January 14, 2017

It’s Like The ‘Watch The Throne’ Of Tender Punk Poems is a split chapbook, written by myself and Misha Bee Speck. It contains poems both short and long–16 poems by Misha, 12 by me. It is the first official release put out by Bone & Ink Press, my new small press that will be publishing chapbooks of poetry, non-fiction, and experimental genres.

These tender punk poems are about gender and sex, about blood and heat, about dreams and anger and aching. They’re about what it means to live in a body and build a life as the world burns around you.

36 pages, ½ legal. Printed on white paper and staple-bound, then adorned with sparkly cardstock (you can choose gold or silver) and ribbon.

Available for $8 on Etsy.

December 27, 2016

I haven't posted here in a while, but I have had a lot of stuff going on. So here is some information about recent poems & zines & interviews, upcoming events, and more.

The biggest news is that in October I finally, finally finished Reckless Chants #23. It took me four months, and it was a challenge the whole time, but I'm pretty proud of the result.

Reckless Chants #23 is a long-form personal essay about loss, grief, violence, trauma, and mental illness, and also strength and healing–all tied together with thoughts on tears, crying, and sadness. It is one of the hardest things I have ever written, and one of the most important things I have ever written.

You can read some excerpts here, or purchase it via my Etsy shop.

I wrote a piece for issue #1 of POPS: Parents on Parenting, about my son's autism spectrum diagnosis.

I have a piece about mix tapes in Paper & Ink #9. (Which is worth getting for many reasons, not the least of which is the cover art--a gorgeous trib...

October 6, 2016

It is autumn, finally, thank the gods.

This summer was relentless. From June through mid-September, I was pretty much always manic or depressed or anxious, or some combination thereof. I felt completely rubbed raw. I couldn’t distance myself from the news of the world (and it’s been a hell of a year for bad news, hasn’t it?), or from my own personal sufferings. Most days, I’d wake up in the morning feeling like I was gonna kick the day’s ass, but by afternoon I’d feel like the day had kicked my ass and I’d wind up lying in bed, crying. And I drank a little too much this summer, to try and anesthetize myself, even though I know from experience that never does work. A drink or two takes the edges off my anxiety, but if I’m already feeling overemotional and I over-drink, all that happens is that I have an even harder time reigning my emotions in. And then I wind up doing things like locking myself in the bathroom at the bar or a friend’s house to cry.

Yeah, this summer was rough, and I wasn...

June 1, 2016

I was all "I'm going to update this site on a regular basis" and "I'm going to do my serious blogging on this site," and yes, I'm still planning on staying on top of both of those things, but I've been busy! I moved to a new house, and then immediately had to get started on writing pieces for upcoming events and working on a new issue of Reckless Chants, plus doing more book-release preparation and recording my spoken word album, as well as trying to enjoy life by wandering and reading and cooking lots of delicious food. So here are some things to tide you over:

 

You can preorder Reckless Chants #23, which is about the punk rock records I think are Most Essential.

 

I've got a couple new poems up at Rising Phoenix Review: the ocean writes a letter to the moon and in a black and invisible dress.

 

You can stream a couple of the tracks from my spoken word album: Everything Has Changed; Nothing is Different / And I Don't Want to Live This Life.

 

I've started a video series wherein I talk a...

November 11, 2015

 

A lot of big news here at Reckless Chants HQ - the biggest news being that I've recently been crowned 2015-17 Poet Laureate of Racine, Wisconsin! I have big plans for the next two years, so stay tuned.

 

Here's the current haps - 

 

I've had two more poems published in Rising Phoenix Review  - "All Through the Town (On a Bus in L.A.)" and "How to Build A Clock That Isn't a Bomb."

 

I'm working on a chapbook called The Girl With the Most Cake: poems about Courtney Love. You can read one of the poems here.

 

And this Saturday (November 14th) is Milwaukee Zine Fest. I'll be there selling my zines (including the brand-new Major Arcana of the Punk Rock Tarot), and also leading a perzine workshop. If you're going to be in the Milwaukee area, you should come on out!

October 17, 2015

The snow hushed the city sounds and from far far off came a chorus
of howls and yelps. Mama, I hear wolves, she said. Hush, my dear.
There are no wolves near. It’s only the wind in the dried old cornstalks,
only the whine of the furnace turning on
, said Mama. But the girl knew
no furnace yelped so high and wild, no wind howled so savage and
lonesome. She dreamt of dark fur speckled with glints of light like a
winter night sky, of a pool of warm red that spread across the fresh snow.

-from "little, red, wolf" (read more)

 

Pop music is a spell for staying young. I’m thirty-three

but you’d think I was seventeen, the way I’m carrying

on. My youth was all punk rock, girls who told me

about living fast and drinking in alleys. Told me to wear

ripped fishnets and leather jackets, fuck whoever I wanted

to, do whatever I fucking wanted to. Now that I’m older it’s

that tart pop that sings my song.

​-from "Popular Magic" (read more)

August 2, 2015

Imagine that night in Alphabet City when

we couldn’t find the bar we were looking

for. Everything was fire escapes, dirty

slush piles. A drugstore cowboy held up

a lamppost. The night was a dimestore

novel. We found another bar, with Edith

Piaf songs that spilled out onto the sidewalk,

went in for wine so sweet and too expensive.

And you in the window like a woman

in an Edward Hopper painting, surrounded

by people but alone unto yourself in the bar

light. In the dark that pressed in from

outside. -from "Dimestore Ghosts" (published at Uut Poetry)

 

I can’t find the beginning, so I begin with the music. I put the records on and I listen to the voices of these women, and as they sing they appear before me, flickering like footage from an old film. There is Billie Holiday, Lady Day singing the blues with flowers in her hair and veins full of opiates. With her golden reed of a voice, she sings her own pain – good morning, heartache – and the deeper pain of topics no one else will touch: Blood on th...

October 30, 2014

from the train window I saw the old me and my friends

who are ghosts. this is the haunting season

come devour me, ghouls.

then stepping out of the station, the cold wind like ghoul’s

teeth nipping, whipping

my bottle-red hair around my face so when I went to light

a nasty habit

I almost set myself on fire.

and whiskey burning from my flask down into my throat,

belly, toes

the deep south side

the Chinatown bars

photobooths, soul food, hipster music

and politics

the politics of fuck Rahm Emanuel, I don’t want to

Build a New Chicago, I want the old one back.

the politics of broken hearts.

we found a park

statues of stern men with fantasy novel names watched us

as we walked the gold-lit pathway that led

toward downtown, and the brick circle like a portal.

I wondered, if I lay my tobacco, zines, tallboy, notebook

on the four directions, would it unlock and open

the city of ten, fifteen years ago? all it opened was

the politics of cheap-as-hell burritos.

the politics of walking ‘til your feet hurt.

and I wept, whiske...

July 15, 2014

All Good Cretins Go To HeavenThe Inner Condition

 

The Ramones are the sonic version of my worn-in leather jacket. Comfortable, as familiar to me as my own skin, but putting it on still makes me feel more badass, and more like myself, than almost anything else. I have heard their music practically every day for what feels like my whole fucking life, and there’s still nothing else like it. I hear that 1-2-3-4, I hear those simple, pounding drumbeats, that chugging bass, the grind and whine of the guitar and the spaced-out nasal throaty voice, hey ho, and I am ready to change my name to Jessie Ramone and declare I will love Joey and Dee Dee and Tommy and Johnny until the end of time.

 

Poem Written In Red Pen (or: Write the Pain Away) @ The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society

 

He said he wouldn’t have sex with me if I wasn’t on The Pill.
I hate wearing condoms, and I don’t want you to get pregnant. You’d be
the same kind of mom that Sylvia Plath was.
The girl-poet mom. To be a girl poet means...

July 7, 2014

I was the sort of girl

who thought everything was a sign

 

A train delay meant I
should take off for somewhere else —
Philly or New York
Pittsburgh or Cincinnati

 

A wallet dropped next to a toilet
meant
that I’d always be broke
(but any fool can pay the bills)

 

A laptop that crashed and deleted
everything, twice
meant it wasn’t time
to tell that particular story

 

The fires that followed me
through St. Louis and back
to Chicago:
abandoned tenements, cop cars, trash cans
set smoldering
meant
I should burn my bridges
and grin broadly

 

The shoe that fell from my
foot and down the stairs
as I stumbled home
from the taqueria, drunk and stoned,
meant
that I was obviously
no Cinderella
There was no prince there to
pick it up

 

The old man playing accordion below
my bedroom window
The herd of cranes roosting
in the eerie dawn near Archer Avenue
could mean
anything

 

I consulted the tarot cards three
times a day
They gave me the same answers
over and over, but I
kept asking
“Travel,” they whispered, “and
t...

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© Copyright 2014-2019 by Jessie Lynn McMains