer of Writing and Literature and Creative Writing at NYU Abu Dhabi. Marion C. Wrenn is a media critic, cultural historian, and literary editor who writes essays and creative non-fiction. She earned her PhD from NYU’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and has received grants and awards from NYU, the AAUW, and the Rockefeller Archive Center.  Recent work on satirical news and citizen audiences have appeared in Poetics. Her essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, South Loop Review, and elsewhere. She co-edits the literary journal Painted Bride Quarterly ( and has taught writing at NYU, Parsons, and the Princeton Writing Program. 

This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist  A.M.Mills, whose song “Spaghetti with Loretta” now opens our show. 

Episode 92: American Literature

Episode 92: American Literature

June 30, 2021

This episode is about allusions, Slushies. How do poems gain dimension by relying on references? Where is that ekphrastic sweet spot?  Listen in as we focus on the poems of July Westhale. Under the influence of her work, we talk glass flowers, ghost towns, road trips, and snow. Here are links to a few of the references and allusion we make on the show, inspired by Westhale’s way of seeing the world:  This is America; “My Mother is a Fish”; Teresa Leo’s Junkie; and ee cumminings [i carry your heart with me]


With thanks to one of our sponsors,  Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show. 

At the table:

Samantha Neugebauer, Alex Tunney, Kathleen Volk Miller, Jason Schneiderman, and Marion Wrenn


July Westhale is an essayist, translator, and the award-winning author of Trailer Trash, and Via Negativa, which Publishers Weekly called "stunning" in a starred review. Her most recent work can be found in McSweeney’s, The National Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, CALYX, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Huffington Post, among others. She also has an inventively-named collection of salty chapbooks. When she’s not teaching, she works as a co-founding editor of PULP Magazine.




Rotten Apples Return to Harvard's Glass Flowers Exhibition


What you have heard is true—

something rotten once got us

from our houses, from our beds

where what was there may

or may not have been.


Remember, my darling, my sweet,

that a blistered and blackened

thing, a thing representing life/

sin itself, was a cause for art.

Gave a man, many men,

a lineage of pride.


The moon rose tonight as usual,

no spore-filled scab. As ivory

as the cut belly of an apple

sliced to share. Nothing noxious

to point to, say you.


The world of museums and love

are, as it turns out, through the machinations

and designations of man-made things,

defined by abstractions: Security,

beauty, even, in our worst days.


One day, Blaschka told his son, yes


American Literature


for Joey


“the silver lamp,--the ravishment, --the wonder--the darkness,--loneliness, the fearful thunder” John Keats


There’s a billboard with the route 66’s version of June Cleaver, holding a pie underneath block letters HO-MADE PIES, which is how dry towns get their jollies, I guess.


We buy coffee in cups so thin the joe becomes us and we never regain our human shapes, and I say to you I wonder where they keep the half-bull man and you shotgun back I’ve spent my life asking that like the sharp shooter you are.


Who wouldn’t want to be the son of a bull and a damned woman

we are all sons of bull and damn


     you’ve gone West to find everything or me


and look at girls the way I look at girls who are bad for me. Like a desert

through slatternly windows. This is America: the big-pricked statues statuary in their old-growth knowing:

in the end--spoiler alert--we’re both after the wrong bandit, the bank gets robbed, the two women who should be lovers but aren’t arc their Caddie like a rainbow into the lavish vaginal canyon at the last moment, the whale gets away, Faulkner’s pretend mother doesn’t get the burial she deserves, we have to choose between Liz Taylor in a kerchief or James Dean with his shirt stuttered open, and we can’t---


moon moon


Now there’s snow on the ocean, which is meant to confuse us

and does, though not because we are unprepared for it

but rather because the sight of it reminds us

of the static-hearted parts of our bodies as they prostrate

themselves in years-over-yonder: exploratory attempts

to find warmth—not unlike a surefooted expedition—,

in the disappearance of everything ripe—now covered

with snow’s annihilating speeches—, in the blank stares

of our children as they amputate themselves

from us, in the cloudscape of come forgotten to be enjoyed,

on the snow of a down comforter at which we’d first begun

(circle back to exhibit A), in the cold expanse following

the question am I like winter to you, in the unspooling

that happens when we, I, I mean I play a memory

over again for the too-many-ith time, in the television’s

convex and prudish eye, in the snowy sound of over-use,

in the way empty feels like brain-freeze, in the brilliant

and nearly-neon white of the sign which mourns vacancy

even if everyone around us says off-season, says they love


the snow, the way it makes well-conquered land possible again.




You’d never guess it (oh, good, a game!),

but here we are many days without our bouncing

blue ball, our terrestrial ball and chain, our baby

planet—not even a note as it slipped from the rearview.

Now a footnote in a book that, were we on said earth,

a man would walk door to door to sell as a collection:

The History of Aquamarine, Abridged. But we are not earthlings

any longer, with no taxonomical replacement in sights. Stars

coronate the endless black, winging it, and here we are:

the most select, the most tourist. The most inclined

to shoot the earth for the moon’s moon, to go nil,

to bankrupt because it is the most American thing to do,

though America was left behind, no matter nationality—

only the home, the journey to and from.

  Let us not

seek solace from the callousness of quietude, for it is what exiled us.

Episode 91: Daydream Believer

Episode 91: Daydream Believer

June 9, 2021

Daydream Believer


Listen in as pop culture, nostalgia, and formal craft converge in a discussion of poems by Jeff Royce. As of this recording “we are not the epicenter,” but it feels as if we have all the time in the world as the pandemic spirals on just outside the sound of our voices. Royce has us remembering The Monkeys and Lava Lamps, recalling Larkin’s famous insight that “They F&^% you up, your mum and dad,” and imagining angel trumpets and panthers (both Rilke’s famous panther poem and Teju Cole “On The Blackness of the Panther”). It’s all about resonances and craft, slushies. (Or resonances and interventions:  Dear Queer Eye crew, Kathleen needs a home-office resurrection!). If you are looking for more fabulousness, Kathleen recommends two podcasts, Jonathan Van Ness’ “Getting Curious” and Sam Sanders’ “It’s Been a Minute.” Samantha suggests the film Now and Then. Jason is loving Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl


This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist A.M.Mills. The song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” opens our show. 


Jeff Royce lives and teaches in South Florida. He is elaborately married with two refreshingly complicated daughters, though he is less enthusiastic about the two dogs and fat lizard who also live with him.  Jeff was social distancing before it was cool.


At the Table:  Jason Schneiderman, Samantha Neugebauer, Kathleen Volk Miller, & Marion Wrenn







Her chirps and caterwauling are

the echoes of an empty sanctuary.

She lowers her stare, pulls back

the fat of her mouth, but the growl


rumbles in from another pen.

Thunderheads build on backs

of roseate spoonbills, restless

in the next enclosure.


Their pink shadows and the stink

of flamingo shit are enough to remind me

my heart is a muscle.


Near the reptile house, wooden manatees

drift on an ocean of organs.

The music is coming from somewhere else.





Man hands on misery to man.

  It deepens like a coastal shelf.

                                                   --Phillip Larkin


It began with horseradish in her mashed potatoes,

her father slipping it in before dinner.

(It began much earlier I suppose.


But this is my mother we’re talking about, younger and thinner

and unaware that fathers can be cruel.)

She dove in without sniffing, and since that day something within her


grew guarded and deep. They met in high school--

my father and she, I mean. She let him kiss her breasts

only through her shirt, so he imagined each one a jewel.


Think of the let down when he saw them undressed,

not cut as he’d expected them to be,

not flawless as the ones he had caressed


under her blouse. He learned to live with them, though; he

learned how not to ask for very much,

to ignore her responsibly.


Her body arched, in dark, under his touch.

They fumbled dutifully until it hurt.

My brother soon was born, a crutch


to hold my mother up. But he wouldn’t wear a skirt.

She cried until her shoes were damp,

and my father taught him how to play in dirt.


Let’s try again, she begged--words pressing like a stamp

on my brother’s soft head--and I, too,

was pushed into this world like a rudderless tramp.


I’ll never know for sure if this is true.





I have this 1960’s sitcom desire

to frolic on the back lawn.

Our shirts will be fashioned after white sides

of ranch style houses.

Our hearts will take shapes

of plastic Adirondack chairs.

The kids can blow bubbles that’ll satellite the shed

like little acrylic space shuttles.

In the linen-scented afternoon, the backward-stumbling sunlight

will brighten angel trumpets,

drooping polished shuttlecocks

swinging like clean sheets in the here-&-there breeze.

& I’ll pick one for you, & you’ll remark

that the day has smelled just like a fresh haircut,

then you’ll kiss my cheek with the same precision

with which you clip coupons

& the girls, giddy from so much Frisbee,

will roll their eyes & mock our tenderness,

& we’ll chase them & they will feign terror

& scream like they mean it,

& we’ll prolong their terror by pretending to just miss them,

but eventually we’ll tackle them & splash onto the lawn

which has always been just weeds.

We’ll lie there breathing for a while, the four of us,

our heads forming a circle in a way

I imagine might have made an excellent cover for a Monkeys album,

before one of us, probably me, will spot the vultures circling,

not menacingly, but in a shiftless, existential sort of way,

drifting on lava-lamp currents, & I’ll note

how they resemble jets, not in shape

but in the way how we feel about them flies out in front of our voices.

& then someone, probably you, will say,

We are, after all, sitting in weeds, & I’ll say,

What? & the girls will squeal & scramble to the badly cracked patio

where they’ll pick beggar ticks from one another’s backs,

& by now it’s dusk dark

& a fat tarantula moon is crawling up over purplish clouds.

Then, Shit, what’ll we do about dinner?

&, Papa, I still have homework to finish!

& Goddamnit, why are you crying? Stop crying!

& you tell me we don’t even have an angel trumpet tree,

& your breath smells like sparklers,

& the sparklers, in the black air, are scrawling something

that vanishes before I can get it.

I don’t get it, I say, & you say,

You never get it, & I say,

Just go to bed, you can do it in the morning.

& I put a movie on so we can all sleep

& we eat popcorn & freezer pops for dinner, & I tell the kids,

That’s life, & they’re like,


Episode 90: Je Recuse! The Poems of Charlie Clark

Episode 90: Je Recuse! The Poems of Charlie Clark

May 25, 2021

This episode is all about craft and connections:  literary craft and professional connections. In the notoriously small world of poetry and creative writing, should editors recuse themselves from making editorial decisions? Things get wonderfully complicated when you know a poet— be it from grad school, from a workshop, from a conference. Or from dressing up in potentially crass Halloween costumes. (Listen for further confirmation that Jason and Kathy are soul mates via their 90s -era matching Princess Diana getups, complete with steering wheel as accessory and pals playing paparazzi). In addition to the nuances of professional ethics in poetry land, we talk sonnets and the divided self as we discuss 2 poems by Charlie Clark. Clark’s archive of references ranges widely—from Death Grips to inept gladiators to the power of grammar and etymology to charm readers. At one point we’re making rock n’ roll hand gestures to indicate his poem’s caesuras; at another we’re mesmerized by the way Clark works within the confines of  14 lines right under our noses. If you like what you hear, Clark’s new book of poetry The Newest Employee of the Museum of Ruin will be published by Four Way Books later this year.


At the table:

Samantha Neugebauer, Jason Schneiderman, Alex Tunney, Kathleen, and Marion Wrenn


This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show. 


Charlie Clark studied poetry at the University of Maryland. His work has appeared in New England Review, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, and other journals. A 2019 NEA fellow, he is the author of The Newest Employee of the Museum of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2020). He lives in Austin, TX.


You can find him on Facebook.


The Beast I Worship



I light my torch and burn it.

I am the beast I worship.

—Death Grips, “Beware”



The beast I worship doesn’t blame


the tree for its lithe, expanding


glamour, yet beneath a sky full of blue


kingfishers crying tears from the tree


the placard with its Latin name


laid out in a lush calligraphy


and as many as he can reach


of the narrow green articulations of spring


starting to feel their way into the air;


before he finally takes leave completely,


the beast I worship climbs in and sets the whole thing


burning down. The beast I worship


offers meek relief. What sometimes feels like


beauty sometimes feels like grief.



Address To That Inept Gladiator Timorous



  1. Supposing the Futility of Language as a Means of Protecting Oneself from Harm



Your armor amounts to the skin of some very large dead beasts,


yet you retain such glamour. If you don’t know the word,


that’s because the Scots hadn’t yet invented it. There wasn’t enough


enchanting mist strewn on even a rainy Roman summer morn


to veil the parts your opponent hoped to hack from you. Had there been,


had a cloud become the air around you, had you survived and done it in this way,


had the poets seen this and gone crazy, probably you still would have been


stuffed back into your cage, fed no more gruel than usual by the mulch-


hearted man who ran the place before next week’s show where he’d charge double


for all the people eager to see some new brute cut your meek gray swarm in two.


Pardon, please, these aimless suppositions. Did you know glamour


is only a corruption of grammar ? This proves nothing but the impossibility


of any word’s use to the dead. No word will build a door out of air


and let you step safely through it before it grammars shut.



  1. Concerning the Awfulness of Audiences Across Time



Should you somehow fast-forward through millennia, it would likely be


the sons of paper-product scions laughing at your harm. They will be no less noxious


than whoever watches you now. before I waste our time trying to explain the value


of flowered vines embroidered on what people wipe up grape-juice spills and urine with,


let me just call them rags. It is a sound so plain I hope it makes sense no matter what


the tongue or age. It’s rags the audience throws at you, not that they want to offer salves


or congratulations; they simply want to throw things at you and rags are the cheapest thing


on hand. Were I to acknowledge that the word audience existed in your tongue,


what would that matter, except for how it meant something more like listening then,


which means irony existed then too, as some hack-eared opponent hollowed out your mouth


and to slow the bleeding you filled it with the audience’s rags, the loosened red thread-ends


of some drifting in the wind from your mouth toward the lords drunk at center court,


who hear only their own voices naming which next portions of your body they have


paid good money to see your rivals cleave?



  1. Cataloging Some of what Awaits Him After the Morning’s Dogs Are Done



Heaven is an archive full of friends


whose legs have been restored. You can walk


with them through the ever-longing haze and regather


the other parts both they and you had scattered,


heads and brains and arms and tongues and eyes,


the eyes most especially, because there is so much


now that you are out of the arena’s daily dust and blight,


out of the darkness of its catacombs; there is so much now


for you to gaze at, it is worth acknowledging


the Norseman who would, drunk at sea some mist-


decked century hence, invent the verb to gaze as a variant


of to gape, what does not describe a wound exactly


but does suggest a body breached as well as it does awe,


which in this heaven’s tongue is infinite.

Episode 89: Bloomwards & Eggsome

Episode 89: Bloomwards & Eggsome

April 26, 2021



April 28, 2020

Bloomwards & Eggsome


What’s your background, Slushies? Sounds like a loaded question, right? But it’s really a reference to your choice of green-screen background Zoomery. This episode opens with a larking conversation about our current delight in Zoom’s capacity to allow us to upload virtual backgrounds for our physical spaces. (The discussion of poems starts at 8:01 if you want to skip the banter). Kathleen’s surrounded by tulips (while she’s actually holed up in her 3rd floor garret, with a dormer ceiling making her look like Alice in Wonderland). Jason is perched in front of IRL bookcases. Samantha is podcasting with her kitchen over her shoulder. Opting for a plain white wall, Marion nonetheless dons a seriously fringed top in honor of Jason’s signature leather jacket. And Alex Tunney, long-time PBQ editor inducted by our dear pal Daniel Nester a million years ago, joins the podcast for the first time and rocks a Piet Mondrian background. (Nicely done!). All of which serves as a perfect set up for an episode dedicated to poems submitted by Kailey Tedesco. Tedesco’s poems are full of magic and mysticism, shadows and spells. Her work moves across a range of styles—from an ekphrastic poem inspired by Hilma af Klint’s magnificent paintings to a reconfiguration of creepy childhood legends (like Bloody Mary) while playing with forms. We were drawn to the process-based mysticism, speculative feminism, and feminist horror coming through these poems. And Kathleen jumped in and read #7, because…#7.




Recommended Reading:

Marion’s raving about Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other


Samantha’s loving Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir, In the Dream House


Jason’s devouring Brenda Shaughnessy’s So Much Synth


And we are supremely grateful for the poetry of Eavan Boland, who passed the day before we recorded this episode. Here is her masterful poem, “Quarantine.” 


This episode is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show. 

At the table:

Kathleen Volk Miller, Jason Schneiderman, Marion Wrenn, Samantha Neugebauer, 

and Alex Tunney

Kailey Tedesco is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing), Lizzie, Speak, and the forthcoming collection, FOREVERHAUS (White Stag Publishing). She is a senior editor for Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her work in Electric Literature, Fairy Tale Review, Gigantic Sequins, and more. 


Her Instagram & Twitter is @kaileytedesco



  1. 7 adulthood

after Hilma af Klint


you’ll remember me 

as a zygote

scrambling towards


on its haunches; i grow

bloomwards. my teeth


on the front lawn 

during the violet

hour, spelling

spells disguised 

as poems.

hermit to hermit;

we kiss 

to form 

a single nautilus,


divinity. tell me

when was it 

you last 

heard from

your spirit? 

my guides 

have abducted 

me quite 


from the tulips

i’ve found myself

asleep in. 

it is all but

true; my eggs 

have clasped

in my womb 

like pearls. 

my intention 

is not to create


but death.

though, i misspoke —

my true intention is 

to create

life out of death. 

find me in the portal 

on the left, right next

to the electric 

fences of my 

darknesses, all 


inside the beheaded apartment


the sky whispers something eggsome then breaks its rain, thick & frozen. i crave the cigarettes 

i’ve never smoked; not marlboro. i picture you before the time everything could kill you, glamour


in your beehive & twiggy dress, smoke haloing the mini-chandeliers. i beckon for you 

to gemstone through me, egyptology — my lipstick glyphs on the edges of your sink. there are 


teeth in the walls, did you know that? whole fangs, pulled clean at the root, & toenails, too, 

flaking from the ceiling. i lived with estate sale busts of nefertiti, estate sale victorian lace, 


bagged & labeled with the year, estate sale chaises of green velvet. green because it reminds 

me of france, where i have never been, but where the sun is a vintage wallpaper. in the window 


across the way, women in mourning bonnets have st. columba hands holding tight 

to the dogs in their rosary chains. the plexi glass cracks in the shape of a crown or witch hat. there 


is no bathroom but the one with the freckled clawfoot. the cats have become anxious with the 

roach-scroll of the floorboards. we say they perform theatrical productions  — one ophelia, 


lounging in wet lavender sogging the carpet-shag, one desdemona, clawing at tissue for 

handkerchiefs. something is crawling in me, teeth in the walls of boning. i wear the whole house


that used to be yours like a corset. this place is no good for us, i tell your lack of existence. all 

the bodily fluids of every other tenant filth me — all the living hosts whispering in tune with the 


mold water-logging my pillows. bring me my peacock & she-bear, my estate sale saints. it is time i sic them on my landlords, bring back your sight & my seeing. i shall go ahead 


and make my own kingdom out of deadbolts.

bloody mary x 3 


there goes my top skull jack-in-the-boxing from your suzy-talks-a-lot eyelids. maybe i’ve been dead a long time. maybe i’ve been dead never ever. live with me forever in the medicine cabinet


where my limbs smoke ring doll-wards through your own reflection. spinning my head 

all the way around is what i do for a pageant talent. every time you call my name, 


you put a knife in it—my face wounds towards yours. i become nothing but a blood-aura 

on your tooth fairy bedding. unlike yours, my wedding gown will lack knuckle-buttons & i envy. 


you should have made me more opulent in the story where i’m saint-corpsed with gumball rings on every finger. let me live display-cased at the dead mall, cradling the body you’ve made us.  


i’ll hold you too, if you’d like. we can lace together, spine glued to spine, a jar of our parts 

now puzzled. then my head, free by comparison, can decapitate & become a locket 


facing the wrong way. the backstage of night is what i’d like to see most—everything zombifying from the dirt of sky.  i see the same stars as you.


there goes my head. i’m coming back to life.  


An array of relevant links: 


Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim


And here is the Guggenheim on No. 7 Adulthood:


(Or this link, too, for more images)

The legend of Bloody Mary


And scienced up:

Episode 88:  Life on Screen, or “Podcats”

Episode 88: Life on Screen, or “Podcats”

April 8, 2021


Courtesy of

Frida Khalo’s 1946 oil painting The Wounded Deer



Dear Slushies, on this episode we focus on the heart of literary editing and pose the age-old question: “What do you like when you like what you like?” We also break our own rules on this episode of The Slush Pile. Instead of flipping our thumbs at the end of each poem we’re scheduled to consider, we decide to discuss a group of poems by Shari Caplan as a suite. She submitted three poems about the female gaze, and we’re mesmerized by them. With Kathleen, Samantha, and Marion at the table, it’s an all-female crew discussing three of Kaplan’s poems, each one focusing on a powerful woman who worked in and with images: artist Frida Kahlo, psychoanalytic film theorist Laura Mulvey, and Lee Miller (check her out in “Lee Miller: In Hitler’s Bathtub.”) Listen in as we consider Kaplan’s ekphrastic project as she creates these experimental monologues. We’re flying by the seat of our collective pants, trying to muster what we know about Kahlo, Miller, and Mulvey, half recalling Maya Deren’s surrealist short film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and trying to accurately summarize Mulvey’s supremely influential essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” all the while recalling Dali’s three flying cats, and being serenaded by Sam’s cat Bowie while being observed by Marion’s cat Imia, who joined us at the editorial table. “Dear Pandemic Diary, Day 79, our animals want in on the editorial process. We want to call them ‘Podcats.’ Someone should intervene.”


With thanks to one of our sponsors,  Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show. 




Author Bio

Shari Caplan is the siren behind "Advice from a Siren" (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have swum into Gulf Coast, Nonbinary Review, Masque & Spectacle, Tinderbox, Deluge, and more. Caplan's work has earned her a scholarship to the Home School in Hudson, NY, a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. You may encounter her as "Betty BOOM: America's Sweettart" giving intimate readings as part of the Poetry Society of New York's Poetry Brothel or ring-leading the Poetry Circus, an in-character immersive event she produces.





Instagram: @sharic88


Plus, Marion’s cat insists on a seat at the table.  





The Works

"Frida Kahlo (on Frida Kahlo) on the Female Gaze"


Comparison fragments the green-gold of my body. Nothing compares.


As a woman, I see a deer in an arrow forest with my face on and hear palpitating hooves across dry needles. As a deer, I see a woman poking her paint into my wound. What do you see, Diego?


You were called Auxochrome the one who captures (color). I Chromophore — the one who gives. Friendly reds, big blues, hands of leaves, noisy birds, fingers in. Flowers cackle at my ear. Can the female gaze grow fruit in a pick-axe climate?


As a woman, my fingers touch blood. You may have seen it undisguised in the bathroom. As a deer, my blood touches fingers and arrowheads. You might have mistaken it for paint. You may use it.


As a deer, I retain my eyebrows to express the paths of my nerves, which are yours. As a painting, I multiply into flowers and a mountain because my eyes blanket rivers and roots.


I don’t see a mountaintop. The mountain held in the veins of the sky.



"Lee Miller on The Female (Gaze)"


Don’t! melt until I’ve lit you.


Covered to the neck. A sheet to morph you, size the shine on your

 - don’t!




Now, topless


in the metal chair, like an uncorked bottle. Cross

at the elbows, look down at the ants.


Don’t –

           cavort until I’ve snapped. We’ll have some when he’s over. Come under. An object


could fall on top of you at any moment. It might be              a person.


Tar stretches like a bird’s foot. Maybe life’s a nude


            picnic, then the tar comes in with the tide and I’m dyed


blue, wearing a net. I can take my own

pictures, thank you. I can deal with some glare.


If you’re thinking,

 it’s not my place        to guess what. Maybe this      dead coral you’re posing with


puts your father in your head. Maybe a dead

pillow or a case packed. Hide it        


behind your face.



"Laura Mulvey on the (fe)Male Gaze"


A bear turned to a lounging place.


Instead of unspooling story

the fe/male leans in her lack

/light against the paradox

of phallocentrism.


Bear/er of the bloody

wound. Subject by being



To exit/exist, she must thwart

the male ailment, fuck Freud.


Virgin/Vixenhood fantasies.

Ropes hissing the bedframe.

All the men I know want to do it.







How does the bearskin rug become a bear again?

Episode 87: “The Speaker is Clearly a French Fry”

Episode 87: “The Speaker is Clearly a French Fry”

March 29, 2021

How big is an alligator heart, Slushies? Have seen the wingspan of a Sand Hill Crane (a bird once mistaken for the Jersey Devil)? And what happens when you put Mentos in your soda? Life and its peculiarities, its soaring losses and aching beauty, and its utter, utter absurdity come barreling at us in “a flood of images” in Ryan Bollenbach’s poems, 2 of which we consider on today’s episode. Bollenbach has us recalling Willem Defoe at Sgt. Elias in Oliver Stone’s Platoon and envisioning Florida’s “serrated coast.”  Cue Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” Bollenbach’s second poem “My Lover Squawk Squawks and then Explodes” demands we take it on face value; the title is on point. Listen for a fabulous meta-reading and feel the way the poem wants you, too, to be Seagull.  We couldn’t resist – a la Dillard’s “Living Like Weasels”-- and spun out into our own squawking flock. Listen in as we welcome longtime member of the PBQ fam Warren Longmire to the podcast. His good work has a wide reach these days, keeping poetry thriving via The Nick Virgilio Writer's House and Blue Stoop.

Poetry discussion starts at 3:30


Author Bio

Ryan Bollenbach is a writer with an MFA from University of Alabama's creative writing program where he formerly served as the poetry editor for Black Warrior Review. He reads for SweetLit: A Literary Confection and Heavy Feather Review. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Timber, Colorado Review, smoking glue gun, Bayou and elsewhere. Find his tweets @SilentAsIAm, more writing @




The Works 

"Adagio For Strings"

No one wanted this smoke. Not Willem Dafoe or the albatross
Whose wings Willem borrowed as splint for his splayed arms
As if real bullets ripped through him. Not the wisteria
Planting its tendrils on the ground’s sweaty palm
Like the sun taking pennies as a return investment on heat.
I drove my truck at forty miles per hour over the grey-blue asphalt
And looked into the eyes of some Sandhill Crane
Crossing the road unfazed by the wind whipping off my steel bumper.
On the radio, there was a composer giving a talk about the hope he found
In the last note of Sam Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.”
As if of body memory, Mark’s corpse rose from a bare patch of sand
On the side of Interstate 75! As is of body memory,
Chris’s corpse rose from the gated-in parking lot
Of a pain management center in Northeast Tampa!
The ground swallowed every traffic sign in immune system response
After swallowing them both on the same road.
I drive that interstate northbound to escape the gulf and the ocean
Overtaking Florida’s serrated coasts. I keep only the smoke,
The Blackhawk’s wingspan, and the violin notes
Piled on top of each other like bodies to be burned. I remember
The way the Sand Hill Crane did not flinch.
I cannot put my tongue around that.
Under the trees where I slipped into dreams, I woke skewered
By what the composer said, and the question the crane’s eye’s asked in response.
From my morning stomach, I pulled speakers made of the hearts of the alligators I have eaten.
Placing them in between the saw palm bushes, I started them
Broadcasting “Adagio for Strings” in a staggered order. 
In the clearing, there were bushes of Pentas and Evolvus
In the shape of soldiers kneeling to the sound. There were squirrels kneeling.
Snakes bending their bodies to kneel. Bobcats kneeling.
Chris kneeling. Mark kneeling. The dusk sun made shadows
Of the withered tops of trees. The wind blew its violin trills
And all the hearts I planted fell on their side in unison,
Restarted in unison from the top. Just as the shadows started to grow,
Blue smoke rose from the grasses.



"My Lover Squawk Squawks and Then Explodes"

We spent the morning before just talking.

He said your body is slick like construction equipment, how it can move the sand to make a runway for my unhurried strut.

He said your body is like a French fry on a laminated paper plate.

In the high noon sun, I said you have a survivor’s disposition. It makes you gray.

Slick and survivor made us think of our own days of darkness, his coated in motor oil on the gulf coast in search of something white, mine coated in olive oil, garlic, sea salt tears and smooth jazz.

I told him his gray feathers and white food made me think of marbles.

I told him that it seemed odd that he prefers dark drinks when we come out to the beach like this.

He sipped his diet soda and said you just don’t understand, but I saw the white shining in the furthest reaches of his black eyes, that look as if he was already gone.

He walked toward me for a kiss, then changed direction. Sprinted to the white pearl beached in the sand.

I yelled to him as he passed me that I could see how, after living in all that oil, the clean sand, the white, could feel romantic, but inside I was hurt. 

He picked the piece from the sand with an instinctual fervor then gave a soul-curdling squawk. 

He swallowed the Mentos and exploded like a fourth of July firework over Coney Island.


At the table:

Warren Longmire, Addison Davis, Jason Schneiderman, Kathleen Volk Miller, Samantha Neugebauer, Marion Wrenn, &  Joe Zang


This episode happy to thank sponsor Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” opens our show. 

Episode 86: Sonograms, Vanity & Truman Capote

Episode 86: Sonograms, Vanity & Truman Capote

December 20, 2020

Dramatic tension in this episode, slushies! “There are no ties in baseball,” but what are the rules for editorial meetings? What happens when the editorial board splits?  Do we flip thumbs, thumb wrestle, or rely on another voice to make the choice? Marion joins us from her “transitional liminal space” in the Marlton Hotel in NYC, while Kathleen and Addison call in from Drexel University, and Jason from his Brooklyn home. We launch into three poems by Sarah Best, an assortment of vivid, imagistic pieces referring to everything from sonograms, vanity, Truman Capote, and “coffee served in mason jars.” In the midst of such scenes, we talk regional accents: Warsh & moisturize—the morning ablutions. We discover that “Context” is king when we mistake the poet’s reference to The Master Builder in her poem "Extended Shots and Long Takes" (27:53) for a reference to a reality TV show rather than the Ibsen play and Demme’s 2013 adaptation, A Master Builder. And we delve knee-deep into the myth of Echo & Narcissus, the namesake for the poet’s second poem Narcissus (13:07). At the end of the podcast we fall into a discussion of the seeming rule-less-ness of Gaelic rugby, marvel at the size of rugby players’ thighs, and ponder the relative legality of edibles in Texas, finally coming away with the mantra: Exfoliate and Moisturize, slushies! Especially “inna winner time.”  


At the table: Kathleen, Addison, Jason, Marion, Samantha



3:10 ‘Echo’ 

12:27 Team vote

13:07 ‘Narcissus’ 

26:05 Team vote

27:53 ‘Extended Takes and Long Shots’

38:50 Team vote

Caitlyn Jenner and Baked Alaska (or When Thumbs Cry)

Caitlyn Jenner and Baked Alaska (or When Thumbs Cry)

August 31, 2020

Dear Slushies, have you ever heard a theremin? Visited Utah? Tried a baked Alaska? Join us for an episode dedicated to poems by Natasha Sajé, whose work explores belonging, queerness, & womanhood in a flow of humour, insight, and vivid images. In “Dear Utah,” Sajé takes us on a trip through her connection with her now-familiar state, which she “complained about for one-third of [her] life”. “Is Homosexuality Contagious?” directly addresses the reader as it contemplates homosexuality, politics, and the way other people's Baked Alaska commands our attention. Finally, “Dear Catilyn Jenner” stops the show. Listen in as the editors collectively lose it.  It’s goosebumps and tears in an episode in which the editors wear matching tunics and Jason’s thumbs cry. If you can't wait to get right into the poems, you can skip to the 4 minute mark.

At the table: Marion Wrenn, Kathy Volk Miller, Jason Schneiderman, Samantha Neugebauer, and Joe Zang

This episode is brought to you by our sponsor Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show.

Episode 84: Hot Pants & Sneeze Ghosts

Episode 84: Hot Pants & Sneeze Ghosts

August 4, 2020

It’s a rainy day in Philly, even rainier in NYC, and curiously blue in Abu Dhabi. We’re wondering whether you can OD on zinc, what’s happening on planet Saadiyat, and whether ghosts are real.  These poems are full of curious imagery, versatile movements and occasional hot-pants and sneeze-ghosts. We loved journeying through each one, which took us, “artfully all over the place.” We learned about Caroline Knox’s poems, cellist Miroslav Rastropovich’s work, and Culpeper’s Herbal. Thank you, James Grinwis!


This episode is brought to you by our sponsor Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show. 

Episode 83: Goodnight, Mary Magdalene

Episode 83: Goodnight, Mary Magdalene

June 21, 2020

Dear Slushies, join the PBQ crew (which includes a freshly-tenured Jason Schneiderman) for a pre-pandemic recording of our discussion of 3 poems by the wonderful Vasiliki Katsarou’s work. Be sure to read the poems on the page below as you listen.  They’ll require your eyes and ears-- and “a decoder ring.” The team has a grand old time explicating these artful poems. The muses are sprung and singing in us as we read and decide on this submission. Katsarou’s poems teach us to read them without projecting too much of ourselves and our current preoccupations onto them. We’re reminded to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But synchronicities abound! Before we know it we’re ricocheting off of the poems’ images and noting the wonderful convergences the poems trigger -  we hear traces of Wallace Stevens “Idea of Order of Key West” or Auden’s Musee de Beaux Arts. (But first we check in with each other, cracking each other up in a pre-pandemic moment of serious lightness. We’re heard that “Science” shows Arts & Humanities majors make major money in the long run. Kathy reports that “the data on success” shows that participation in Nativity Plays is a marker for career success. Samantha confesses she played Mary Magdalene in a Nativity Play. Marion might have been a Magi. And many of us were reindeer.. Also, Donkeys do better than sheep over time (which may or may not have been claimed on “Wait, wait… don’t tell me!”).  Editing a Lit Mag shouldn’t be this much fun, Slushies. Listen through to the discussion of the 3rd poem’s deep magic and craft. And listen to our editors’ cats chime in).

Addison Davis, Jason Schneiderman, Samantha Neugebauer, Kathleen Volk Miller,  Marion Wrenn, and Joe Zang

Episode 82: “1-4-3″

Episode 82: “1-4-3″

May 12, 2020

Be warned. We love the writers who submit to PBQ, slushies. We love doing this podcast. And we love you; we love that you listen to us discuss and deliberate. In short, slushies, as Mister Rogers would say: “1-4-3.”  One. Four. Three. (I. L-o-v-e. Y-o-u). (Get it?!). We do. It’s hopeless. We’re hooked. 

We discuss 3 poems by James Pollock in this episode. Join us for this wonderfully raucous discussion of craft and precision, technology and point of view, and big ass fans™. Addison is sleep deprived (too much late night coffee). Jason is in his jammies (sleeping in after hosting KGB’s open mic Monday). Marion is a cheerful maniac in Abu Dhabi, and Samantha calls in from Dubai. 

Reminding us of Pinsky’s First Things to Hand, Pollock’s poems spin us around, bathe us with craft, and make us re-see things, especially the power of poetry. Yup: That sentence actually refers to all 3 of the seamlessly crafted poems Pollock shared with us--   “Ceiling Fan,” and “Shower,” and “Spectacles,”  And yup, by calling your attention to it, we just exposed our seams. (Ugh. Craft is hard. For poets and coffee roasters. “Form makes the language seem inevitable,” sayeth Jason (who is also “completely obsessed with tap water”). And great coffee should have a proper name. Ask KVM. Listen to the end of the show when she describes naming a new coffee for “Cup of Bliss” coffees in Collingswood, NJ. Spoiler: “Be My Neighbor!”).

At the table: Joe, KVM, Samantha, Addison, Jason, Marion

Episode 81: Dad Jokes & Happiness

Episode 81: Dad Jokes & Happiness

April 22, 2020

Well before we found ourselves in the COVID 19 pandemic, we had the sniffles on this episode, slushies. But neither head colds nor hangovers will keep us from the great pleasure of discussing Daryl Jones’ “Not Your Ordinary Doppleganger.” The poem’s gentle humor and delightful details have us in stitches:  the poem puts the “P” in poetry, the “P” in PBQ. (There is a badly delivered dad joke buried in that sentence, slushies, apologies-- trust us, the poem does it better). Listen in as: Jason reveals his mother was actively trying to gaslight him when he was 5; Samantha reveals the science of scent and stepmothers; and we trade Shakespearean puns and tips on slankets. All of which made us think about father and fatherhood, those we’ve had and those we miss. 

Daryl Jones recently retired from a career in academic administration and rediscovered the passion for writing that he had set aside more than twenty-five years ago, after receiving an NEA Fellowship, serving as Idaho Writer-in-Residence, and winning the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award from the Texas Institute of Letters for his book Someone Going Home Late. Since courting the muse again, he has published poems in The American Journal of Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

Episode 80: In Flux

Episode 80: In Flux

March 22, 2020

Coffee: a security blanket, health-hazard, and world-tilting device.

Hey slushies, today we’re discussing Frank X. Christmas’ poem “Coffee, Ice Cream.” But first! Alien business people are descending on Drexel’s cafeteria (“the place… where people eat?”) and our editors are braving malfunctioning footwear and costume parties. Much mayhem at the top of this episode, Slushies, so if you’re eager to check out the poem and the critique you can skip ahead to minute [11.35]. Frank X. Christmas’ poem is both surreal and nostalgic. Somehow it acts on us the way a good cup of coffee does: we feel a little bit separated from space and time. The editors discuss how it drags us into a reverie where everything spins and flows. We are in flux. They then debate about the age of the girl in the photograph and the ways time seems to have collapsed. There might be feelings of loss embedded in this work, but there is also warmth, comfort, and the sweetness of a vanilla scoop. After their discussion the editors lay out a few of their recent reads including The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and The Tradition by Jericho Brown. 

At the table: Marion Wrenn, Kathy Volk Miller, Jason Schneiderman, Samantha Neugebauer, Addison Davis, and Joe Zang.

F.X. Christmas, a lifelong New Englander, was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied accounting at Bentley College and journalism at Northeastern University. His poems and stories have appeared in Northwest Review, Seattle Review, Manoa, Gulf Stream, Midwest Quarterly, and other magazines. Today he is working on linked stories, longer manuscripts, and more verse. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, his daughter, and the family dog.

Episode 79: Do it again! Do it again!

Episode 79: Do it again! Do it again!

February 7, 2020

Hello Slushies! Today, we put the “pee” in PBQ when Jason reminds us not to over-hydrate (it’s a thing!). Marion is in the Philadelphia Studio and Samantha in Portland for the Tin House Summer Workshop, which triggers an epic donut-discussion. Must-try doughnuts: VooDoo Doughnuts in Portland, Federal Doughnuts in Philadelphia, and Dough in New York City.  After daydreaming about desserts, and resisting the bullying power of nutrition Apps, we dive into three poems by Tanya Grae. These poems are included in Grae’s book Undoll (YesYes Books, 2019).  All are ekphrastic, allusive, homage poems-- and we pour over the way Grae is adapts, innovates, remixes, and recreates poems across these poems.  We’re drawn to the layered conversation and formal prosody and synchronicity she sets up-- our thumbs are flipped, our heads are spun. The first is after Lorca’s “The Unfaithful Housewife” (translated by Conor O’Callaghan). The second is an intriguing and baffling poetic rant,  “Duchess, A Found Poem.” And the final, the tripendicular “Dear Ozy,” triggers the sound of thinking from the Slush Pile crew:  we ponder maps and palimpsests, spirals and dimensions, Google searches and precarious empires. Samantha reminds us that someone, maybe Twain, said “history doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes.” Associative spirals make this conversation a joy. 


Short bio:

Tanya Grae was born in South Carolina while her father was stationed at Shaw, and she grew up moving to random Air Force towns like Little Rock, Minot, Tucson, Panama City, and Homestead. This survivalist training prepared her for a litany of jobs, academia, and parenting three humans, two of whom are now adulting. Her debut poetry collection, Undoll, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in fall 2019 and was a National Poetry Series finalist. Her poems and essays have appeared in AGNI, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Post Road, and other journals. She now lives in Tallahassee with her youngest daughter who loves her despite her inability to help with advanced math, certain her mother’s attempts could bring about the apocalypse. Spotting bad store sign grammar is her superpower; kvetching about it is her weakness. Find out more at:


At the Table: Kathy, Marion, Brit, Jason, & Samantha 

Episode 78: It’s Brusque!

Episode 78: It’s Brusque!

December 17, 2019

It’s a beautiful fall day in the neighborhood, slushies. Kathy’s in love with the equinox, Jason’s in his bathrobe, Joe has a new porn name (“Brusque 80”), and Marion is in air-conditioned climate denial. (It’s always sunny in Abu Dhabi!).  

We kick off briskly with three poems by Blake Campbell.  “The right parts of the brain light up / for the wrong reasons” in Campbell’s “New Year” and our brains can’t stop sparking about the wonderful terribleness of a bad day. Editors spar over the poem’s potential meaning, threatening each other with Billy Joel lyrics, and delight over debating who’s naked, who is reinventing themselves, and who is caught up in a haunting season. 

We turn to “Chicken Hawk,” a long, skinny poem that surveys gay nightclub goers from self-depecating “vulture’s” point of view. From the NAMBLA documentary to Death in Venice, from unrequited lust to line breaks, we found lots to discuss. We talk otters. And bears. And Orville Peck. Addison says it best: the poem puts us in the club

“Dead Moonlight” is full of images that mesmerize-- and make us thumb wrestle. What lingers? What fractures?  What moves you-- or moves through you? What makes us love the poems we love? 

It’s a brusque ending, slushies, brusque. (Stay on til the end and give a listen to “At Pegasus” by Terrance Hayes at the end of the episode).

At the table: Kathleen Volk Miller, Addison Davis, Jason Schneiderman, and Joe Zang.

Blake Campbell grew up in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania and now lives near the sea in Salem, Massachusetts, where he works as an editor by day and a tour guide by night. He likes dogs and can tell a hummingbird from a hawk moth. His poems have appeared in, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, and Hawk & Whippoorwill, among other publications, and his chapbook Across the Creek is forthcoming from Pen & Anvil Press.

Episode 77: Belly-up!

Episode 77: Belly-up!

November 16, 2019

If you are like us, Slushies, then you love a good duality. We're hooked on the way "belly-up" can mean to be a flop and to roll in closer. So, belly-up to this episode where we discuss two poems by Judith Roney-- “Belly-up” and “Relictual Taxon.” After some laughs about how it’s easy to mistake our basement studio’s relative isolation as evidence of a Zombie apocalypse (and name our weapons of choice), we talk about Marion’s vertigo in her new apartment, Jason’s strategies for alternate side street parking, Samantha’s tips on how to properly pronounce Abu Dhabi, and the global proliferation of pumpkin spiced lattes. Judith Roney’s poetry reigns us in and rewards our focus. Listen in as the The Slush Pile crew has an epiphanic, intertextual jam session with “Belly-Up” and “Relictual Taxon.”  We start with “Belly-Up,” which immediately had us contemplating room dividers and family tensions and an array of resonances and literary echoes. Listen for Jason’s references to Rickey Laurentiis’s poems and to Adrienne Rich’s Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers. From “Belly-up” we turn to “Relictual Taxon.” Hear why we love poems that make us smarter about our cultural predicaments. Poetry, climate change, and the anthropocene:  no better way to reckon with extinction than huddled around a mic talking poetry & flipping thumbs.

Judith Roney tends to write about dead people (a lot), relatives, the abused & murdered sent to the Dozier "School" for Boys, the forgotten and misunderstood, hauntings & ghosts. The city she grew up in, Chicago, haunts her. Brick, soot, single pane windows, frost-covered, small protection against wind howling in from Lake Michigan. Sometimes it seems everything haunts her. This is probably because she read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier when she was quite young, but it's still her fav book ever. Ever.

Judith Roney is the author of According to the Gospel of Haunted Women (ELJ Publications, 2015), Bless the Wayward Boy, (Honorable Mention, Two Sylvias Press), Waiting for Rain (Finalist, Two Sylvias Press 2017), and Field Guide for A Human (Runner-Up, Gambling the Aisle 2015 Chapbook Contest). Her poems and other writing have appeared in many anthologies, most recently in the UK’s Shooter Magazine’s “City” themed anthology, as she “poetically takes the pulse of Orlando following last year’s nightclub shootings in “<80 BPM.”


Episode 76: A Toilet in Denver or  Florida is for the Fraught

Episode 76: A Toilet in Denver or Florida is for the Fraught

October 10, 2019

A Toilet in Denver or

Florida is for the Fraught

On today’s episode, we realized that the sound studio needs some naked art! We never thought about it before, but after the Abu Dhabi team and Jason “showed off” about the art in their offices, we got jealous. Joe said we could BYOA, so we’re gonna. Stay tuned.

This got us right off on a tangent about Icarus, a sad one, as he apparently is outside of BMCC, warning students “not to aim too high.”  We had our first vote of the day and it was a loud and long “Booooooooo” re: the sheer meanness of its message.

We started with “Shops Like That” which immediately began a conversation on sense and syntax. Which lead us to a conversation of the image system of the poem, the descriptive scene, and whether this poem would have appeared in Fence in the 90’s (ask Jason). KVM didn’t tell anyone, but she loves the poem for its Wooly Bully reference.

We spent at least 15 minutes dissecting the piece, only to have our vote---end in a tie!!!!

We moved on to “Travel Light.” We were smitten by its sprawl and humor, maybe especially the couch catapult (you’ll love that image too). The poem is so dense, KVM thinks there could be chapters and chapters. And the tangent we went on with THIS poem’s was—toilets! (Listen—it will all make sense.)

The next poem we discussed was “Planet’s Climate Reversal.”  Spoiler alert: iguanas abound. You’re about to learn a lot about iguanas and to see an image that you might not be able to shake. You’ve been warned.

This poem doesn’t only have iguanas, now, it also has state mottos and led us on one of our two-hour journeys through the swamp lands, filled with rehab scams and Disney World factoids.

The poem gave us the chance to recommend “Dumb People Town,” the podcast where Joe Zang learned that all crimes committed in Florida must be publicly reported.

Stay tuned when the show sounds like it’s over to hear the crew respond to Addison’s silky smooth voice. And more after-the-show news: The poem that ended in a tie was ultimately rejected, BUT, the poem we didn’t get on air, “Egypt” has been accepted! Look for them all in Issue #100 of PBQ!


Alicia Askenase’s poetry jaywalks across the streets of American poetry casting a gimlet eye at every word she encounters. Undaunted, she juxtaposes her greatest joys and disenchantments through sonorous and rhythmic landscapes of unexpected insistence.  She confronts the world we live in with daggers and oyster forks, swallows it and returns it to the reader in covert scores.  For her, language is primary.  Meaning evolves organically from the stolen seeds she sows.

Episode 75: Gate Opening and Other Sweaty Festivities

Episode 75: Gate Opening and Other Sweaty Festivities

September 5, 2019

This week, we are bringing you an extra special podcast! That’s right, we recorded LIVE for the first time ever at Philly’s PodFest in the National Liberty Museum. Well...most of us. Marion joined us via Zoom from chilly Cork, Ireland, instead of her usual home base of Abu Dhabi. However, everyone else was on stage in front of old, and new, Slushies! Jason Sneiderman traded up his yellow Parsons table in New York for a yellow Honda, to join us in the flesh. On the other hand, poet and professor Laura McCullough joined us by way of a blue Honda. (And no, Honda did not sponsor this podcast. Unfortunately…) Lastly, present were: Kathleen Volk Miller, Tim Fitts and Joseph Zang (who for once, had the opportunity to just sit back instead of pulling all the strings behind the scenes).

Okay, now onto the incoherent babbling and “sweaty festivities.”

Jason reminisced on how he came to join PBQ, back in the dinosaur ages of the early 2000s, when he was a graphic designer finding his way in the world.

Next, we discussed how online publications were looked down on back in the day. In fact, Jason pointed out a huge contrast to publications today, from online posts being as good as sticking flyers on a bulletin board, to “if it didn’t happen online, it didn’t happen.” Now, podcasting has caught on with just as much speed as online journals. That is why Slush pile has become one of our most prized platforms, as it’s given us the opportunity to broadcast our democratic process that takes place behind the scenes.

Joe expressed hopes that our podcast has made submitters realize that we strive to be gate-openers, rather than gatekeepers. In fact, we encourage all writers out there to do what they want with their personal work, first and foremost, and then let people appreciate their ideas. See, we might be more open-minded than you think!

We went on to deliberate over the “Iowa Method.” This technique is practiced in “brutal workshops” in which peers talk and give their opinions, while the writer stays silent and bares the heat. Do you, Slushies, believe this method is outdated? Or necessary for growth?

Laura went on to give those who may have received a rejection letter from us, or other publications, some encouragement. She told us a story about how editors messaged her saying they cried over a piece she had written, but funny enough, this came in the form of a rejection letter. The point is that some pieces may need some further revision, but it does not mean they are not worthy of being published, one day. Also, just because your piece does not fit the theme of what one publication is looking for, does not mean another will not fall head over heels in love with it. Laura joined us from an extremely unique position: She had her own poetry discussed on an early episode of Slush Pile.

Jason had the audience rolling in laughter when he told us the story of a friend who received a rejection letter for a children’s book. This mother of 2 was told that she clearly had no experience with children.

To conclude our babbling, we encourage writers and readers to visit our “naked meetings,” in which you could meet our editors in a relaxed environment. In fact, we have a public reading coming up September 9th, 2019! All upcoming events can be found on our Facebook page (@painted.quarterly).

ON TO THE POEM! BJ Ward was so brave that he allowed us to read his poem, “Madagascar” in front of a live audience. Tim Fitts described this piece as being “so close to being stupid that it’s not stupid” and “sentimental without being cheesy.” 

We praised the film allusions to Citizen Kane and Solaris. As a matter of fact, Marion said it best: The poem is like an “invitation to think cinematically.”

(Side note: When Joe said, “Mad At Gascar,” did you find yourself laughing with him, or at him?)

Tim pointed out a possible “Gen X image system” in reference to Van Morrison, Rosebud (Citizen Kane) and... duct tape? Can a generation really claim duct tape?? The popular joke of duct tape might have resurfaced a few years ago, as prom dresses and wallets, made from this magical-fixer-of-all-things, started popping up on social media. It seems the Millennials might have reclaimed it as their own as they’ve done with Polaroids, high-waisted jeans and anything else to make themselves look more “hipster.”

Our podcast came to an end with a vote from not only the usual panel, but the entire audience. Imagine that, a wave--no, a TSUNAMI--of thumb flippin’!

Well Slushies, if you missed this event, your loss.

Just kidding! Look out for another live podcast next year. In the meantime, we’ll be back in our regular recording studio every other week. Until then, read on!



BJ Ward is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems 1990-2013 (North Atlantic Books), which received the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. His poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The New York Times, and The Sun, among others, and have been featured on NPR’s “The Writer’s Almanac,” NJTV’s “State of the Arts,” and the website Poetry Daily. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two Distinguished Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He co-founded the creative writing degree program at Warren County Community College in NJ, where he teaches full-time. 


Episode 74: Drugs, Love and Cagelights

Episode 74: Drugs, Love and Cagelights

August 14, 2019

This week we welcomed a special guest: “busy writing lady,” poet and food journalist for the Midatlantic region, Tammy Paolino.

Headlining the discussion on poems by Kyle Watson Brown, were standing desks. Yes, the giraffe of desks! We talked about it all: Drexel’s lottery system for standing desks, Jason’s makeshift standing desk, and DYI portable desks being an indication for becoming the President of the United States and leader of the free world.

After desk-related helpful tips, we moved on to discuss the first poem, “Too Many Funerals.” This one had us floored by its “weird” (Jason’s word), syntax and word choices.

This piece prompted a diverse conversation on the term “junkie” and its evolution from a label to a condition. Then, to give you whiplash, the discussion switched to sunscreen. Usually, the only new member of our podcast meetings are the poets being discussed, however, this week we welcomed a special guest: “busy writing lady,” poet and food journalist for the Midatlantic Region, Tammy Polino.

Headlining the discussion on poems by Kyle Watson Brown, were standing desks. Yes, the giraffe of desks! We talked about it all: Drexel’s lottery system for standing desks, Jason’s makeshift standing desk, and portable desks being a qualification for becoming the President of the United States and leader of the free world.

After enough talk on these wooden objects, we moved on to discuss the first poem, “Too Many Funerals.” This one had us floored by its peculiar syntax and word choices. Moreover. our editors felt as if they were in a maze. Listen in to hear if we found our way out!

This piece prompted a diverse conversation on the term “junkie” and its evolution from a label to a condition. Then, just to give you audio and intellectual whiplash, the discussion switched to sunscreen.

Thank you, Marion, for taking the reins and attempting to steer us back in the direction of the actual poem. Unsurprisingly, we ended up in Ocean City, Maryland, despite her best efforts. (Look, we told you Tammy Paolino lives in NJ—of course the shore—any shore--makes sense.) Joe Zang, our outstanding sound engineer, helped us out in regards to nails and teeth, as well. Listen in and it will all make sense.

The second poem, “Cornerwork” also provoked conversation on drug addiction. Then, Jason tried his best to culture some of us “lazy Americans” on how the word “love,” used in tennis, ionderived from the French. The more you know...

The final poem discussed was, “Cagelight.” After reading the first two poems on drug-addiction, this one will surely have you a bit bumfuzzled on how to interpret it. (And you’re right, bumfuzzled is not a word---yet---but we’re trying.)

The editors of PBQ are curious: Why do some submitters remove their poems within days of submission? Should we point the finger at workshops? Or too many drinks at 3 AM?

Speaking of too many drinks, have you ever ordered something off Amazon at midnight and forgotten all about it the next day? And still failed to recognize the purchase once it arrived at your front door? If not, Kathleen will have to explain that one for you.

Slushies, please consider writing more poems with “conspire” in them, as per Tammy’s request. Also-if you missed the “Whitman at 200” events, make sure to mark your calendar for 2119!  Until next time, read-on!



Kyle Brown-Watson one of the grumpier baristas in Philadelphia. He has read poetry and fiction on stage for Empty Set Press and the Breweytown Social. He's contributed poetry to Yes Poetry and Luna Luna Magazine. Before that, he worked in advertising, software development, and heaven forgive him, television. He infrequently updates his newsletter Terminal Chill and is working on a graphic novel.



Too Many Funerals


My undertows are not the ones

I show you


Sheets of ice stained with salt and 

SPF 78 gunmetal grease runoffs

sucking back the xenon haze 


No shells

No towels

No balls of greasy dough

Not even the quiet closure

of junkie needles in you heel to

Mark the hours passing


that vanishing point

Where fingernails and

necks and teeth 

Conspire to meet,

Blind on February shores.






I’d start with the fat veins

Work South

The empty weeping chirps of 

valves closing 


All the gaps and discs and tremors 

that make me

From tooth to toenail 


Black on carbon black

suspended in silence


The stupid red haze of your eyelids

and nothing else.






Sugarblasted doorframes

so light you can press and




To fly

in the space

where the boredom of

transit makes even a wander

into a magswipe


clogged-artery anonymity

of Mifflin streetlamps to rest

your face 

in bars and shadow they make for you

chilled and cold rolled and waiting for you.





Episode 73: Hornery Is as Hornery Does

Episode 73: Hornery Is as Hornery Does

July 31, 2019

Well Slushies, it’s summer, which means warm days and summer vacations for the crew, comprised of mostly professors and students. This time around Marion joined us in our homebase of Philly, and Samantha joined us from Portland, where she’s attending Tin House’s Summer Workshop.

In this week’s podcast, we discussed poems by Micheline Maylor. The first of her poems up for dissection was “Your Motto.” This piece made us think about the difference between caring and possessiveness in a romantic relationship. HOWEVER, before we could finish our conversation, we had a little surprise: a fire alarm went off a quarter of the way through our podcast!

Once the crew (all and well) were able to reconvene, Jason had had a haircut and Marion was in North Carolina, as it was 2 weeks later. However, we tried our best to continue right where we left off. It seemed the break inbetween veered the discussion, as our editors had some time to figure out some things that had tripped them up in our first conversation. (Is it just a coincidence that Mercury just happened to be in retrograde this time around?) (And who knew nice people like us could have such passionate feelings about teddy bears?)

“Your motto” reaffirmed for us that perception is everything, as many different viewpoints were concluded from the same event depicted in the poem.  For example, Jason was the only one reminded of the film, “The Daytrippers”, which he highly recommends. Britt described the poem as having “warm anger,” which became our favorite phrase of the day.

Next up was “(N)Ever Thought.” The most important question that presented itself from this poem was whether or not anyone used the word ornery anymore? If you don’t use “ornery,” would you consider using “hornery?”  (Listen to the episode and make “hornery” part of your lexicon!)

“(N)Ever Thought” was a reflection of “Your Motto,” as it showed us a another version of the same event. Kathleen HATES comparing two poems to one another as much as Tim loves to do so, but this time, we all had to agree that it must be done. Spoiler alert: we agreed on A LOT today!

The last piece, “She tells me,” was one that had our heads spinning. It caused as much disorientation in our crew as that fire alarm…but in a good, poetic way. We never get bored of creating metaphors about how we enjoy poetry, how we measure our own responses. Kathleen loves the metaphorical stomach punch, but Marion came up with a much more elegant one: a poem should feel like a great wine and leave you with a satisfying taste in your mouth (or something like that).  We do recommend that you do NOT try drinking wine and getting punched in the stomach simultaneously!  But, tune in to join the head-spinnin’ and thumb flippin’!

Now, it’s time for the final recommendations: Sam and Kathleen urge you to watch “Book Smart,” a relatable, coming-of-age drama that had them wanting to watch it again half way through. Kathleen called it a “female-centric” movie reminiscent of Super Bad, but much better, and Sam said it was the first teen movie that did NOT make her feel bad about herself!

Until next time Slushies, read (or watch) on!




Micheline Maylor’s was Calgary’s Poet Laureate 2016-18. Her latest poetry collection Little Wildheart (U of Alberta Press) was long listed for both the Pat Lowther and Raymond Souster awards. She teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary.




Your motto


I told you once I love you, if anything changes, I’ll let you know.

                                                                          -    John Wayne



I couldn’t stay faithful after New Year’s eve,

all those aggressive philosophy majors and tequila’s shot.

You and me like the stuffed bears in our son’s room,

propped up in corners, staring, neglected, a bit dusty.

What was to be done after that party? All my switches

flipped, a fuse box shutting down. Click by click.

Time to wrap it up, kids. Last call. Last song.

And I’m sitting here in my corner now, hearing you say,

“What’d you want me to do, punch the guy?”

No. No. No. I wanted you to love me so hard,

that he never asked if I would go home with him.

I wanted you to love me, but you were too busy laughing.





(N)Ever Thought


I’ve been having home-wreck dreams of you.

I’ve got an inside view from our big window.

This is a metaphor, of course, not manufacture, yet.

We stay shrouded in a cloud of disaster.


Dust in the loader bucket, the ideal view ruins itself.

This dream is all I could pull out of the dark.

A toothy, wild punk drunk at the controls.

I get ornery when unprotected.


I’m the wife at the party guarded by friends

husbands who have more vigilant shoulders.

Some big bully wants me for his own.

You have such lovely smiling dimples when you watch.


Over there in the corner, you eye the trespasser.

He drives right into your marriage and you watch.






She tells me,


The toilet in the basement has belched up and over

its intestinal wreckage, drained-stained the floor

like a party goer dunked up and shaken sober.


In my new office, I’ve become the scapegoat

for my grandmother’s guilt. I’ve become a beacon

of success. I hardly pick up the phone anymore.


She tells of irrelevant relatives, things

I walked away from. I tell her, you taught

the art of dehydration. I was so parched.


Didn’t I tell you, I was a fern in the desert,

a plate spinner with thin skin and shoeless,

didn’t I warn you from the start?


Episode 72: Just the Tip

Episode 72: Just the Tip

July 31, 2019

Let’s start by celebrating our democratic editorial policy by seeing which of the many titles we came up we should use! “Bag O’Wigs,” “Just the Tip,” or “I Find it Aching (Oh, Yeah)? 

This week’s podcast consisted of three of our “well-hydrated” original members, the OGs, Kathleen, Marion and Jason, along with the co-op, Britt. At the center of our table were poems by Sarah Browning, who allowed us to dissect her poems like a turkey (see below) on Thanksgiving. 

The first poem up for discussion was “For the turkey buzzards,” which Marion described as “ghasty but beautiful” (both the buzzards themselves and the images in the poem). We’ve provided you with an image so will understand why Britt would never want to be reincarnated into one. This poem possessed metaphors that had our crew members meeting at a crossroads. Be sure to listen in to find out our destination (aha-see what I did there?). 

We skipped the main course and jumped right to desert as we discussed the poem “Desire.” Let’s just say Kathleen was a little too excited to volunteer to read this one! This brought back childhood memories for Britt, as it reminded her of evocative songs like Candy Shop by 50 Cent and Ego by Beyoncé. It even had us playing the roles of relationship counselors as we tried to get into the head of the woman going through such terrible heartbreak. 

Lastly, we deliberated “After I Knew,” a soap-opera-like piece that will certainly get you in the feels, if you were not in it already. 

Just when we thought things could not get anymore steamier, Kathleen brought up a dream by Bryan Dickey’s (a family friend of PBQ) partner, but that is one you must listen in to learn more about. We are so excited for you guys to tell us your interpretations of this scandalous dream. Furthermore, should this dream be turned into a poem or has enough been said? 

Is purse slang for the vagine? Could Marion’s cat sitter be no ordinary cat sitter, but…a spy? 

Okay, okay! You have read enough here; go listen. 


We are SO SAD we have bruises from beating our breasts, but “Desire” was snapped up by Gargoyle before we got to Sarah!!! We’ll put the hyperlink here when it goes up, but until then, check Gargolye out anyway. 

We are SO HAPPY that Sarah agreed to our edit of “Turkey Buzzards” that the neighbors complained about our dancing (to “Candy Shop” and “Ego,” of course. 

Until next time, Slushies!




Sarah Browning stepped down as Executive Director of Split This Rock in January 2019, after co-founding and running the poetry and social justice organization for 11 years. She misses the community but not the grant reports… Since then she’s been vagabonding about the country, drinking IPAs in Oregon, sparkling white wine in California, and bourbon in Georgia. She’s also been privileged to write at three residencies, Mesa Refuge, the Lillian E. Smith Center (where she won the Writer-in-Service Award), and Yaddo. She is the author of Killing Summer (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017) and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007) and has been guest editor or co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, and three issues of POETRY. This fall she begins the MFA program in poetry and creative non-fiction at Rutgers Camden.




For the turkey buzzards


who rise ungainly from the fields,

            red heads almost unbearable


to regard, crooked and gelatinous,

             how they circle their obsession


on the scent of the winds, always

            circling back, returning to settle


on that one dead thing that satisfies,

             the past to be pecked and pondered –


forsaken fare for others, but for

             the scavenger the favored meal –


like us, the poets, who eat at the table

            of forgetfulness, ask the dead


to nourish us, beg forgiveness

            as we circle and swoop, descend,


fold our wings, bend to the maggoty flesh,

           gorge on the spoiled, glistening feast






I took your large hand and raised it.

Just this, I said, the tip of a finger or two –


just to the nail or so – into my mouth, which

had dreamed of just that. You made a sound


I hoped was a gasp and I wanted – as I

had for 30 years – to do it: open my


mouth and take your two large fingers all

the way inside my throat, the size of them


filling me. But I stopped, in shame and desire –

I blush writing – because you said we would


say goodbye inside my rental car outside

your hotel: Even now, days later, miles apart,


I am hungry for such thick and full.




After I Knew


I drove alone through the farmland

of central New York – the open vistas

and steep drops – towns with names

like Lyle unexplored, their secrets hoarded,

as I was hoarding my own secret

then. I-88 was empty as always and I

followed its long high valley, driving

away from you. We had not yelled

or broken mere things. I did not cry.

I drove fast, but not recklessly.


I stopped for a nap before Albany,

a middle-aged woman sleeping alone

in an aging Geo Prism. For a few more

miles I hoped I could just drive away.




Episode 71: The Lost Episode (with bonus Anatomy Lessons!)

Episode 71: The Lost Episode (with bonus Anatomy Lessons!)

July 3, 2019


Although we had a small group for this week’s podcast, we sure had some big discussions.  

First and foremost, we are sad that Jason has repurposed his yellow parson’s table. We always loved picturing him there when he did episodes from home, but—we finally got a photo! Now back to business! (For now…)  

This was our second go at discussing these three poems written by Gwendolyn Ann Hill. The first time around, everyone had attempted to chime in from remote locations: hotel rooms, the back of cars, Abu Dhabi. So, it was no surprise that after great effort, it all went up in flames. However, here we are again to give it another shot! *fingers crossed* 

The first poem up was “Unplanting a Seed,” which was an interconnectedness of tragic events, rewound. It’s ambiguity and ambivalence had the crew awe-struck, and remembering the film Adaptation“Reverse Suicide” by Matt Rasmussen, and “Drafting a Reparations Agreement” by Dan Pagis.

Of course, somehow our conversation on this extraordinary poem somehow turned into a discussion on anatomy. For those out there who did not know (hopefully, only a few of you) we have 2 ovaries. Kidneys are not the size kidney beans. And most times, identical twins share a placenta. 

Moving on! According to Jason, the second poem “This Wood is a True Ebony, But it Needs a Century to Grow,” had a certain  “luminescence" to it. He compared it to “This Tree Will Be Here For A Thousand Years” by Robert Bly…even though he’s never read it. Guess we’ll just have to have faith in his intuition!  

Pause: Are freckled bananas like old ladies? Do persimmons  taste like deodorant (Well, even if  they didn’t, I bet they will from now on. You can’t untaste that.) 

The final poem “We As Seeds” brought us a winter experience in the middle of summer. On the contrary, it’s mysterious symbolism or possibly, literal meaning, had us pleasingly stumped, because we made that a “thing.” 

If you were a fan of these poems, Marion recommends that you read Teresa Leo’s book of poems, “Bloom in Reverse."

Well, that’s it for now Slushies. But listen in to see how #flippin’thumbs went! (And help us make #flippin’thumbs a thing, too!)  


Gwendolyn Ann Hill is a native of Iowa City, IA, earned her BA at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR, and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. In her spare time you will find her either in her garden or hiking in the forest, because she feels more comfortable around plants than she does around most people.





Unplanting a Seed


In a phone conversation with my mother

we say good-bye first, and finally,

after hours, hello.


A ripe Brandywine turns

from burnt umber, to pink, to green.

Flesh hardens. Juices dry up.


As the fruit lightens,

stems lift their droop.

My cousins and I collect


my grandfather’s ashes

from his fields, gathering them in fistfuls

we place tenderly into an urn.


Petals fly from the ground.

Pollen migrates upward

from deep reproductive recesses,


attaching to a bee’s leg.

The bee flies backward

to a tomato plant in the neighbor’s yard.


Bee populations are on the rise.

A surgeon places the ovary

gently into my body, twists


my fallopian tube into a tangle,

watches it turn black and blue.

My grandma gets all her memories back


for one fleeting second,

then forgets them one by one

as wrinkles dissolve slowly from her face.


Whorls close into diminishing buds.

Rain floats skyward;

gathering, in droplets, to the clouds.


The Brandywine plant contracts

its leaves, one by one, 

meristem lowering into the soil.


My grandfather collects pesticides

into nozzles. His plows reverse

the soil back into place. He tucks weeds


between vegetables. Rivers run clean

all the way back to the source.

My mom is a teenager, pulling smoke


from the air with her lips,

returning to the town she will call home

its population growing


then dwindling, to fade

eventually into prairie.

Roots recede. Cells merge,


walls breaking down

between daughters.

A casing hardens around the seed.


My grandfather—now a boy, eyes

shining beneath the shadow of his hands—

plucks it out of the ground


between thumb and forefinger

and places it carefully

into the seed-packet,


closing the hole

he made in the earth

as he moonwalks away.




This Wood is a True Ebony, But it Needs a Century to Grow


Split, by the bottomland

creek in mid-October, a persimmon

lay on a bed of netted leaves,

waxy skin hiding the dazzle


jack o’ lantern fruit. I extract

an ant invader, lick my lips.

A little rot sweetens it for sucking,


like jelly Grandma boiled all summer—

the sun with sugar and pectin, a drop

or two of rosewater. Fallen


from a thicket with bark deeply

rifted and cracked; charred campfire

logs. Blow on them. When the lights

go out, these trees glow from within.





We, As Seeds


Right now, we are enduring

a period of cold

stratification, as we must.


Let the sun droop low.

Let the snow

melt, crust, pile


up, and melt again,

tumbling over

the husks of our bodies.


Let the temperature drop.

Let the starlings flock

to peck at the detritus


that engulfs

us, burying us over

and over again.


Only this long

freeze can soften

our shells. Only this dark


washing and rinsing

of our skin can bring

us to bloom.



Episode 70: Scalloped Potatoes (with apologies to Ohio)

Episode 70: Scalloped Potatoes (with apologies to Ohio)

June 19, 2019

Welcome back again Slushies! For this podcast, we had a full house ready to discuss three poems by Brandon Thomas DiSabatino. 

The first poem was tuscarawas river song. Surprisingly, this piece initially erupted a discussion on the beautiful descriptions of a river, turned quickly to a dialogue on drugs. Trigger warning: This topic could possibly hit home for many of our listeners as opioids have become a pervasive problem, especially in our Slushpile’s home base of Philadelphia. We learned more about opiod overdose than we wanted to know.

But forget the drug problem! Joe Zang, our intrepid sound engineer, expressed the top problem today might just be the Ohio-ians, and he revealed his Instagram handle, so…go ahead and slide into his DM’s! 

Challenge of the Day: Try saying “hog-tied whippoorwills” three times in a row as quickly as you can! Most of us could not even say it once. 

Next up, a portrait of cave fires on walls as the first sitcom in syndication. The first thing that caught the eye of our crew members was the structure of the poem, which had many of us stumped: Its center juxification had the gang in a quite a tizzy! No need to fret, we think Joe may have cracked the reasoning behind this peculiar format. Listen in to find out Joe’s theory. 

The last poem discussed was a department of corrections state-of-mind blues, which many of described perfectly as a fresh piece with crazy imagery and strong tone. According to Marion, it was quite witty as one of the lines specifically winked at her.  

Plot twist! The final verdict left the cast stunned and even had some begging for a recount. Listen in to hear the final decision on this piece. 

As this podcast comes to an end, Tim Fitts announced that Patrick Blagrave, a regular voter in Painted Bride Quarterly’s democratic process, started a magazine of his own, the Prolit and no! Tim did not just promote the new mag because his flash piece was published in it! 

Finally, Marion gave a much needed thank you to Habib University's student journal. Habib is located in Karachi, Pakistan. We love to see students being afforded access to a creative writing outlets—around the world! Also, her recommended read for this podcast is Hajibistan by Sabyn Javieri.




Brandon Thomas DiSabatino was born in Canton, Ohio – the same town Hank Williams died in the back of a Cadillac to avoid playing in. He used to take pride in this fact, and has since been in contact with several psychic mediums as to the possibility of a posthumous rain-check performance for Mr. Williams to fulfill his outstanding contract. After several years of minimum wage, minimum effort work throughout the Midwest and Florida, he washed-up in New York and began writing as a way to compensate for the fact he would never be drafted into the NBA. His work for the theater has been performed in Cincinnati and throughout NYC, and his writing can be found in Belt Mag, Silver Needle Press, After the Pause, Stereo Embers and other publications. His full-length poetry collection, “6 Weeks of White Castle /n Rust,” is available from Emigre Publishing, with all proceeds benefiting his Faberge Egg habit. He now lives in Brooklyn with his partner Shelbi and their toothless, one-eyed cat, Leonard. He considers himself an adequate dancer and a decent American.





“tuscarawas river song.”


born sightless but

going into focus


w/ the softness

of an acetylene flame –


your eyes, blue animals

running from their own reflection


(torn-into) as a mouth

w/ the gums gone        open:


for hog-tied whippoorwills

in mock poses of the living;


clouds balled w/ the fists

of arthritic gamblers;


naloxone canisters, clorox walls,

the hard asking of rain –


the rain

in the fashion of a human body


that does not fall

faster while laughing.




“a portrait of cave fires on walls as the first sitcom in syndication.”


the naked, midnight diners

are at it again, posed

in the windows

like an advent calendar

across from me.   totems

of unwashed dishes

pile in the sink; heat

from hog grease peels

their wallpaper back.

a nightmare

of human real estate.

scalloped potatoes.

shrimp cocktails.

cheeto bags /n chicken-

fried steaks – every night


vast servings in silence

sitting naked in generic, metal chairs.

they have never noticed i am here.

i have been watching them in darkness

since the utilities were turned off.

i ask myself

when will she give it up –

beat his head-in w/ a frying pan,

blow her brains in the tuna casserole

out of grief.

because i am a romantic

i can imagine it:

brain spurs stippling

cheap, yellow tile,


decomposing to shadow,

leaving an outline

like a child’s drawing

on the ceiling of the apartment below them,

undiscovered, for weeks,

until the neighbor is fucking his wife

on the living room floor, witness

to this new constellation above him.

i am envious to be there –

not so much w/ the wife

on the living room floor

but as a guest this time,

on the couch, maybe

watching the super bowl,

astonished by something, anything

i look into.





“a department of corrections state-of-mind blues.”


white trillium gores

through rib-bones frozen

on the shoulders

of county roads




these clouds give cinema

to a surface of windows

that have yet to be blinded

w/ wooden boards


this horizon     laid

- as smoke raised

from a mirror –


meant less to reflect

than see           yourself





Episode 69: Memories in Connecticut

Episode 69: Memories in Connecticut

June 6, 2019

Hello Slushies, new and old. Welcome to another episode of the Slushpile! On this week’s podcast, we will be discussing poems by Yumi Dineen Shiroma. 

First up is a MEGApoem and no, we are not over-exaggerating. However, here at the Painted Bride Quarterly, we always go big or go home, so Kathleen took two deep breaths and jumped right into reading the first poem, “Welcome to Connecticut”. Immediately, we were quick to realize that even though it would be a difficult one to read for a podcast, it was oh so worth it. 

Samantha compared this to the work of Tommy Orange and his book, "There, There." Marion recalled Middlemarch, and other literary works came to mind (if we can call The Omen literary?).

This is a piece that took us into the mind of Yumi and its rhythm was “like a flood”. The crew felt as if the inner-dialogue brought them into a world of its own with memories so grand, we just want to stay in that moment, or literally-speaking, re-read certain lines to relive it.  

This poem brought a lot of suppressed memories for our Tim Fitts, one of which was a terrifying flashback of a woman driving with a dog on her lap, while texting. The least she could have done was pick one reckless decision at a time, or better yet, just drive?

All in all, this fun and humorous piece awakened a wide range of emotions in the gang, and even had Kathleen’s thumbs up from the moment she read the title. Listen in, to find out the direction of everyone else’s opposable thumbs.  

The next poem titled “A Surfeit of Saturation and Light / Hungry Ghost,” smartly used nouns as verbs and vice versa. Our own music genius, Tim Fitts, also said that this poem had a perfect pitch, so who are we to argue with that! 

Yumi’s second piece was consensually described as "weird without being goofy" and "smart without being pretentious.” Now that would make a million-dollar t-shirt! 

It seems both poems dived into the subconscious of the gang because Marion was reminded of the time she was possessed by demon in Singapore. You just have to listen to get the details.

Random yes, but after listening to this podcast, do you agree with Tim Fitts that people are going to start smoking again when the zombies come? In addition, how do they pronounce “water” where you live? 


Yumi Dineen Shiroma is a PhD student in English at Rutgers University, where she studies the theory and history of the novel. Her poetry has previously appeared in BOMB, Hyperallergic, Peach Mag, and Nat. Brut, and her chaplet, A Novel Depicting "The" "Asian" "American" "Experience,"was recently published by Belladonna*. You can find her on Twitter at @ydshiroma.



Welcome to Connecticut, Land of Death and Rebirth


I had run through fields in white pants bleeding

from the eye I recalled as I ran through the field

in my white pants bleeding from the eye and you

walked beside me your briefcase your flannel your messenger bag


Your spontaneous face your spontaneous face your

spontaneous face where one won’t expect you are mine

in the field in the valley in the valley in the tunnel

spooled through your spatialized mind you are mine


as a tea-kettle whistles at the heat I love you

tryna drink my cold brew in the window as you walk

by and by and walk by and walk by in my cat’s eye

shade in your shade with the tassel in her ear I am yours

I run my virtual hand through her virtual hand


11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. do yoga stare at trees, location:

trees. I grew so much this year your year gray

hairs an evening fishing for eels in the creek

a season overlays space the meeting of homogeneous

empty and messianic times where time informs our time

spent among any given spatial totality and you walk

by the window and


#thinking about #revenge again she shreds

the straw with my teeth the buttons done up

to the neck like you used to do again

the hand on my head the head-

stubble (oedipal, stacy suggests)


conference next slide none of the backs of the heads

look like you and a season overlays time like you in

cambridge a casaubon like dorothea

in rome a casaubon whose fits in the center

for rare books and special

collections prove non-fatal


the trick was throwing my phone in the compost moving

on with my life in my arms and I walk

ostentatiously past the window as you walk

by the window in my new vegan

leather freezing the air with my breath


gcal notification total knowledge project due

today you have executed your total knowledge project

with aplomb the crowd explodes tickertape and katy perry

songs for him the king of the total knowledge project


breaking a dish on my wrist I watch

from the kitchen your faithful wife and staunch

the blood with the tapestry she weaves night in night

out of my limited intellectual means with its warp

of fact with its weft of I feel like


You fucking moron don’t you know I’m in love, walking you

back and forth my fingers staining the window blocking the natural light

this high noon I still cough at the smoke and the smoke still smells

like you in my lungs bent over your total knowledge project

(sign on the door a girl in a dress reading OMEN)


I love you as a tea-kettle whistles at the heat

as a window won’t lock when the dust weeps in

she allows the pipes to freeze and burst, changes

the locks and you aren’t coming back

recognizing neither my face nor my name

I take the train


you once told me about your people their

parlors and names their inhibitions

how they questioned the wisdom

of classifying even the seemingly non-sexual

passions as libidinal


back in your stomping grounds welcome to connecticut

land of death and rebirth says the wizened

crone on the metro north stirring her coffee a yellow nail

a greek key cup a fleck of krispy kreme in the fates she thought

I would die before she saw rome she thought

she would die before she saw rome she thought

she would take you with me


I once told you about my people how they lacked

objects to organize their lives their fucking a figure

for interconnectedness a leftist poem writ

in my blood just for you the object arrives

with me and ends at last with me in the object-

narrative (you called my name and it was the name of the LORD)


holden will walk me to class the day I can’t

breathe because of my pollen allergy

because I’ve lost you because she’d lost you

sam would bring me a glass of wine in bed

as he walks by the window he walks

by the window he walks by the window you walk


I love you as you walk by the window and she loves you

as I love the pills she swallows with wine to draw

a circle of salt around my heart to keep you out

like a mouth loves a lost tooth drooling blood I love


the way that she loves the pizza delivery

man like the lost and found where he found her umbrella again

between the storm that cold summer day I left it again

again distracted by you


I saw her standing, drawing off her glove, standing contrapposto in her limited edition Doc Martens. I saw her standing in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I saw her standing before a red canvas, standing contrapposto. I said: She looks like the statue of Artemis. I desired to paint her as I would sketch a charcoal sketch of the statue of Artemis, I told her: You look like the statue of Artemis. We debated the merits of visual versus textual representation, their transparency, their potential for eloquent distortion, to reveal the truth of a truth that overwhelms truth with its canvas of red. I saw her stand.


I once told you about my people they were

prophets all, burned in the brain the prophet

who buries herself in new haven will rise from the earth

in 17 years reborn reborn in the mouth of 2013


your name in her mouth like a cut like a cut like I always got lost

in a city any city like the dreams of being naked or lost

in my city I always got lost in the wrong metaphor

like she always got lost in your spatialized mind in the

box house and metaphor and the train and the train

they claimed could only move one way





A Surfeit of Saturation and Light / Hungry Ghost


The foxes hold their wedding at the base of the mountain

They wait for the rainbows to banner the sky

For the rain to fall while the sun shines

Their normative ideas about the future keep them yoked

            to such couplings

No matter what dreams they might have held for themselves

Dressed in your finest you buy them two voles off their registry

I catch the bouquet of narcissus, willow and peony

You walk through a field in black and white

            and you walk through another field in green

            and one in gold


I love you a 29-year-old sprung fully formed

            from the pit of a peach

Charisma in your footsteps

            and your heart so impetuous

            and your eye flits along the fields of differing colors

I stand every day on the New Brunswick train station platform

            waiting for you

Tapping my foot with a sound like water on stone

You reproduce yourself exactly in each of your children

My throat is too narrow for the hole in my stomach to be filled

Which is why I need you, stepping from the train, clothed

            in the skin of the peach


But you are a bad man

Bumming around in the rice fields

You are the fox in her house dress who sits by the window

            watching the hens

Your heart is full of peach pulp and fuzz and the fruit

            around the pit is sour

You are not the monk in his field of persimmon trees

You are not the painter eating his blues

Nor are you the blues or their valuable pigment

You are a man who sprang from the pit of a peach

I loved you while my hair was still buzzed with the #3 clippers

I came to meet you, as far as the platform


The oni rifle through my desk for valuables

They take $300 in cash, my ID cards

They take my money to their castle in the sky

I will grow older and you will grow older and the foxes will fuck

            beneath the rafters of the porch

You will fight the oni in the sky for me

But I can also fight the oni in the sky

I can climb up to the castle on the hill


You have met so many amazing people on this journey

You have this really special connection with the fox

            and the pheasant

            and the monkey who stands, hand pressed to his silent mouth

I press and hold my hand to my mouth

I am biting the peach pit in half with my sharp fox teeth

Episode 68: Rooftops and Buttered Popcorn

Episode 68: Rooftops and Buttered Popcorn

May 22, 2019

It was a blustery day in Philadelphia when this podcast was recorded. That is how we learned that Tim is one of the few people who can say that the wind works for his hair.

To add to this trying weather, most of the crew was suffering from a terrible case of jet lag, as they had just come back from AWP's conference in Portland, Oregon.

After some light reminiscing about rooftops and candy in Portland, it was time to get into the poems! Get your buttered popcorn ready for the first piece written by Erin Kae, "Q&A: (Of World's Anatomy At The End)." This one opened the way for one interpretation after the other. However, the most important question remained: What would you do if you knew the world was about to end?

The next piece was by Amy Bilodeau. Due to its smart wording, "(It’s warm here inside the fierce)" many of the gang liked it before even trying to fully understand it. It just had that pa-zazz, you do not see too often in the world of poetry. Kathleen teased that she was stealing it for the title of her next album. (Even funnier if you ever heard Kathleen sing…) Also, Marion thought that the color schemes of this poem resembled that of Reginald Shepard's "You, Therefore." Do you agree?


Out of curiosity: What's your definition of fierce?


Somehow, the conversation took a complete one-eighty and went back around to Tim's hair, or should I say the lack thereof. Can't a balding man just live in peace around here? We keep him around for so many reasons, one of them being his ability to make nutball connections, like Amy’s poems reminding him of Ginger Baker, the drummer from CREEM.


Once we were able to get back into discussion mode, the second poem, "(The morning makes me nervous)" led to a discussion on the mysteries behind sleep. Tim pointed out how "everything changes at night" as the right brain takes charge and causes humans to show their true colors. Remember to ask your loved ones or wannabe’s to reveal their secrets once the sun goes down.

Today's recommendation is brought to you by Marion. She suggests that you all read "The Carrying" by a Ada Limón, a long-time friend of PBQ. Even better, finish it in one sitting and if possible, on a plane with a glass of champagne, or on a rooftop in Oregon. Whatever butters your popcorn!






True/False:     It is required that the Earth crack open, burst

           its yolk before the end. Is there a certain sound you need

           to hear? An anguish of language melted down inaudible—or fevered

           droning spread over all corners?


True/True:      Disregard the temperature, it’s only

           going to get worse. You avoid the sun, bed

           into the mantle, mark out a spot for all

           to see you have had this dance before—licked

           flames off old boxing gloves & waltzed

           into fractured fault line breach.


False/False:     There was the proverbial flash/bang & then

            everyone was served popcorn while waiting

            for it to be their turn. Of course it was buttered, extra

            buttered—this is the end of the world.


False/True:     You thought it would be much grander;

            there’d be more splendor in this. Are you really putting hope

            into structural integrity at a time like this? Act smart;

            call it a crevasse—that sounds scientific enough.

            If all else fails remember the real estate market

            for lava is looking pretty good right now.


You/You:        In the movie-version of what happened

         you’ll call it Fissure Island.

         How much more literal a name do you need? Toe

         around it all you want, but at the end, the only way off

         this rocky body is down. Bring a shovel

         & your best dancing shoes.


Born and raised outside of Rochester, NY, Erin Kae is a proud graduate of SUNY Geneseo. Her poetry has been featured in Vinyl, Sonora Review, Crab Fat Magazine, andFugue among others. She was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Aster(ix) Journal, and was selected as a finalist for the 2017 Locked Horn Press Publication Prize for their issue Read Water: An Anthology, 2019. Her first poetry chapbook, Grasp This Salt, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2019. She currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts. 


(It’s warm here inside the fierce)


It’s warm here inside the fierce
Blithe belly of the beloved

The wedding was entirely gray
The way
I like it

There were guests
A cold colorful wind
Though we didn’t want them

The ring is gray on the
Gray mottled counter and the floor
Also gray
The walls etc

The tender sky...
You can imagine




(The morning makes me nervous)


The morning makes me nervous
Some days
Until the music starts

Being jumpy isn’t dancing
I guess

But maybe I’m playing the strings so beautifully eerie
In my head
I’m moving me with it

Coffee helps and saying
Quiet to all the no ones

When the bold nights fight for me
I’m not certain
Who to root for

I know what a forest looks like
The inside of the beloved’s mouth
Shadows and pale reds and a threat

The dogs inevitably want back in
The coffee being cold by the last
Drink of it




(I am definitely getting younger)


I am definitely getting younger
I know because
Laughing inappropriately
And uniform of twelve year old boy
I haven’t decided what will happen
When I’m born
But if it’s something good
You can believe
I will stuff my blue pockets
Grin dumbly


One last thing Slushies: The final piece by Amy Bilodeau, "(I am definitely getting younger)" was voted YES!


Amy Bilodeau's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Connotation PressDREGINALDDMQ ReviewRHINO (runner-up for the Editor's Prize), Two Hawks Quarterly, and others. Her full-length manuscript was a finalist for the Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry, and her chapbook manuscript was a semi-finalist in the Black Lawrence Black River Chapbook Competition. Her work has also been nominated for inclusion in Best Small Fictions. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Episode 67: Poprocks and Monocles

Episode 67: Poprocks and Monocles

May 8, 2019

In this week's podcast, we welcomed Samantha from Abu Dhabi to the home team in Philly!

The group was in a celebratory mood for lots of reasons. Did You Know: Tim Fitts is the co-founder of Philly's Home Brew Reading Series, which will not only provide you with free beer, but also, an experience only to be described as a "full blast".

Before we got into the poems, Kathleen could be heard chanting, "I love my job, I love my job." That's right, speak it into existence!

The first of several poems, was written by *robo voice* Stephanie Berger. (Listen to the episode and you’ll get it.) "Just To Give You An Idea," is a dense piece with surreal lines. Or according to Jason, "feels like the whole universe. Incredibly expansive and intimate at the same time." Whew! Just take my breath away, while you're at it.

Next up, is a fun read titled, "It Doesn't Hurt That She Is Beautiful." After reading the poem, do you agree that it has "little land mines" or "pop rocks" (or both)? This piece brought a wave of nostalgia amongst the crew. Kathleen was brought back to reading a book by a brook (see what I did there?) as her husband went fly fishing. However, this piece put Kathleen and Tim Fitts at opposite ends and although they did not literally arm wrestle, they did figuratively speaking, as true literary geniuses do to settle disagreements over poetry.

Thirdly was "Below His Monocle" which had us evaluating its depths down to point we were arguing how many exclamation points are too many in a poem. It got so fiery that our sound engineer, Joseph Zang, threatened to cut off Tim's mic!

After they were able to cool down, we continued with "Only Light Where The Leaves Once Were." You just have to read that one yourself to be hit by the fantastic ending.

Dear Stephanie Berger, Tim is begging you to let him use your creative genius for the title of his next set of short stories: How does "Truth, Marrow, Stone and Consequence" sound?

Tune in to hear Jason's sad attempt at French, as he refers to Wallace Stevens', "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle" while Kathleen ups the ante with both The Handmaid’s Tale AND The Great Gatsby. Or if you're a Tim Fitts fan, as a person, not an author, although that's okay too, take his advice and read "The Beginning Of His Excellent and Eventful Career" by Cameron MacKenzie.

Finally, listen in to possibly comprehend how we ended discussing monocles in the 21st century. Do you have one? More importantly, do you want one?


Fifteen facts and one lie about Stephanie Berger:

  • Stephanie is a natural born redhead. 
  • At the age of 1, she drank from a $500 bottle of grand vin Château Latour. 
  • At the age of 8, she ate a pigeon in a Parisian cafeteria. 
  • Stephanie was raised by not one, but two cultural sociologists.
  • She is left-handed. 
  • She is a switch-hitter.
  • The first poem she remembers writing was called "Dog and Cat Baseball at Sunset."
  • Her favorite place to write is at the bottom of a canyon or the site of a spring. 
  • Her favorite herb is tarragon. 
  • Her favorite sound is suction. 
  • Her favorite section of an essay is the introduction. 
  • Her least favorite section of an essay is the body. 
  • Her favorite goddess is Mnemosyne. 
  • She once had a 21-year-old cat named Daphne. 
  • Her partner's name is Alex. 
  • Her business partner's partner's name is also Alex. 


Imagine this rock here
is the center of the universe.
Imagine this rock is your belly button.
Divide your body into halves, then quarters,
& then: make a planet. This leg
of our journey will take about 500 years.
I would like to stop & show you why
along the way, but the bones, they’re telling us
to keep moving. Seas of femurs, pools
of pelvises, arranged as arrows
& symmetrical suns. Here you find a hole
& make something in it. Your aesthetics reflect
a fear of empty space, a terror of the vacuum,
like a sleeping feline with the face of an owl
& the tail of a snake must be sacrificed.
I returned to the fetal position in the afterlife.
My soul made a circular journey down the river
& up the Milky Way. Now I’m back!
So, let me tell you a little something about caves
& rivers. No one shall pass through but by me.
My belly button is the center of this universe,
a sacred valley, surrounded by mountains
filled with silver so luxuriously. We all
want to look a little richer than we are.
Those ear plugs are a status symbol.
We all know that baby alpaca is cool
to the touch, that eucalyptus towers
above the peaks & helps us breathe
at the site where we can see
the founder of the lightning bolt, that golden
idol with a hole where his heart
should be. A mole on his face in the shape
of Peru. Jesus with a guinea pig laid out
on the table. Mother Mary with coco leaves
puffing out her cheek. Teenage girls grinding
the corn like teeth. I believe in reciprocity:
offering my tears & receiving
your laugh, splitting my body into two
& giving you half. This is the point
where our two valleys meet.
That’s why we’re in a wind tunnel.



As she descends into the canyon, she becomes
the descent, the way an action
can become solid as a steeple.
I can be the downfall of man! That sunburst
of flesh! For I am
the moment the desert meets water
from the mountains, an instant
connection, a language that can travel
into your memories
like a fiction, like water
from the earth, a landscape
more various than the human heart.
But she isn’t human. The way her nose
comes down the center
of her face like a coin, like candle
wax, a waterfall. A beautiful
creator. A dutiful daughter.
Excitedly, she babbled, more
adorable than any brook.
Things come to a head.
They come into it. You reach
a point in your life. There is a point
in every life at which
you can see no further, a black
hole in a bucket, & so you let it
drip, clear as a window
in the water. It is important to remember
there are windows in the water.



Truth, marrow, stone, & consequence.
She didn’t earn a dime of it. The light,
hammering down on the desert
from the opposite side of your
expectations as the morning shifts
to afternoon. His hat tilted low
over one eye, he was practically debonair
in his exhaustion, drunk on the feather
in his cap. She asked
who gave it to him.
Once she’d skinny-dipped with some
kind of demigod
& his daughter. She found a dog
in the water & the word
for “family” was born.
She wanted to eat
the lilies, to be filled & floating
on the water like a body.
I can see her, sun-drenched
& precise & yet, we have never met.
Love is a mystery that way,
more civil than any city, like a pilgrim
who reaches her destination
& cannot bear to stop.


Before the pharmacy, above the apothecary,
I lived for a spell. With broomsticks
in a closet with no name.
Along the spine of the hill, below the ashen face
of heaven, I waited for his ovine spirit
to graze my face.
She held her breath so tightly it escaped her, she lied
in the desert, like it’s just so cruciform
that the vultures sitting down for dinner with
gods are like gentlemen in comparison,
cartoonish only to the hawker, the rhyme
of her cracked lips.
It is everywhere, this sack
of pronouns, holding onto each other for dear
life—its fetching beaks & blouses, boutonnières. It is dear
to glare imperially from one’s mountain-palace.
If vulgar, it is vulture, valiant, a peach
and so chatty, she inhaled the words voluptuously
with a churchlike desire to conceal
her meaning. The tremendous gentleness
of that moment smothers me, divested
of its garland, its daughters, the page
holding itself together
like a life.


Episode 66: What If Hansel and Gretel Had a Cage Fight?

Episode 66: What If Hansel and Gretel Had a Cage Fight?

April 26, 2019

Hello all and welcome to another episode of Slushpile! In this episode, look forward to not only critiquing a few poems along with the gang, but also some discussion on the original tale of Hansel and Gretel.

Setting a new precedence, rather than lots of jackassery before we got down to business, we quickly moved into the poems (below the bio!) by Susannah Sheffer. (Though we tussled a bit over who of us found these poems!)

The first poem titled, "After: An Introduction" was read by a sniffly Ali.                             

However, instead of a discussion on the poem itself, following the reading, a discussion on the history of the IPod's evolution ensued. Nevertheless, we just as quickly got back on track!

The crew decided that the poem was crafted as a re-telling of the story, "Hansel and Gretel" and prompted a fascinating conversation that will have you glued to your audio device (whether that be an IPod or IPhone).

This piece even had Jason and Tim agreeing with each other, which if you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you know is rare.

Re-tellings of an original story can be tricky as it could either go really well, or come off as overdone. A debate amongst the gang resulted from this. Obviously, the poem did a good job as the majority agreed that even though it was a recreation, it still possessed unique qualities. Even those who weren't big fans of the story, could say that they understood why someone else could.

Moreover, there were some lines in the poems that had the gang tripping, which begs the question: Is it a good poem if it does not?

Overall, it led us into a deep discussion of not only the poem itself, but the original Hansel and Gretel tale (and no, not the Disney version, but the original original by the Grimm brothers).

Who knows how or why we started talking about “Say Anything,” but we did, and Kathleen was incredulous that there was anyone left in America who hadn’t seen such an iconic film. 

The next poem “Hansel At His Stepmother’s Grave,” wowed the gang with its jaw-dropping rhythm, which had Kathleen saying "Holy Moly" in more ways than one. Everyone agreed it was executed beautifully.

Jason went the extra mile and did a bit of quick research helping us to dig even deeper into the poem. This was a poem that not only evoked the emotions of our crew, but also explored the emotions of and between the characters within the original fairy tale and Sheffer’s poem.

However, this poem left the crew at a tie! Or as Joseph described it “high drama.” Listen in to find out what the final verdict was!

The last poem, “Hansel Prepares For the Future” offered yet another unique twist on the tale. Trust me folks, this is one you do not want to miss.

Let us know how we’re doing, Slushies!  Read on!

If you just can’t get enough Hansel and Gretel, Jason recommends Anna Marie Hong’s “H & G” and Marion recommends “Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods” by Tashini Doshi.



GetAttachmentThumbnail?id=AAMkADY3Njc0NGSusannah Sheffer teaches writing (and other things) to young people at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Sunderland, Massachusetts. She also works as a therapist at a local mental health agency, often with people who have experienced trauma. All of this in some way informs her perspective on the Hansel and Gretel story. Susannah’s poetry chapbook This Kind of Knowing was published by Cooper Dillon Books in 2013 and more recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Copper Nickel, Tar River Poetry, the Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Her book Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys was also published in 2013. 




Home again, and it’s as if the forest
never happened. No one wants to hear about
that great indifference, or the lure
of the witch house, or what we had to do
to save ourselves. I understand they won’t talk
about the hunger, the banishing, how easy it was
to be rid of us. So I don’t say anything
about the forest inside me. I don’t tell them
that trees grow behind my eyes at night,
or how I sometimes want to touch the bark
because I learned to cherish its rough
comfort. I’ll do the remembering
myself, letting it make of me what it will
as memory does, with its own moonlit trail,
bread crumbs, peril, revelation.
It’s not as if I can’t understand
why you did it. I couldn’t stand
it either, the house so groaning and
bent at the knees, the cupboards
with their gaping mouths,
our useless hands. And the demon
in my belly, the reproach it put
on my face – I would have ripped it out
if I could have, so I understand
why you said we had to go. Did you think
we didn’t hear you? Even then
we were good at lying still and
listening to the sounds the night makes.
Did you think that even then we wouldn’t
try to find our way back to you?
Bread isn’t good enough;
he understands that now.
It’s too soft, too porous, too
yielding, and he knows now
that what is scattered at night
can be gone by morning.
Whenever he goes outside now
he keeps his eyes on the ground,
scanning for something
so cunning and indelible
that next time someone
sends him away
he will have what he needs
to resist the thieving world.

Episode 65: Cowboys and Baristas and Co-ops, Oh My!

Episode 65: Cowboys and Baristas and Co-ops, Oh My!

April 15, 2019

Welcome to Robe-isode II—the one where Kathleen is in her robe instead of Jason! Though Tim Fitts, Ali (The Co-op) and Zoe Heller were in the studio in Philly, (hopefully in their outdoor clothes) most of the gang was not present in the studio for this recording. Instead, they could be found in the comfort of hotel rooms, coffee shops and such, relying on modern technology to bring everyone in on the show!

After some fun banter about ice cream sandwiches rolled in bacon bits, chocolate milk spiked with salt, and other reminiscences, they were ready to get down to business.  (We never believed for a second that Jason now works as a barista.)

Both poems discussed in this podcast were by Ryan Clark. (Poems below the bio!)

First up was “Creta Mine.” Jason described its initial tempo as adagio. Everyone else seemed to agree, in their own words, as the first part was slow and soothing, while the rest was more upbeat.

They also applauded this poem as it focused on a topic rarely given the light of day: abandoned towns.

Next up was “Crossing Trails: Cowboy to Homesteader” which received props for its intriguing formatting, resembling a river. Just take a look at the actual poem for yourself. The “river” is like seeing a shape in a cloud, you’ll either see it, or you won’t.

Discussion surrounding this poem was followed by a long silence as the gang pondered on the piece. Remember when you listen: silence is the sound of thinking!

In order to even more fully appreciate the work, Kathleen gave us a peek inside Clark’s cover letter, which is rarely ever done on the Slush Pile.

The author used “homophonic translation,” to produce these poems. Listen to the podcast for a more in-depth description of the technique given by the author himself.

Clark’s cover letter was so fascinating to point the crew decided that it would have to be published with the piece as an artist’s statement.

The show wrapped with some of our favorite things: Tim recommends everyone visit every taco shop in San Francisco.  His opinion should be trusted, since he bragged about cooking burritos for a year after college. Kathleen would like us to listen to the On Being episode with Sharon Olds.

This is Ali's last podcast as it is his last week working for DPG, so unfortunately, you won’t be hearing him as much around here in future podcasts. *cue the boos* However, he did leave us with the last words, “we’ll survive.”

Let us know what you think of the show, the mag, our voices, and whether or not you’ve ever sprinkled salt in your chocolate milk! 



Ryan Clark was born in what was once part of Greer County, Texas, but which now makes up the southwestern corner of Oklahoma. Thus, his parents would tell him that while he was born in the state of Oklahoma, he was--more importantly--born in the Republic of Texas. Today, he is strangely obsessed with borders and the doubling power of puns. As a result, he writes his poems using a unique method of homophonic translation that re-sounds existing texts based on each individual letter's potential for sound (i.e. "making puns out of everything"). He is the author of How I Pitched the First Curve (Lit Fest Press, 2019), and his poetry has recently appeared in YemasseThe ShoreriverSedgeFlock, and Homonym. He is a winner of the 2018 San Antonio Writers Guild contest, and his work has been nominated for Best of the Net. He currently teaches creative writing at Waldorf University in Iowa, where he misses the relative temperateness of Texoma winters very much.



Creta Mine

for Creta, Oklahoma, no longer a town





Touch Creta wherever you want to seize a thing from out of the unfriendly earth.


This is a sound we make furious with mineral imagination, the heave of site


advertising what we love of the future, but which is just land unsuitable for farming.


Mine is a cover for rocks much like the rest but only these are mine—


this is a land that only I can open, and I will line my position with structures.





To churn a crust into use,

you must take a skin and

tear the layers through a mill,

where the word copper is processed

from unwanted versions of redness

the earth has retained. Then,

from the freshly revealed form,

make units of yield. Sell this

in a quantity that feeds

the mine you discovered

when you bought what a place is.





A town of Creta forgot to catch a feel for history, leaving nothing.


The mines opened after the wake had evened out.


This is how everything is fit to the bundle of was—not a trace of splash


but the unavoidable loss of stillness pulsing in new ways.


What left the land knew the dirt as well as the miners had.


Towns create enormous piles of knowing, of dreams


sown into everything in the dead of night.


It is not dug up and carried away.


It will not be processed.





At the mile where a body was,

I see nothing but a road-divided land.

Trucks shake through the area automatic.

Such is a repossessed story of Creta:

contained in a line just for a moment,

it drags its traces with it way out of sight.

You send pounding feels toward the sound

of its rumors and know this is over already.

No foot is large enough to drive itself

through years of dirt. Time shovels

its song deep and unaware.





Wide the pay of oil, wide the machine to drill, wide

enough to hide a blue sky in unceasing width of hope,

wide enough to force it down with eventual losses,

down where you realize you were wrong to spend

so much to take apart the deep earth.


Among the early efforts to make of Creta a way to take,

this was a faint passing through the rustling of its scrub brush.

Each of its resources refused to make productive land enough

for a town, and so miners shred their hands for awhile

and leave unused parts far more patient than money.





In a roughly peopled width of space, Creta is a sign grown into


fathers and rust-turf, mothers and wind-dress, a thought just looking


outside at the everyday the town never got to reach.


The mine is not only a word for economy and scratch,


but also the way the home hears itself in a mind.



Crossing Trails: Cowboy to Homesteader

for Warren, Oklahoma





We tether to a bend

in a fork in a mud-

faced river. It is

much more complex

than this

course of trails

that drained us

through the past, this

loud gathering of

cows that has given us

this process for roots

as to

what living has

launched us here.


Our settlement grew

at the feet of granite

in a wildness of grasses

flattened hard

as a crossing.


Here are engines

we turn into a way

to make a home,

into a way to feel love

at the view of

really any fixed thing

when we are

away for as long

as it takes to see it

with the eyes

of return. We

place ourselves

at the road

where pass a wide

thread of cattle,

and we stay

to build when

the thread is cut.





To be a product of the Great Plains


you must become a line with a series


of hooks holding you in the dirt.


The force you fear is the wind—


it isn’t history in the usual sense,


but it does pull you out and forget.





Religion assures us as a sound heavy enough

to anchor a Warren uncrossed by the herds of the past.


We are a strong series of ties in a building fit to purpose.

We imagine the spirit entering the skin and talking.


What thing do we have as a way to hold each other

on the frontier except for this. The building of rooms


extends with the distance from isolation we are in prayer,

and these rooms are remade over years as signs of Warren’s existing.


For everyday that we are full we are a town that continues rising out of grasses.

The Skink, The Witches, and the Ghost of Tim Fitts

The Skink, The Witches, and the Ghost of Tim Fitts

March 18, 2019

One of the things we love about our podcast is that it  brings together speakers from all over the world. Getting to see and hear Marion and Samantha is our main reason to love modern technology! 

The topic of discussion rotated around three poems written by Anne V. Devilbiss (apologies again, Ann!  Maybe it’s a nice thing that Kathleen saw your name containing “bliss?”  ). 

More about the poet: Ann V. DeVilbiss has had poems in BOAATCrab Orchard ReviewThe Maine ReviewPangyrus, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2017 Betty Gabehart Prize in poetry and an Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council. Via the Love in the Street project, Ann has a poem forthcoming on a sidewalk in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, where she lives with her partner and two perfect cats.   

It was a wonder how Kathleen was able to function normally after drinking enough to coffee wake up a classroom full of college students during finals week. In fact, she was quick to volunteer and took on the task of reading the first poem, “Spelled to Cultivate Gentlemen. 

Within this poem, there was one word that got everyone talking, “skink.” Everyone proceeded to “call up” Tim Fitts, one of our main editors, who was not able to make this recording.  We all assumed to know what a skink is, as he always refer to his Florida chidlhoodMarion went as far as to do an imitation of Tim.  They consense was if they have alligators, they must have these baby-alligator-like creatures as well, right?  

Overall, the poem was described to be smooth in its wording and calming to the ears. These “spells” worked on us.  

Kathleen reminded the audience about part of our editorial processVery few of our staff ever see these poems before they get to the table.  

Kathleen claimed her own  witch potential. She gave us chills as she described how lights sometimes flickered when she entered rooms (maybe she’s a ghost?) and the things she thinks sometimes come into fruition (or maybe she’s God? God is a woman, after all). Then, Marion was revealed to be an unintentional witch, which had us wondering if Kathleen and Marion’s friendship was a pure coincidence? 

Maybe our answer could be found in the book “Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive” written by Kristen J. Sollee, a suggested read by Samantha. 

Next up was “Spell to Begin Again” in which Marion described the techniques used by Anne as “f***ing brilliant.” 

We would like to interrupt this summary with a tip for our readers: Were you baking cookies, only to realize that you were all out of sugar? No worries! Just grab that molasses everyone has in the back of their pantries for no apparent reason and save yourself a trip to the store! (Ask Google if you don’t believe us.) 

Unfortunately, Jason had to take off early from the podcast. As soon as he left, Marion and Kathleen, proceeded to gossip about him. They joked about his stealing Kathleen’s satin pajama pants. However, Kathleen admits that his butt looked great in them and Jason must have known it too, as he shamelessly shared pictures of the crime. 

The next poem read was “Spell for Empty Hands, which was the last of Anne’s poems to be voted into publication. I guess those incantations really do work! 

To end this podcast, we would like to give a BIG congratulations to PBQ editors, Samantha Neugebauer and fellow poet Amna Alharmoodi for winning second place in the UAE for creativity in Literature We’ll share more details on that soon! 

Read on! 

Episode 63: Tripletime!

Episode 63: Tripletime!

February 28, 2019

Greetings everyone, Slush Pile is fast approaching three years of publication. To honor this we have a rather excellent episode today. After some introductions, the gang discusses what they have been up to since their last sightings. Kathleen informs us of a catastrophe she had back at home involving her new kittens. Luckily Marion’s mother was in prime position to swoop in and save the day with a valuable shred of information. Afterwards we get right into the work of Stephanie Bolster. 

Stephanie Bolster has published four books of poetry, the most recent of which, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth, was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award. Work from her current manuscript,Long Exposure, was a finalist for the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize. Her first book, White Stone: The Alice Poems, won the Governor General’s and the Gerald Lampert Awards in 1998. Her work has been translated into French (Pierre Blanche: poèmes d’Alice), Spanish, German, and Serbo-Croatian. Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 and co-editor of Penned: Zoo Poems, she was born in Vancouver and teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montréal. 

The first piece ANCESTORS has the editors performing an in-depth dissection that is a must listen. Jason expresses the idea that one’s ancestors reflect a mirror of themselves and the modern popularity of services like 23andme. 

The second work THE ZONE bring up images of Chernobyl and the question of whether or not one is inclined to look up references to works in poems. Before the vote Jason admits that he commits abhorrent movie taboo.  

Do these pieces make the cut? Or will the fall into the obscurity of history. Listen on and find out! 



We didn’t know them. They’re in us the way a mirror is.

Whomever they loved we never knew. There is a mouth
in a photograph that has a certain heat but we do not know
that mouth. It is whose we might have kissed had we been then.
It is a stitch missed or loosed a twitch resisted.
They held their heads still which gave them the look
of stone or ghosts. Eyes held open so they are the dolls
they played with, porcelain, chips hidden
under the hair. Lie them back and they’d shut
into their carriages without a hum their skin
the dusky grey of dust even their hair
past gloss and pulled so taut it hurts.




In the film before it happened
there is no answer there is no question.

What you wish for’s better left unknown.
The water they lie in flotsam and fishes.

When they enter the Zone there’s colour.
This happened decades earlier.

When the house landed on the witch.
It’s never easy in a place of colour.

Each leaf interrogates beauty.
In both there are dogs.

For men a place of freedom. Far enough
inside the self there is no self outside.

His wife tells the lens
she could not have lived a different life.

She covers him with a jacket. While he sleeps
their daughter moves glasses with her mind.

Through the pipe of fear to where.
They call it the meat grinder.

Downstream from a chemical plant it seeped
their deaths into them. They met it in reflections.

You can’t go back the way you came.
Next time will be different.

—Note: Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker was released in 1979, seven years before the Chernobyl disaster and forty years after The Wizard of Oz.

Episode 62: Six Degrees of Separation

Episode 62: Six Degrees of Separation

February 13, 2019

Welcome back to another Painted Bride Quarterly Slush Pile. Today we have an excellent episode with a bit of something different. After a set of introductions in which Marion gets out her glue gun the gang dives right into a piece of non-fiction by Andrew Bertania labeled “The Offering”.  

Andrew Bertaina's work has appeared or is forthcoming in many publications including: The Best American Poetry 2018, The ThreePenny Review, Tin House online, Redivider, Crab Orchard Review and Green Mountains Review. More of his work is available at 

After an excellent reading by Kathleen, Tim describes how churches offer less of a sense of community these days; being more concerned with hellfire and crucifixion. Next, Marion describes how the piece offers a sense of timelessness while lamenting on her own exhaustion from various teaching duties. Marion contends that the piece allowed her to compose herself and gave her a sense of fulfillment. Samantha speaks a bit on curation, and how that differs from what is displayed on social media. Before voting Tim mentions how historically specific the piece is, and the idea of somebody that you used to know. Will this piece make the cut? Or will it fade into obscurity?

The Offering

At church this morning, I passed around a collection plate to gather up the scraps of all the people I have known. The bowl was silver and its size was like that of space. Inside, I found: a hike through a hailstorm in Colorado where blue jays where eating other bird’s babies; I found an evening spent from midnight till morning talking about the way that I dreamed of divinity; I found a piece of a tetherball string, still wound tightly around a silver pole; I found a pocket of gummi worms, unopened, thrown in the trash can at recess; I found a small side yard where I dug for dinosaur bones; I found a picture with the words I love you written across the top; I found tears and tears, until I was swimming through all the tears, trying to remember why we are all such bizarre puzzles; I found a slip of paper with someone’s e-mail on it that I threw in the trash; I found a cabin in the woods with a couch and a blanket; I found a picture of you standing with me in the same shirt I wore only two weeks ago, but it was more than a decade ago; I found that the years start to run together like water that you can’t separate out the moments that you used to; I found pictures of people in wedding dresses and tuxedos, people that I used to know, and I smiled at their happy faces, because they made me happy when I knew them; I found a picture of San Francisco, stiff breezes off the bay, always so damn cold, and inside the picture was another picture of a hospital, and inside that hospital a memory of people who are now dust; I found an evening in the mountains of Santa Barbara, and a sunrise too; I found a picture of five of us sitting in a room talking about the ways in which we had failed, the ways in which we’d like to succeed; I found a picture of a piano and green couches; I found a picture of a mountain trail, pine trees and old bear scat; I found a picture of the ocean, of your hand in mine, before we glided together. I found a picture of a tower in Italy, a winding staircase leading to a view of some ancient city.

I spent the evening afterward, sorting all these pictures into specific piles.

Afternoons that could have lasted forever.

Times I went to the ocean.

Women that I have loved.

Women that I did not have the time to get around to loving.

People that I once knew.

People that I used to know and wish I still knew.

Avenues that I have walked down.

Avenues that I wish I had walked down.

Pictures of places that I am not remembering properly.

After I was done organizing these moments, I wrote them all down on the computer screen, which flickered, in and out just like memory does. I know that thousands, millions, far more numerous than the stars, are still missing. I want you to know that I’m trying to remember all of you, despite the futility of it. I’m reaching out to the people I have known and the people I will know. I miss all of you already, so the next time you see me, let’s meet, not was if we were strangers, but as people who have, for longer than they can remember, been very much in love.

Episode 61: Welcome to The Petri Dish

Episode 61: Welcome to The Petri Dish

January 30, 2019

Today the Philadelphia is blessed with Marion Wren’s presence, who is the director of NYU’s Abu Dhabi writing program. The discussion started with the flu epidemic hitting Philadelphians, which Marion even said made her feel as if she was “swimming in a petri dish”. Then, Kathleen once again, regales the listeners about CBD and the miracles of a concoction of B12 and Vitamin C that has saved her from catching any kind of sickness going in and out of the hospital to visit her father. Moreover, she vouches that CBD has helped her with sleep after “15 years of sleep meds”. Talk about a miracle drug! 

Then, without further adieu, the gang jumps in to the poems for the day. The three poems discussed on this podcast were written by Emily Cousins, a teacher and poet in Denver, Colorado.  

The first poem was titled, “Refuse To Write You”. The gang discussed how some lines were a bit awkward, but were masterfully saved by the following lines. Hilariously, Ali compares Cousins writing “I’m not going to write you a love poem” to “I’m not going to write you a love song” by Sara Bareilles. You just cannot un-hear something like that. Thanks for the valuable input, Ali! We are so sad to see you go in three months!  

They discussed the meaning of the poem, in which Marion thought it represented a rocky` relationship, while Kathleen got that it portrayed the author’s hesitation to commit.  

Next up were two short poems, the first being “To Make Space.” Marion suggested that it read like a prayer, which Ali echoed sounded like a mantra. The crew discussed the freshness of the piece and the originality of ideas. Also, an issue discussed was the lack of images, the barely seen image of the seed. Although, Marion did argue that the poem promotes mindfulness so the images should not be focused on too much.  

The last poem discussed was “With Fruition”. It raised up arguments from the weather around the world to its “meditative” qualities. 

Finally it came time to vote, did these pieces earn their love songs, or will they wilt into obscurity, listen on and find out!  

*“Two Out of Three” by Meat Loaf plays* 


Episode 60: Line of Apogee

Episode 60: Line of Apogee

January 16, 2019

Painted Bride Quarterly presents another especially excellent episode of Slush Pile. This is of course because we are joined by Pushcart Prize winner and newly annointed #PeopleOfThePile BJ Ward!

BJ Ward is an American poet. Ward is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize (Anthology XXVIII, 2004) for poetry and two Distinguished Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He has published three full books of poetry and has been featured in many journals including: Cerebellum, Edison Literary Review, Journal of Jersey Poets, Kimera, Lips, Long Shot, Maelstrom, Mid-American Review, Natural Bridge, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poetry, Puerto del Sol, Prairie Winds, Spitball, and TriQuarterly. His poem "For the Children of the World Trade Center Victims," is cast in bronze and featured at Grounds for Sculpture, an outdoor sculpture museum in Hamilton, New Jersey. Ward is an Assistant Professor of English at Warren County Community College and has served as University Distinguished Fellow at Syracuse University. BJ Ward is an active educator in a number of realms. He teaches writing workshops in the public school system throughout New Jersey, and his work there earns him yearly residencies in many school districts.

After introductions, and Kathleen teasing a potential tale regarding flea killing solution, we dive into two pieces by James Arthur, On a Marble Portrait Bust in Worcester, Massachusetts and Study.

James Arthur was born in Connecticut and grew up in Toronto. He is the author of The Suicide’s Son (Véhicule Press 2019) and Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon Press, 2012.) His poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Review of Books, and The London Review of Books. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, and a Fulbright Scholarship. Arthur lives in Baltimore, where he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. In 2019, he is Visiting Fellow at Exeter College, University of Oxford.

Bj offers a masterful observation in his analysis of Study, which offers the reader a bit of an interesting existential question. After Marion is untimely raptured, and Tim’s emphatic urging for Ali to fight guests of the Podcast, the gang votes on the first piece before moving on to On a Marble Portrait Bust in Worcester, Massachusetts. The editors offer a gambit of opinions on the piece and eventually come to a final vote.

After the poems are voted on Kathleen regales the listeners with a tale about CBD oil and Flea remover, in addition to praising the benefits of the substance.

How did the poems do? Did they make the cut? Listen On and find out!

Episode 59: Emi’s Barbaric YAWP!

Episode 59: Emi’s Barbaric YAWP!

December 13, 2018

Hello! Welcome to another episode of Slush Pile! This episode is chock full of laughs and language exploration. After discussing Jason’s impressive performance in the weight room the gang rolls right into the introductions. Afterwards Kathleen goes balls to the wall and presents an interesting question for our listeners. Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slush Pile has started a poll to determine the names we will call our listeners. After discussing the options, we throw the choice back at you. After the madness that is our editors initial discussion we begin the discussion of two pieces by David Rock labled “Just Gravy” and “Driving through Idaho”.

David Rock has work appearing in The Carolina Quarterly, The Laurel Review, The Bitter Oleander, The Chattahoochee Review, Image, New American Writing, and other journals. An Idaho native, he teaches Spanish and international studies at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg.

The first piece was interrupted by the barbaric yawp of Marion Wrenn’s beloved cat, Emi knows good poetry! The gang goes into depth with Rock’s amazing use of metaphors in “Just Gravy” and his excellent use of sound.

The second piece “Driving through Idaho” was luckily devoid of a cat-astrophe. The editors discuss the way the poem captures the spirit of a long ride. After some debate among the editors they move to a vote. Will these pieces make the cut? Slushies or Peeps? Stay tuned in and find out!

Episode 58: Gobsmacked is my Mantra

Episode 58: Gobsmacked is my Mantra

November 20, 2018

This week’s episode of Slush Pile sees a newcomer to the table, but not a stranger to PBQ. John Wall Barger's poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Cincinnati Review, Subtropics, The Malahat Review, and he has published two collections, and most importantly, to us, he is now an editor for Painted Bride Quarterly! After John drops a quick bombshell about his new book coming out in the spring of next year, Jason laments about the supreme court striking an arduous blow to his union. When everyone is done grieving over the absence of beloved editor Marion Wrenn (where in the world is she now? Florence?) the gang dives right into three poems by two different authors starting with Karen Neuberg’s “Same House.”

 Karen Neuberg’s poems and collages appear in numerous journals including 805, Canary, Epi-graph Magazine, and Verse Daily. She’s a multiple Pushcart and a Best-of-the-Net nominee, holds an MFA from The New School, is associate editor of the online journal First Literary Re-view East, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her latest chapbook is “the elephants are asking” (Glass Lyre Press, 2018)

 “Same House” sparks an in-depth discussion about memories and nostalgia. Several of the editors comment on pieces of language that they admire as well as how their own nostalgic experiences can relate to the narrative. After a quick vote the board moves onto two poems written by Sadie Shorr Parks labeled “Lunacy” and “Good Sleep.”

 Sadie Shorr-Parks grew up in Philadelphia but currently lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where she teaches writing at Shepherd University. Outside of creative writing, Sadie dabbles in calligraphy, painting, stop animation, embroidery, and puppetry. She likes to start her day by doing the NYT Crossword and hopes to enter the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2019. Sadie’s creative writing can be found in Witness Magazine, Sierra Nevada Review, Appalachian Heritage, and Blueline, among others. Her book reviews can be found with Los Angles Review of Books, Southern Literary Review, and Iowa Review.

The gang begins to explore the pieces by Sadie Shorr-Parks discussing the risks and interesting qualities of her pieces. Kathleen and the gang do a great job at breaking down some of the intricacies of Sadie’s work. Will these pieces make the cut? Listen and find out!

The group ended the episode in their usual manner: Tim Fitts challenged ANY LISTENER to challenge our co-op, Ali, to an MMA battle, while Kathleen and Jason happily discussed their last visit to The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. (And don’t forget to celebrate 1970’s National Geographics and the French Revolution. Whaaaaa?)

Episode 57: Smitten with Sakura

Episode 57: Smitten with Sakura

November 8, 2018

Today is a special iteration of Slush Pile as we are graced with the excellent presence of two friends of Painted Bride Quarterly. Marion Wrenn has landed in a foggy Philadelphia and is causing trouble after being reunited with Kathleen. Also joining the gang is Isabella Fidenza, a graduate publishing student here at Drexel. Our first debate is flats vs heels for Marion's role as wedding celebrant during the upcoming weekend. After discussing the reasons for Marion leaving the desert and gracing us with her appearance in Philadelphia and Kathleen describing a harrowing experience while attempting to attend a book meeting for Trevor Noah’sBorn a Crime” the gang dives right in to two sonnets by Bino A. Realuyo.

BINO A. REALUYO has published poems in The Nation, The Kenyon Review, New Letters, Manoa: International Journal of Pacific Writing, Missouri Review, Puerto del Sol, and recently, in ZYZZYVA’s Resistance Issue.  These two sonnets are from his recently completed manuscript, The Rebel Sonnets.

His poetry collection, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door, received the Agha Shahid Ali Prize for Poetry in 2005. Its Philippine edition, published three years later, received the Philippine National Book Award for Poetry in 2009. He has received fellowships and awards from Yaddo, New York Foundation for the Arts (twice), Valparaiso in Spain, Urban Artist Grant, Queens Council on the Arts, and a Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from Poetry Society of America.  Realuyo is currently a NYSCA/New York Foundation for the Arts fellow in fiction. He works in the field of adult literacy, providing education and support for immigrants in New York City.

The first of the poems speaks on the impermanence of relationships in life using an excellent metaphor of cherry blossom or sakura. After a lengthy discussion and a vote the gang moves forward into the second piece which looks at the correlation between relationship and a tea ceremony. What do you think? Is Jason Schneiderman’s nick name “The Ray of Gloom” appropriate? Will we ever find out what Marion was going to wear? Will these pieces be accepted? Or will they wilt as the cherry blossoms always do? Listen on and find out!

Episode 56: Mox Nox

Episode 56: Mox Nox

October 17, 2018

This episode is particularly special as present in Drexel’s Korman Studio is a very special friend of PBQ, Elizabeth Scanlon.

Elizabeth Scanlon is the Editor of The American Poetry Review. She is the author of Lonesome Gnosis (Horsethief Books, 2017), The Brain Is Not the United States/The Brain Is the Ocean (The Head & The Hand Press, 2016) and Odd Regard (ixnay press, 2013). She is a Pushcart Prize winner and her poems have appeared in many magazines including Boston Review, Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, and others. She lives in Philadelphia.

After short introductions, and some technical difficulties in which our Abu Dhabi team is lost to the internet for just a brief moment, the gang jumps right into the work of Elizabeth Cantwell and her works “Housewarming” “Emergency Queen” “The People Who Live in Boats”.

Elizabeth Cantwell is a poet and high school teacher living in Claremont, CA. Her first book, Nights I Let the Tiger Get You, was a finalist for the 2012 Hudson Prize; she is also the author of a chapbook, Premonitions. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of journals, including The Cincinnati Review, DIAGRAM, The Missouri Review, and Hobart.

Her first piece “Housewarming” had the editors reflecting on the pieces excellent use of reassuring imagery and line spacing. After some short discussion and a vote, the gaggle of editors move on to the second poem “Emergency Queen,” which is rife with ,”“delicious words according to Kathleen. After exploring the intricacies of the piece the gang moves on to the final piece of the batch “The People Who Live in Boats”. Structured into a giant prose block, this piece doesn’t even slightly resemble the form of the poems which preceded it. With this piece, Elizabeth takes us to what can be referred to as image school. The editors practically have a gleeful field day, it’s so much fun deconstructing all of the intricacies of this final piece. What do you think? Do all of these pieces make the cut? Or will time devour them as it does everything else? Listen and let it be revealed!

Episode 55: Prison Whiskey and Big Brother

Episode 55: Prison Whiskey and Big Brother

August 30, 2018

This week on the Slush Pile we welcome our great friend John Wall Barger into the Korman Studio for another fantastic iteration of our podcast! The gang gets rolling by discussing their various summer activities and Kathleen suggests hypnotism to anyone who is attempting to rid themselves of a nasty habit. Marion informs the group that she is currently residing in North Carolina near a prison that has been turned into a whiskey distillery. This of course segues into conversation about the poet whom has taken the spotlight, Susan Grimm and her two pieces “Made Manifest/Glassy” as well as “A Fest of Wishes: Birthday Ghazal"

Susan Grimm is the author of Almost Home (Cleveland State University Poetry Center 1997), Lake Erie Blue (BkMk Press 2004), and Roughed Up by the Sun’s Mothering Tongue (Finishing Line Press 2011). Her work has appeared in Blackbird, The Journal, The Cortland Review, Seneca Review, and Tar River Poetry. She earned an MFA in poetry through the Northeast Ohio MFA consortium (NEOMFA) and teaches creative writing part-time at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She also occasionally teaches classes for Literary Cleveland. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and can be found online at The White Space Inside the Poem.

The first poem got the group pondering on the effects "big brother" has had on our society in addition to the younger generation's indifference to being watched. After a bit of in depth discussion as well as a vote the topic shifts to the second poem of the day which is applauded for its excellent use of language. What was the fate of these pieces? Does the gang ever get their hands on legitimate prison whiskey? Find out all of that and more inside of this Slush Pile.

Made Manifest/Glassy

Nanny cam. Traffic cam. Bank machine eye. Facial
recognition software. I imagine being watched

which I don’t have to imagine. Facebook’s old
photos. Look at that hair! Avatars which used to

mean gods, maybe sitting on lily pads. By the supreme
power of my two-legged presence. Or two thumbs.

Maps in the front of books or the glove compartment
where there are no gloves. Every time the left hand

turn off of Clifton like a disappointed hummingbird.
Peacock’s eye. I have my eye on you. Dream

scraps invigilate the movie of my intention. Daisies.
Nipples. There’s you and the you you say you are.

Potato eye (gouged out). Eyedropper. I-land.
My stories are not about you. The small window high up

like a letterbox to peer through. Somewhere a crumpet of light.


Fest of Wishes: A Birthday Ghazal

Obdurate leaning pine, rough-barked, this witch’s
wooden prism, the organs damp, high-colored like sequestered caves—my best wishes.

Wet, red fist. The heart grown larger like a pearl, a bird
that strains at the top of the ribs, breaks from my chest like a zest of wishes.

Each day like a caught breath, a love blow. There can never be
enough—gasping, swollen, luminous—arrested by wishes.

Trolling for the unobserved—road smoke, a gravel pit
of years, the caution tape (that clean bird not yet bested by wishes).

That it should go on—the moon riding above me like a promise
in the sky, a milky penny fitted to its slot—the rest of my wishes.

Present at the Editorial Table:

Kathleen Volk Miller

Tim Fitts

Marion Wrenn

John Wall Barger

Ali Ziabakhsh-Tabari


Engineering Producer:

Joe Zang


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