Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slush Pile

Episode 42: Love Shack

September 27, 2017

This week features three poems by two authors: “Gala Dali Speaks Broken French” and “What Can Happen to Women and Men” by Wendy Cannella and “Nightmare” by Jana-Lee Germaine.  Wendy Cannella once fronted a rock band in Boston, back when everyone fronted a rock band in Boston…

This week’s episode of Slush Pile features three poems by two authors: “Gala Dali Speaks Broken French” and “What Can Happen to Women and Men” by Wendy Cannella and “Nightmare” by Jana-Lee Germaine. 

Wendy Canella

Wendy Cannella once fronted a rock band in Boston, back when everyone fronted a rock band in Boston. She is an avid supporter of the local arts and leads writing workshops, runs a reading series or two, serves on the board of the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Project, and generally embarrasses her children by volunteering in the classroom on Poem in Your Pocket Day (what, didn’t your mom ever hide poems in your jean jacket?). You can find her work in various places including Fogged Clarity, Houseguest, Mid-American Review, Salamander, and Solstice. She continues to play the same few guitar chords, sing off-key, and speak many languages brokenly.


Jana-Lee Germaine

Jana-Lee Germaine recently moved from Massachusetts to a small village in the English countryside where she lives in the old post office, homeschools her 4 children, and has thoroughly embraced the idea of beans for breakfast. 

She is an avid runner and cyclist (will it ever stop raining?) and has recently taken up weightlifting, despite the fact that her mother thinks it will make her look weird. Her favorite holiday is the 4th of July (not celebrated in the UK, for obvious reasons). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Potomac Review and Naugatuck River Review.

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Present at the Editorial Table:

Kathleen Volk Miller

Tim Fitts

Marion Wrenn

Sharee DeVose

Jason Schneiderman


Engineering Producer:

Amber Ferreira




Wendy Cannella

Gala Dali Speaks Broken French

Of the spinning wheels—trés vite

and straight


from the States of the United

to Montréal City. Of the heavy


traffic—bumper to bumper—and us, look

at us, full to the brim, a clown car


of activists, caravan

of aerialists,


and suddenly I pull my black hat

down lower over my forehead, telling each of you


which lines are yours to sing, wanting it all so badly


to lead into the poem—



up Footloose, snapping back

the door handles

to escape like Smurfs


into the congested highway

—and this takes us

nowhere, egotism of drawing

attention, egotism of dwelling on


those swaying hips—between stopped cars—


but this is it, this is where

we dance the good


little dancing, I mean some

excellent shaking—will you make it

meaningful in the end? Will you


make out with me? For the moment will you hold

the wheel—I’m taking my sweater

off and the stars

seem so agitated up there


trembling in their deep space

and that is just the sort of dramatic

gesture we’ve come to expect


from the stars and one after another our

sweaters are cast off.  The traffic starting

to move again, the drivers left


with the unsettling ache of knowing

they have teeth inside

their tender mouths—strangeness

of the body, and of living—through them the breath

of words. I think. Je pense. I believe.


Je crois. I feel. Je sens. The neck

and the shoulders. Le visage. I never thought


I had power to hurt

anybody. I can barely make sense.

But why else would I coerce the entire universe


into bowing before my imagination,

bestowing a corny nickname

on each of us. You’re Mama and I’m

La Bamba—let’s cover


the world with our America, yeah let’s take it


with us to the Jazz Festival—where all of us—my Papa, my Painter,

my Smurfette—my friends all of us my friends made wreaths


of our foolishness

and I made a nice wreath

I wear it around my face


all night, the prayer for you

to touch me.

Symphatique, symphatique.

This is nice. It feels good.


You want to hear something else, something sophisticated


in French but I’m far

too young to know what it is you want. I know only one phrase.


It tells us when the music moves

you will hold my hand and eat

from my hand—it tells me the whole bright blue


night is a crown. So here is my

stupid, unstoppable tongue.

If you misunderstand,

you misunderstand.


Wendy Cannella

What Can Happen to Women and Men

                                           Honey honey the call is for war

                                           And it’s wild wild wild wild

                                        —Patti Smith “Ask the Angels”

I never met an angel

I didn’t like.


The one who knits hats

for newborns,


the one humming delusions

to the broken world,


forlorn angels

pacing the room,


pulling out

their own wings,



by feather,


stone angels

crumbling beneath


the pure

arch of love,


even the worst angel

there ever was,


I liked him especially,

with his motorcycle


and stolen jewelry,

his murderous thugs.


I rode with him

down the fiery path,


never asking

for more


than the opposite

of what we had,


the good reasons,

and the master plan—


which he failed

to fully envision.


Once, he gave me

Patti Smith


and Lou Reed

as examples


of what can happen

to women and men


who believe deeply

in upheaval—



a new form.


He made me think

I even liked


the idea of betrayal,

and for awhile


I sang

those kind of songs.


Jana-Lee Germaine


My son wakes to creaks and thumps

like boots on his bedroom floor.

They are here for him, they’ve found his room,

the demon with the hedge clippers

who stands against the wall,

or the man with the muddy shovel

waiting to tangle him in sheets

and bury him, still breathing, out in the yard.

Night moves around his room, grinning.

What he fears is pain he cannot handle –

us, dead in the other room –

and hands, not those attached to wrists,

but the kind that fingercreep along the floor.

He kicks the covers back,

brushes past the thumbs,

the clippers, the raised shovel,

he’s down the hall to our bedroom,

where we are still alive. When he says,

crawling between us,

I needed to know you were OK,

I kiss his head,

and the dark sits like a stone on my tongue.

What can I say to him tonight?

These things are real,

but not here. My own dreamer sits

sniggering on my shoulders,

elbows digging into my skull.


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