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Two poems by James Butler-Gruett

Updated: Apr 30

Moony Wednesday


It’s the kind of day

when I take a muscle relaxer

and photoshop myself into Versailles.

I’ve got two dry-erase markers

with a filthy doodle ready

to emerge from them

and Gabe won’t respond

to the links I sent him. Roll around

in an office chair, take a video,

unbutton just the top.


Even inside Versailles, Louis XIV

smelled bad and had an anal fistula.

I looked it up, and let me tell you this:

Do not do that. Save yourself


the image, the image isn’t so dire.

Words are always enough.

Among friends and notfriends

I have tried recently to what I call

cultivate an aura of menace.. .As in,

Around myself tonight, I’m cultivating

a teacherly aura of menace. Stomp

between the desks, sneer and leer.

I ask a student what the sight of

a full moon means to her. I say it seems

menacing. She says she sees it cold,

lonesome, all askew, nothing like the sun king.




Ghost Gun


There should be a word for me

like the British have a zed for z

some term for what of thought is real

and not a spook. There should be a

phantom strike, a flop that no one

balks at, a skinwalk shed of copy

and concealed. Sometimes I worry

I’m a ghost gun, fired without number

into every spirit passing on the street.

Sometimes I’m flensed, flayed of freight,

afraid and late, a sometimes itch,

a two-days’ growth of stubble on

my brain.


What’s the word for fog that freezes as it

brushes on your windshield,

an aunt who wore strings of pearls

white like polished rice?

I hear the crackle of new packaging

the whisper of carbonation

and each of you I see is a serial

number away from a weapon.



James Butler-Gruett's writing has been published in Poetry London, DIAGRAM, the Millions, HAD, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Arizona MFA program, he teaches creative writing in York, NE. Find him on Twitter @etinarcadia3go.

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