Becca Mathias: An Interview

Flowers. There’s a lot of them by now. And you may be thinking: hey, I’m cramped up in this cubicle without a window anywhere. I need some Mother Nature. Right now. So, you go. Drive, walk—or sprint even—to your nearest arboretum and indulge in the flora and scents of the season. But then, you hear it, the subtle, yet mechanic, click of a Canon DSLR somewhere in your general vicinity. You scour far and wide and see another human equally as eager to see the flowers, but knows how to get all the right angles.

Josh Dale: Hello, Becca. Thanks for allowing me to interview you! Don’t let me get in the way of your next photo spread, though. Why not tell everyone a bit about yourself?

Becca Mathias: Hey, Josh! I’m so excited, thank you! Well, hello there internet, I’m Becca Mathias and I’m a photographer based in Northern Delaware. I primarily specialize in portrait and wedding photography, but I’m passionate about food, live music, and nature photography as well. I’m a volunteer photographer for Longwood Gardens and I joke that I practically live there… so if you ever see me around, say hi! Wow… talking about yourself is hard (laughs).

JD: Luckily, there isn’t a studio mic or anything. Like wuth those little screens and such. So, you’re the lady behind the lens. How long have you been partaking in photography? Do you have any formal training? Self-taught?

BM: Growing up I always had a disposable camera. I’d take photos of anything and everything. I always joke that my first portrait session was of my American Girl doll placed around my backyard. I took a photography class in high school and thought my “macro” photos of my eyeball and black & white photos of my computer keyboard were the most impressive. Yikes! I went to Wilmington University for photography and graphic design. That’s when I actually learned how use a camera correctly. It wasn’t until after I graduated college in 2015 that I really found my own “eye” for photography. You can learn how to use a camera, but you can’t teach someone how to see. It’s really cool to see how much my work has improved over the last seven years.

JD: Alright, fair point. I don’t see myself as anything better than an iPhone photographer, but I do know lighting is paramount. What are some techniques, in layman’s terms, that you utilize?

BM: You’re absolutely correct, lighting is important! I personally love natural light. I enjoy the bright & airy style of photography. You’ll notice that a majority of my work is bright, clean, and colorful. I also enjoy shooting through/around objects. If you take a look at any of my Longwood Gardens work, you’ll see that I like to frame flowers with other flowers to give a soft feel around the corners of the photo.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with iPhone photography! It’s a great tool to develop your eye for photography, without having to understand ISO, shutter speed, and aperture which can get overwhelming when you’re just starting out.

JD: Whew! And I thought engineering jargon was too much. You make food look so good (laughs) especially at that Moroccan Tea Party. What do you consider your favorite subject to photograph? Also, were the confections super delicious?

BM: Oh boy, food photography is quickly become my favorite subject. Taking photos and eating good food? Those are my two favorite things combined! Natural window light is the key to good food photos. Recently I’ve been networking to get more opportunities in the food photography industry. I’m hoping it’s something I pursue more seriously.

I’m also extremely passionate about music photography, which stems from my love for listening to music and discovering new artists. Combining the two is a dream of mine. I’m always attending shows and the opportunities where I’m able to photograph a show are the best. I photographed Firefly Music Festival last summer and I’m still convinced that was a crazy dream. I love capturing artists emotions while on stage and then turning around to see how the crowd is reacting. It’s a beautiful moment to witness closely.

JD: When photographing people, do you feel the synergy of the moment? As in, do you feel the clients act or look differently when behind the camera?

BM: Photographing people is challenging. You have to earn their trust and make them feel extremely comfortable. Being in front of a camera is nerve wracking (laughs) which is why I stay behind the camera. I believe in capturing real, authentic moments. Feeling silly? Express it! I want the capture the real you. At weddings I try to be a fly on the wall, except for the formal photos which are more staged. I’ve been told numerous times from wedding clients that they didn’t even realize I was there most of the wedding… which is my goal!

JD: Don’t flies see in like sets of 8 or something? I think we’re better off with just two! That sounds impressive though. I was at a wedding in Virginia last summer and the photographer was all over the place! I’m sure You mentioned before that you frequent Kennett Square, PA. As an artist in your own right, how do you see the community there? Is it budding? Acceptive of different creatives?

BM: It’s funny, I drove through Kennett Square to get to Longwood Gardens for years before one day I finally decided to park and walk around the area. I can’t believe it took me so long to check it out! There’s great coffee at Philter, good local beer at Kennett Brewing Company, and tons of awesome small businesses such as WorKS. I’ve met a lot of friendly creatives in that area that I keep in touch with regularly, ranging from chocolate experts to writers to artists and photographers. I love surrounding myself with other creatives.

JD: That’s great to hear. I’ll have to make it out there sometime soon. Ever hear of East Coast Creative Collective (ECCC)? They are based out of Philly/South Jersey.

BM: I have not! But I do love finding local photography groups. Meeting and connecting with people is so important in the photography industry.

JD: I highly recommend checking them out. Could be right up your alley. Ok, so, total throwaway question: is a picture really worth 1000 words? Like, is it 1000 in one collective viewing or 1000 lifetime words? Do you change the frame every 1000 miles or?

BM: The cool thing about photography is that you can capture a moment and in that moment it could mean one thing, but later down the road it can have a totally different meaning. Everyone sees a photo differently and can apply their own meaning to it. That’s what’s so interesting about art.

JD: I see you have adopted two lovely kitties…I must know their names and horoscopes.

BM:  Yes! Those cute, little, plant-eating torties. They’re named Sage + Basil and I adopted them last September from a kitty cafe/rescue in Kennett Square. They were born June 13th, four days before my birthday, so we’re all Geminis. I already hear a collective sigh from the audience… us Geminis have a bad rep.

JD: I guess I’m a novice at all this. I know I’m a Cancer and that I’m probably too sappy for my own good…But anyways, thanks again for the interview. It was a lot of fun. If I could close out with one last question, and this is for my own personal satisfaction: is fisheye lens even a thing anymore? I kinda want to make a mid-90’s style band photo (if I ever end up in a band again that is).

BM: Thank you so much for thinking I’m even remotely interesting enough to deserve an interview (laughs). It’s been fun answering these questions. If any of your readers have any photography questions, they’re more than welcome to contact me through my website or Instagram! (below)

I personally never owned a fisheye lens, but they’re fun. There’s really no rules in photography. Do your own thing and go for it!

Photo courtesy of  Tanner Mathias    Becca Mathias is a Media Design and Photography graduate from Wilmington University, portrait and wedding photographer based in Northern Delaware. She enjoys photographing food, live music, and nature, with much of her nature photography taking place at Longwood Gardens, where she is a volunteer photographer. Checking out new breweries and restaurants is one of her favorite hobbies, along with spending time with her new kitties, Sage and Basil. View her portfolio at    and follow her on Instagram,    @beccamathiasphoto

Photo courtesy of Tanner Mathias

Becca Mathias is a Media Design and Photography graduate from Wilmington University, portrait and wedding photographer based in Northern Delaware. She enjoys photographing food, live music, and nature, with much of her nature photography taking place at Longwood Gardens, where she is a volunteer photographer. Checking out new breweries and restaurants is one of her favorite hobbies, along with spending time with her new kitties, Sage and Basil. View her portfolio at and follow her on Instagram, @beccamathiasphoto

Brenna Webb: 1 Poem

I wish this was more VULGAR: an entry

because it’s fall

Because I am writing this from the fire escape cleverly named PORCH

A (shit) rolled cigarette hanging from my never closed mouth breather lips

And I feel like sticking a needle with ink under my lip, let the ink bleed CUNT,

it’s fall and I just ashed on my keyboard and I think I have had water in my left ear for a month I can’t hear and I fucked a guy this weekend who mentioned after he is in an OPEN RELATIONSHIP and I am his thing in New York City but I smiled and ate a bagel with him the next morning, daydreaming about the ways I’d murder him then write a letter to his Free Spirit Blonde that says don’t be boring, don’t be a manic pixie dream girl, don’t tell anyone your secrets, just dance and sweat and wait for the cold to keep your little frame inside…

It’s fall stop googling boob jobs like tits are the answer to your mommy issues

I have had to edit this to insert the endings to my sentences because my mind runs too fast for my fingers when the leaves fall, so does my composure

I have ash on my velvet shorts that I want to duck tape to my hips because I keep letting them fall for people who don’t ask to read my writing but maybe that’s because I never shut the fuck up…

                                    but I don’t want to wonder what would happen if I ever did, because I won’t and maybe don’t need to

And if you’ve finished this I am sorry the autumn is my season for please leave a message after the beep if I call you back

Maybe this is the start of a journal a blog a romantic novel with myself: a chronology of a new vibrator, anything to keep momentum when I am so



as empty as the mascara I dip under the faucet to avoid walking to Walgreens for replenishing bored bored won’t leave bed because I hate it all

It’s fall in New York City I am almost twenty five

untethered and officially can’t keep up with the pieces of me flapping around different windowsills but why does October seduce me this way

if I call you back I’ll probably say sorry

Brenna Webb is from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her work has previously been featured with Basement Poetry in the Spring 2017 production of HER. Other published works can be found published in The Laconic. Brenna wrote and directed her first short film, "SIN LADY" with Mr. Mister Productions, scheduled for a Spring 2019 release. She currently lives in New York City where she studies English-Literature and Film Studies at Columbia University.

Tianna G. Hansen: 3 poems


last night my bones became brittle,

obsequious to your every desire...


I felt them tremble within, a

vibrating skeleton of pearls.


watch me glimmer for you,

contort into



you want

me to be,



skeletal shape

I am perceived

in your eyes


nothing but



scorched black

from rising heat of the fire

that darkened soot lingering


fingers of flame devoured my flesh

all that remains are these delicate

bones, becoming power with a single

touch – dust to dance away

with      the      wind.

to the leering

feasting on me, my body

is mine; belongs to no one else


no matter how you mar it,

stinging teeth & foaming maw,

I will burn you from existence

and dance through your ashes.


I will destroy all you claim

to create from my bitter bones,

drown you in holy waters

shimmering always like oil

slicks across the surface.


clutching keys between fingers

like claws, ready to strike

ready to draw blood,

taste of iron in my throat.


take those eyes off me.

offer me your disgrace

wrapped in tender plastic.


I will capture in gloved hands

your suffocating breath

as you shudder beneath,

my heels lodged deep

in your jugular vein.


let the whims of men

bleed out and the glory

of women, of what we can

create, what we hold true

in our tight wombs, stand as

goddesses. each and every

one of us, we are regal.


lay prostrate and worship us,

beg forgiveness for eons of sin.

your lifeblood on our hands

lends strength and power –


a grip on this Hell that you

have created; Persephone’s

liberating haven presents

pomegranate seeds of hope

only to destroy the buds

in deathly poison grip.

becoming Calypso

Adrift, I am unanchored from

the shores of my discovery, a buoy

floating through uncharted waters

fathoms of sea sprawling beneath.


Become one with the ocean,

worshipped over candlelit myth;

a goddess rising on waves to

overtake sailors’ ships

towering above

with scaled, perfect flesh


I am a dragon abreast,

breathing smoke and brine.


Come find me in the night
blindfolded by darkness

I am the nymph queen, capturing you
in spells. Never to be tamed
or caged.

I'll turn your black heart to coral stone
steal it from the cavern above your lungs
lock it in a chest—beating, beating

Embrace me,

stretch this skin until
it hugs my bones
a gown of seaweed
tentacles entwined

No mistress or maiden
I am goddess.

Tianna G. Hansen has been writing her whole life and focuses much of her work on personal experience. She founded and works as Editor-in-Chief of Rhythm & Bones Press which specializes in the idea of turning trauma into art. A poetess, novelist, memoirist, creative nonfiction and flash fiction writer, her work has been published widely – find it at, follow her on Twitter @tiannag92 / Instagram @tgghansen24. Check out her press at / Twitter @RhythmBonesLit / IG @RhythmBonesPress. Her first collection is coming this year from APEP Publications.

C.C. Hannett: 1 Poem


Our friendly sycamore

Zests The curbside

Imprints leaf-loss


Like the Challenger

Briefly stained the air with its breakages

Sparklers are cool Ampersand burn

Next to hopscotch



Vulnerable travelers; snails—

Who are we kidding?

There is no shield, no barrier thick

Enough to withstand

Our oblivious and merciless boot

If we’re not careful, all poems become tree poems

Lumbered epix If we’re not careful,

All poems

Become bird poems

Without an ornithologist to preserve

The integrity of the feeling

Or apply medallions to the correct

Elements to make

Our melancholy sing epix

You should never give away yr meaning

Of drawn metaphor

Though, you may suggest

Reference material


For punching


Kris Hall / C. C. Hannett / kmwgh is a writer who feels queasy when he identifies himself as a writer. Or anything, really. Author of I Gave This Dream to a Color, Triune, and SAGA ctrl (Spuyten Duyvil) + a number of chapbooks. He is the event organizer for Quake: An Everett Lit Crawl and Poetry: Uncharted. Currently, he is the Managing Editor for Really Serious Literature (@rlysrslit) and their Disappearing Chapbook Series. Work has been placed with Softblow, DREGINALD, Gramma, Juked, etc. He currently lives with his wife and three animals somewhere in the PNW and/or behind you.

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah: 3 Poems

The Swing & the Fury

I write my life scattered about in lines

& stitch them together as midlife crisis.

The first line is a fishbone, covered by two cottony puffs from white hair,

snarling above a cornet, I slow down its tune among the motorcyclists

I’m of them to pass the dairy farm

& discuss arthritis from couch to a ladder.

I remember all the strays

you’ve included to manage the lowest rung of a leg.

The second line almost a baby equipment

& that requires assistances from the sisters,

I settle in the back seat, waiting to see in the mirror

how the heart beat springs up & down from your South to my North,

shaped on the anvil with sugar sprinkles,

still under the summer heat

& cherry blossoms hang from the sky,

open weeks are zipped with your breath.

At this dead heat,

to pay the next death duty

for debris,

I debug the cancer

from the cactus wounds

with your fingers making numb.

The furthest corner of this room

is just a frown furrowing your brow,

I take the fury on your face

& fuse with the bones of the spine together,

showing a brilliant future

in the front through the dark corridor.

The third line remains the surface underneath, the glass is full to the brim.

I keep the brine

for a very agreeable weather

& that’s why I’m not hurt outside their dairy products.

In Rome I make a long list, age-old customs,

you stare at it aghast,

I’ve nothing against people making money

& paying taxes on it

for very tall for their age.

This mound is clad among groups of people in heating allowance.



is the most gift

& ordinary thing.

I’ve wrapped with your voice

beneath the ruins

& above

the first lemma we compose

like a yam tuber.

Some things almost the symbols in K, L, M, etc, are

between our vector spaces, your wife proofs

with my corollary right

against any Renaissance pigments

on the walls or from the ceilings, we remain silence before the headlights

during Labour Day. Aiming straight

at the crag

& seizing your moment

blundering down the aisle,

hands are folded, days are rushed away

up the corridor to complete the triangles

for this trench.

It’s quieter there though you clench your fists

built around a circuitous route to avoid the hill centre.

You DIY without all this hassle at work,

DJ does his chance by just standing there –

doing something!

I consider this old chrysalis struggling to be christened

when chrome handles glisten with our sweat,

the visitors begin to filter into the hall,

holding water from the goof ground,

the next finch,


a finicky eater, flutters about,

the lake is wide opened in your mouth

we gob the results, hanging from hunches,

I decollate to the fuselage without my go-cart.

Cooler towards Riverside

We’re lizards to our ends as from our beginning

during the fall above the bog, where wattles are covered

with clay to hide your presence, we’re formed from no supposition on any subject governing the guard,

I go ahead about your story,

that doesn’t agree with

what the historians have said before a large audience,

I’ll keep out, yes, out your way. No eating an ogre or a ghoul, no begging your pardon, sir,

I keep the edges to a pinch,

as I’ve been accustomed to do, I feel disposed to see inside

& enter the house & retreat from the floating staircase,

I master its ritzy riser, if that’s possible to alight the cuttings for the next collage on dust.

This music is much more akin to blue jazz than cold rock, here within, you’re easy reach.

How do you react to the news when they shout & boo?

A colleen grabs your wrist & some paddies have a very bad reaction to these peanuts.

I sit down to read your hand- writing full of role-play,

a robin stares at a fishing rod still in the lagoon to rob you

your self-confidence over the fire. I justify nothing, only the touch, the softness & the impossible.

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah is author the of new hybrid collections, The Sun of a Solid Torus, Conductor 5, Genus for L Loci, and Handlebody. He lives in the southern part of Ghana.

The Carlton: An Interview

I was getting dinner alone at a diner a few weeks ago, I saw a group of people swarming in from the cold. A motley of folks, probably not relate, or maybe so. “You. Pick a person. Go on pick ‘em. Got ‘em? Okay. Good.” It must’ve been an office, given their attire, and some were shivering. “Now list some of thier physical attributes,/make them seem as though they are significant.” As I stared into the cut section of my turkey BLT wrap, I went on Instagram and scrolled a bit. And there it was. “Go on, take your time,/Make it flow, in a line./Move from one instant to the next, to another.” I saw he was posting story updates while on his night shift. I knew what I had to do. “What is happened and what has not happened/Are divided by the present.” The group of office workers took their seat in front of me; multi-colored heads divided by a worn cushion stapled on wood. “Make a memory, make it matter, breed nonsense,/Take charge, describe the smell of lemons,.” I waved down the server. “More water with a lemon, please.”

Josh Dale: Thanks for allowing me to interview you! I think I first was acquainted with you through Facebook and then ultimately at a reading in Allentown or Easton. Do you enjoy the literary and arts community you frequent?

The Carlton: Ah, the Summer of Brandon Diehl's I Hate Poetry events, yes. I have a pretty long history of people meeting my 'social media personality', seeing me perform and getting to know me off "stage"and realizing there's a distinct difference, so, yeah, this is a pretty typical tale of how it works nowadays, isn't it?

As for the arts communities I frequent, living in The Poconos puts me in an interesting place because I'm an hour away from pretty much everywhere and that's great. It keeps things special enough, you know? The personalities we meet, I somehow love and loathe them. There was a time where I'd been summarily asked to leave every poetry event in the Wyoming Valley. I remember, as a result, I started my own monthly event, The Third Friday Spoken Word Event to a large success. Sometimes, having as many of seventy people attending a poetry reading/open mic. It's peaks and it's valleys, I suppose. All in all, I've met some of my favorite people as a result of performing and been allowed to do things that, by all intents and purposes, poets aren't typically invited to do. Networking with musicians, comedians and the like has certainly helped book those bigger shows and I'll always feel pretty hip about that since I've always gone over best with a less "proper" crowd. It's poetry-it's supposed to be fun!

JD: Care to explain your academic career (in brief)? From what you told me once, you surely have the credentials!

TC: Well, I mean, it's often discussed on stage, but for anyone who hasn't seen me perform or what have you, the story goes as follows: I made some... legal mistakes as a preteen and that were followed by a series of "failing upwards", if you would. Graduating high school young made me look good to colleges and the 1990s, being what they were, scholarships were an easier thing to come by. The classrooms and lecture halls came easier to me than some, but being the kind of fella who made being overeducated and underemployed a life goal means my Master's and PhD are in Communications and I've never actually used them professionally. Accomplishing goals is important, so I often remind my boss at the Diner how important it is that he use the correct honorific when speaking to me.

JD: Your chapbook, #%$&ing Rockstar, reads differently than your performances. For example, the opening piece, “15%”, is one of my personal favorites live, and by reading it, it conjures the memory of the performance in lieu of ingesting the poem as-is on paper. I may be biased here, but what do people talk about your work in written form?

TC: I remember that piece and "Insurgents" being where we realized the book would be a way to show I wasn't just some schmuck mouthing off at the front of a room making academic poets squirm. Like, I work hard on the pieces I perform. Probably harder than folks would think. Before the book, the feedback was always on the reading and never the words. Post-book, it was much more telling that folks latched onto key lines or themes. I won't lie, I'm proud of what we did with that chap. For a book made 100% DIY by a couple amateurs with litte to no experience in assembling poetry collections, it looks damned professional.

JD: During your performances, your interludes act as an op-ed for something that’s been “nagging” you, or at the very least in the front of your mind. Any topic that didn’t go well with the audience? Any that were almost too good?

TC: I guess that time I told a room filled with cover musicians how it was total malarkey that I wasn't allowed to just come up to the mic and read David Lerner poems and that I "Hope they all get cancer and die" was probably a little far, but watching the entirety of some bar in Nowhere, Pennsylvania turn on me was a pretty good high. How's that for a low?

The weird banter between bits started as a tension breaker for my nerves, but it's led to a lot of MC-ing gigs and helped The Carlton be known as more of a personality than just a poet which means, sometimes, I can work without the notebooks and that's pretty darn swell to me.

JD: Your magnum opus seems to be these hashtags #nomorepoems and #stopmakingbadart2k16. To summarize, what are their purposes? Is there any long-term goal for these, especially the bookmark-poems you gave me?

TC: #nomorepoems was always just a way of me mocking the high school-ish dramatics that we see in our art's cultures. I had a bit of a ridiculous meltdown in a gas station after seeing some silliness at a show I'd attended one night and decided, as we all should do at some point or another, I was D-O-N-E with poetry. That lasted, like, a month. Maybe. I somehow decided to take this all a bit more seriously, started working on the chap, had t-shirts printed, called in some favors and then went full-force at booking these very DIY punk-style variety shows with musicians, comedians, performance artists and even the occasional poet. We had a good run showing folks that perhaps poets could be rockstars, too. 11/10 would recommend.

JD: Any performances lined up for The Carlton in the near future?

TC: The Carlton is on stage as this is posted in His current hometown of Stroudsburg for a rescheduled show celebrating His birthday. Last week's snowstorm kind of threw everyone for a loop, but we endure. Show business and what have you. Also, June 7th, I'll be at Coffeehouse Without Limits with Niki Elizabeth and a few other cool faces. Come on out, should be a gas!

JD: It must be a bit disheartening when you Google “The Carlton” and virtually all the results come back with Carlton Banks and his memorable dance.

TC: Sometimes in life, you're born the same day as your grandfather and you get named after him. Sometimes in life, you just get so tired of spelling your last name for folks. Sometimes in life, a sitcom comes out in your adolescence and you get to hear about this silly mishegoss forever. You either embrace it or you own it. The Rabbis say we have two jobs in this life: To learn and to cope. I suppose coping is a consequence sometimes in life.

JD: You have the most comprehensive Vans collection in all of Pennsylvania, possibly the entire country. How do you stave off the contempt of so many shoes?

TC: I mean, I did just cop that new patchwork collection and I'm all about the MTE for the winter. Still dig my PF Flyers and Doc Martens, though.

JD: If you had to pick a single metal alloy, which one would you be? (Not counting fictional like vibranium, adamantium, etc.)

TC: Probably some sort of stainless steel. They use chromium to make that, right? Definitely have some sort of a chrome finish on me, while still just being a plain lile of sturdiness inside.

JD: Thank you, Carlton, for the interview! It was a blast. We will see you next week on The Weekly Degree with some more poems.

The Carlton is a Performance Poet originally from Upstate NY that cut His poetic teeth the day He realized Morrissey, Comic Books and PT Barnum might be better creative influences than Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda and Emily Dickinson.  While most poets were scrambling to be published by cool alt. Lit publications and small press publishers, The Carlton was getting sponsored by a board game cafe in Northeast Pennsylvania. His first chapbook,  #%$&ing Rockstar , is available pretty much wherever you can find The Carlton.  Currently, you can find Him living in The Poconos trying to figure out how He can sell enough copies of His book to buy another pair of new sneakers or not.

The Carlton is a Performance Poet originally from Upstate NY that cut His poetic teeth the day He realized Morrissey, Comic Books and PT Barnum might be better creative influences than Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda and Emily Dickinson.

While most poets were scrambling to be published by cool alt. Lit publications and small press publishers, The Carlton was getting sponsored by a board game cafe in Northeast Pennsylvania. His first chapbook, #%$&ing Rockstar, is available pretty much wherever you can find The Carlton.

Currently, you can find Him living in The Poconos trying to figure out how He can sell enough copies of His book to buy another pair of new sneakers or not.

2019 Pamphlet Series: Poems from Jerrod Schwarz, Mateo Lara, and Kristin Garth

From conjure


i need to know that the earth can be stolen.


i need to write beneath grammar, to suck the word filth

into my blood: ram horn gut fuck hierophant blood scent.

a mangle of the word father.

how to bring you back/what to do with you

i buy blackout curtains and hang them

around the bathtub, sit for three days:

anemic touch of tile wall

and my own skin. my wife and twin daughters

beg me to come out, but no one can break

the salt circle.


your bones phase in first. i lay on my back

in the tub and let calcium fall to rest on me:

your clavicle balances on my clavicle, your spine

curves over my chest and belly, your metatarsals

wedge into my toes.


blood vessels root down from the shower head

and stripe over your muscle fibers; i feel your grease

in my leg hair.


before your brain and heart can connect, i shackle

your arms to the faucet. you wake up to darkness

and restraint. beneath the sink, i have hidden

a forty-pound medicine ball

covered in the full sentences

I can remember you saying:


you know i don't serve the devil, right?

you can call Rebecca mom, if you want.

I think the bald look suits me.

i drop the ball on your kneecaps; your tongue

is still forming, and the gut-scream diffuses

in your raw throat. i drop the medicine ball

four times on your stomach.

i don't want all your ribs to crack,


so i move on to your face. i shine my cell phone light

up at my own face; i want you to see my nose, my ears,

my hairline; you are darkness, but your grown tongue

begs me, please, I don't know you, please let me go,

please, is this hell?


i take off my t-shirt and wrap it over your face; your face

hangs beneath the tub faucet. i say i have questions,

and turn the water as hot as it will go.


a list of questions/phantom pain

you had cancer cells, and mom had a hysterectomy;

did you ever meet my flesh parents?


[sic] waterboard, [sic] no answer


i've heard rumor words: womb jelly, grew,

a journalist. was my true dad a fling?

am I a rape baby?


[sic] fingernail peel, [sic] whimper


you remarried after only a year,

did my marrow remind you

of radiation and remission?


[sic] bleach scrub, [sic] quaking fists

you liked raising show horses and beef cows; why did i sleep

in a guest bedroom every other weekend?

[sic] salted ice on your eyelids, [sic] whisper,

[sic] i don’t know everything.

From Glitter Gods

Winged-Man & His Stars

            For H

Stripped-down             where               our holy spaces          filled with ants.

I’m ripe & thinking of the first time someone fucked me.

Blade-hot supplements wings silver-slicked      down my back

I’m hungering here      nested  in the backseat        of his Cobalt.

Soft clay forms             spot sticky with newness         so much newness white & impure

Not saintly       he tells me god does not exist         pay attention to the stars.

I’ll float & drift within his silver-slicked push—take & give.

I enter  his indifference un wanted but satiated         we last three years

Before my flesh pulses with memory               flying above & under him.


He talked about cosmic intent             whatever the fuck that meant

Cosmic intent              super nova & its burst              orange death/rebirth.

Black hole        sucking & fucking a galaxy      he studied chemistry in college

I studied          his eyebrows                how much he cried when we broke up                        

How much my             mother             loved him         before she started loving me

& stars             dead pulse        bright dead pulse         so many stars

In the sky         that god did not create             that’s what the winged-man said

When he unfurled        his silver-slicked wings to cover me         

to cover           my       eyes.


            for Shawn

It feels rushed—diamonds are supposed to glimmer not gut

insides, watching the black & blue of your body shape into marvelous ruin.

It feels incomplete—this harness of power, lightning struck chords

water rushing to pummel a gold shroud in your bloodline

you hunger for happiness, it stains the room with light.

a broken moon awakens in your horrible idea of trust

& what spills in our cavity of chai tea & La Villa tacos

 a tooth-rot of sweet, never let me down in your high-walled rooms

roomy enough for a glittering building burning betrayal

from old homes we call a shelter.

It feels unready—the carelessness of piles & mud-caked shoes

needing a river, needing a sun to dry out what wets O mouth

with indecision & thought upon thought upon thought of

your eyes stained darkness & questions unanswered swallowed.

your nights are bright & pulsing & every brick is rough

& red-blistered around you, a chunk of stone became jewel

& I’m not ready for another beautiful thing.

It feels timeless—however, it’s true, some things are missing

but precious gem cradles your stomach, it’s in your hand, just look

pay attention, a bunch of words still

must find air...hike up, bike out your wondering

finds you in shattering dream, gushing out of a pleasure room

the kind of love that is ready to quench a desert

 monsoon a memory of cherishing out of you.

Winter Exorcism

where did I fall? what shivering waits for blizzard…

I suppose every gathering was Lucifer’s call to a queer bone.

I am unapologetically queer—each bruise purple & azul

another Mexican, another survivor of white saviors

another snow drop in my mouth

another—uncouth & whiny, icy melting.

I suppose my friend S would doubt

this ruling, demon-possessed fingers

digging into his thigh at night

I wonder & wander each corridor

anticipating my murder, my earthly death

waiting for resurrection—green vomit, sucking cock in hell

swelling up, scars, friction.

I, California—winter’s only two weeks

before heat thaws all tension away

tell me where you feel, put it where the chill

will numb me senseless, sensible once more

unafraid to utter, I love you in dark corridors

no burning pyre, no matchsticks, for the faggots

& my greatest expectation of self—come gouge my eyes out

shroud me with winter love, winter blue, winter everything

douse me in holy water, pray for me, I’m doing good

I’m doing good, I’m doing good—estoy hacienda el bien

jesûs me salvo del that: thrive surviveunwind.

From The Legend of the Were Mer

Maudlin Mermaid

Pacific princess pouts behind a fin.

Charcoal, her scales, sequined sunlight on waves.

A raven head on rocks, she must pretend

to persecute the sailors that she craves.


Her sisters swim to join with rainbow tails

and tresses tinged in pink and honeydew,

with smiles that spread the closer ships do sail.

They celebrate the evil that they do.


Their circle song, she’s not invited in.

Secluded to the side, a sable spy.

Distrust a dimpled face too dour to grin.

As ships to sediment descend, she’ll cry.


Dark iris rimmed with red, unlike her peers.

Inside the tide, you cannot see her tears.


Midnight, a solstice, fourteenth birthday moon,

secret, a swim, to reef cocoon.  Abrupt

from failing thrash of tail, two legs are hewn

of no avail — complications erupt.


Asphyxiation under, frantic swim,

a flail of limbs towards buoy or end.

All waves now weakness, nature’s cruel whim,

a climb to safety and to comprehend.   


A sea that rocks new legs to sleep, from fish

woman, a transformation complete.  Change

a cudgel harsh as daybreak sun.  Dreamed wish

light grants, nightmare undone.  Mermaid deranged?


All day beneath, belief it’s dream reprieves.

Until the moon brings legs.  She cannot breathe.


The Capture

Two worlds, her teens: in day, sea green; legs, night,

alight, discover desiccated dream.

From half-shell bed, sand dune instead,

pink light, electric neon call, a city gleams.


Erotic extremes, 20, indigent

in cut-off jeans, from bar to bed by men

she’s led, a wordless waif who’s fed. First glint

a dive inside an ocean deep to swim.


A fisherman, psychopathic pretense

of friend. Awake to leave, but he won’t let

her go. A nude in net, bound, defenseless

pale flesh to scales and fin, a tearful sweat.


A flop and breathless fearful heart that sank.

She’ll wait to serve at night inside a tank.

Read more of these pamphlets and author bios below.

Devin G. Kelly: An Interview

We’ve been in the mood to interview these days. We’ve also been in the spirit of our 3rd Annual Chapbook Contest. You know, the important things. So, despite 3/4 of the TW editorial currently in college, Chanel Martins, our long-term managing editor, was dispatched to NYC. Why you may ask? A native Northern Californian all the way to the Big Apple? It sounds preposterous, albeit curious. That’s why we have the internet, to conduct interviews with people thousands of miles away. This one in particular would be classified as “important enough to fly out to”, just saying. See what unfolded below…

Chanel Martins: Thanks for your time in conducting this interview with us here at Thirty West. Why not start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Devin Kelly: Thank you for taking the time to ask me some questions! As it probably says somewhere, my name is Devin Kelly. I’m a poet, writer, and teacher living in New York City. I’m in my first year of teaching high school full time. I adjuncted at Bronx Community College and City College for three years before realizing that adjuncting was, though unbelievably fun and rewarding, sort of the purgatory of teaching. I’m also an avid runner and ultramarathoner, but I won’t bore or scare anyone by talking too much about that. I already talk too much about it anyway.

CM: It looks like you partake of all kinds of writing genres (nonfiction, poetry, fiction, etc.). Which is your favorite?

DK: That’s a tough question! Each genre allows for different avenues to explore the strange beauty of this world. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite between nonfiction and poetry. I’m obsessed with the idea of truth, and the past, and how memory is its own curiosity, and I think both of those genres allow for really wonderful ways to explore those kinds of questions. But even when I’m writing about sorrow, I like the idea of play, and I think the writing I gravitate toward across all three genres does play with something — whether form, language, content, or more.

CM: Aside from writing, you also teach. I, too, teach at the high school level. What called you to this profession? How do you balance your work in teaching and your writing career?

DK: First, thank you for being a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher ever since I had a favorite teacher — which I think is similar to a lot of teachers. I was fortunate to have a litany of wonderful high school English teachers, and I always wanted to follow the example (and magic) they set for me. When it comes to balancing writing and teaching, it’s hard. Especially now that I’m teaching high school full time. I don’t know how you or anyone does it. I used to have the time to set aside an hour or two each day to devote to the practice of writing, but now I scribble notes on paper, write drafts of things on my phone. I’m answering this question on my phone, now, actually, on the subway on the way to work.

CM: On your website, you list yourself as a “writer, teacher, [and] student.” Two of these seem obvious, but in what ways do you still consider yourself a student?

DK: I would say because I learn everyday. I learn from my students. I learn from my friends. I learn from poets and writers I follow on Twitter. I learn from my various practices of teaching, writing, and running. I definitely still learn from my father, my mother. I think the moment someone begins to deny themself the possibility of learning is the moment the world begins to close its doors on them.

CM: On top of teaching and writing, you also co-host a poetry reading event. Tell us a bit about the Dead Rabbits Reading Series. What is it? How did it start?

DK: I’ve been co-hosting Dead Rabbits for over four years, which is still unbelievable to me. Over those years, I’ve had the complete honor to host poets and writers ranging from award winners to those just beginning to find their place in the literary world. There are so many things about the series I’m grateful about. That I got to hear poets like Morgan Parker, Eduardo Corral, and Lynn Melnick read. That I got to hear poets early in their blooming careers, like Carlie Hoffman and Kwame Opoku-Duku. That I met some of my best friends, like George Kovalenko, through it. That I’ve been running it alongside another great friend, Katie Rainey, who is leading a press spin-off of the series, called Dead Rabbits Books, which you should all check out.

CM: It looks like your books are currently available in big-name stores such as Amazon, Powell’s, and Barnes & Noble. What do these big names mean to you as a “Writer” ?

DK: You know, not much, if I’m being honest, though I support Powell’s more than I support Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I believe in the power of literature and making art as a way to engage with and reckon with the world, to make beauty and sorrow out of the real and mundane, to actively believe in the potential of your imagination and your way of seeing, and to build community and solidarity in a world that so often pushes against it. I think corporations, even when they’re involved in selling art, can be a pain, and can detract people from some of the more intrinsic positives of making art. That being said, I believe in the power and joy of small bookstores, and the potential they have for uplifting and building community in the communities they are located.

CM: Where do you find your inspiration for your writing? What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far? 

DK: That’s a difficult question! My inspiration for writing comes simply from the way I look at the world. That’s not to say that I look at the world in an innately special way, it’s just to say that the world as it is — whether mundane, or beautiful, or whatever — is where my poems so often end or begin. There’s a Larry Levis poem that says, “There are two things I want to remember /

About light, & what it does to us.” I think of that all the time when I write. How simple that is. Most of my poems have to do with the world as I see it, and the bonds between families and friends and lovers that are made or broken or in the process of being made or broken within that world. I think the friends I’ve made through my art are the biggest accomplishment I consider as a writer so far. That’s not to say I’m not grateful for having a book, or being able to publish my work. But the friends — without them so much wouldn’t be possible, and when the year comes that not a single person buys my book, my hope is at least I’ll know a poet or two and still be able to call them my friend.

CM: On your website you mention that you “enjoy extremely sharp cheddar cheese melted atop a medium rare burger” which sounds delicious right now. Anything behind this in terms of significance? Why do you find this important enough to include on your main page?

DK: Hah, I love this question. And I have no answer other than I want one terribly now, a medium rare burger with the sharpest of cheddar. Some delights are (almost) better than a beautiful poem.

CM: So, we’ve been teasing this for a while now, but here it is: we at Thirty West are honored to have you as the guest judge for the 3rd Annual Chapbook Contest! Have you ever judged a contest before? What are your expectations for it?

DK: I never have! I’m so honored to be given the opportunity. First of all, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to encounter what I am sure will be a wide range of beautiful work. And secondly, I’m sure it will be one of the hardest decisions I’ve faced to choose from such a wide range. I’m really looking forward to it.

CM: Any pro-tips for prospective authors who are considering this contest?

DK: Send your riskiest, your most imaginative, your most mundane, your wildest, your quietest, your loudest, your most still. Whatever way you see the world and ask questions about the world. Send me that. I can’t wait.

CM: Thank you, Devin, for the interview. It was fun and we’re looking forward to seeing your manuscripts on March 1st!

Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of two collaborative chapbooks as well as two collections of poetry,  Blood on Blood  (Unknown Press), and  In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen  (Civil Coping Mechanisms). His work has been published or is forthcoming in  The Guardian, LitHub, Catapult,  and more. He is the Director of Enrichment Programming for the Sunnyside Community Services Youth Futures Program at Queens Vocational High School, as well as a teacher at the City College of New York. He is the founder and co-host of the Dead Rabbits Reading Series and currently lives in Harlem.

Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of two collaborative chapbooks as well as two collections of poetry, Blood on Blood (Unknown Press), and In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (Civil Coping Mechanisms). His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Guardian, LitHub, Catapult, and more. He is the Director of Enrichment Programming for the Sunnyside Community Services Youth Futures Program at Queens Vocational High School, as well as a teacher at the City College of New York. He is the founder and co-host of the Dead Rabbits Reading Series and currently lives in Harlem.

Karina Bush: An Interview

It took me a few “Where’s Waldo” moments to be able to track down where Karina Bush is at any point in time or particular mindstate, but finally I found her: the duck-billed baseball cap donned over blonde hair. I apologized for interrupting her brain lace weaving, but thankfully, she was able to take some time to answer my highly-anticipated questions. Below is the following account…

Josh Dale: Thanks for allowing me to interview you and I’m sorry for interrupting your weaving! To start, why not tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Karina Bush: Hello, Josh! It’s a pleasure to be interviewed by you. I’m an Irish poet, writer, and artist. I’m from Belfast and I live in Rome for now, but I’m moving on soon, not sure where yet.

JD: I’ve been a fan of yours since I was recommended first chapbook, Maiden. What central themes are you most confident in portraying?

KB: Thank you! Sexuality has been a strong theme in my writing. Creative energy comes from the sexual area, so I think it’s quite normal for early work to be seething with sex. But the sexuality of my poetry is locked into emotion; it isn’t throwaway sex. Except for 50 EURO, of course, which is 20-minute throwaway sex, but it still lives in an emotional realm of mostly negative emotion. Emotion is what I’m most confident writing in, the emotional landscape is endless, I always find more to explore.

JD: I’ve caught myself Googling specific Irish terms and figures of lore in your work. As an Irish woman in the 21st century, how has your work embodied the culture?

KB: With my first three books, I don’t think my Irish-ness has been prominent. With my new book, it is. It’s set in Belfast, a story of cruelty and stupidity in love. It’s coming out soon with Analog Submission Press. I admire the press a lot, the editor has a great vision and enormous energy for it—he’s a powerhouse and an interesting guy. Being Irish has certainly had an impact on me as a storyteller; everyone in Ireland is a storyteller, except for a small number of bores. There are deep wits and insights that permeates the culture and genuine respect for the arts—it’s in the blood, a long oral and lyrical tradition that can’t be broken. The Irish can’t be broken. The British government tried to break us for centuries and they failed. We refuse to be tamed.

JD: How has traveling been an influence (or inhibitor) for your creative endeavors? Where have you gone in the past year or two?

KB: It has been a huge influence. It pulled me out of a closed-minded thinking pattern. I felt stuck in Belfast, so I packed up and left five years ago, with fuck-all money and no plan, and I’ve made it work. I’ve traveled a lot—in Asia, the US, and Europe. My favorite places are Japan and Italy. I don’t write about where I am living or visiting. I’m not one of those travelers who jumps into a culture with a GoPro on my head. I absorb what I want to absorb. The cities and countries do seep in, but not in a direct way. When I first moved abroad, I struggled to write because I was unsettled, but being unsettled is quite normal now, and I’ve found that developing adaptability to change has helped me write and create. I’ve had to learn to ground and centre myself anywhere, and it’s easier to do now.

JD: I recall you had an affiliation with 48th Street Press (publishing Maiden, broadsides, etc.) Do you feel that they propelled your writing career? Do you enjoy mailing personalized letters, broadsides, and swag to your fans?

KB: For sure they did. I’m still closely connected to the press; the editor works with me in the writing process. He has been my personal editor for six years now—he’s brutal though. BareBackPress has also been significant for they were one of the first to publish me back in 2013 and we’ve developed a very fertile and creative friendship. The owner has edited my new book and he’s incredibly sharp. This mentoring has had more influence on my work than anything else. And yeah, I do enjoy mailing stuff out. That’s such an important part of the small press, getting words out there. I love digital but I also want to be part of keeping physical literature alive.

JD: In 50 Euro, the narrator is indulging in various sexual encounters with seemingly incompetent men. I’m not keen on all feminist theory, but this collection seems to be a tangential path that is rarely explored. Care to give us your take?

KB: I didn’t write it with any feminist theory in mind. I’m a woman, and like most women, I’ve been assaulted and harassed, but I don’t have a feminist agenda in my work. I write as I see fit; I don’t feel the need to be reactionary to social or political tides. I had a story published by the incredible Akashic Books last year, which is the closest to political I’ve got. It’s about a British soldier in the 1990s holding a thirteen-year-old girl at gunpoint, sexually harassing her, and her subsequent revenge. That story is semi-autobiographical; a soldier did that to me as a kid during the Northern Ireland conflict. The crimes of war are hidden stories as well as newsworthy ones.

For the most part, I see masculinity as positive energy. A beautiful male mind is the most interesting thing on the planet to me. But, ugly behavior certainly needs to be examined and exposed. I turned some of the creeps I’ve met into johns in 50 EURO. I liked stripping them down in my writing, having power over them, taking their money and their confidence. I was careful with 50 EURO to neither glamourise nor victimise the protagonist. I simply wanted to capture the essence of the red-light district and those quick exchanges.

I’ve had people cross the line with me as a result of the book: call me a whore, send me dick pics, send repeated messages begging me to fuck them. Kafka wasn’t an insect. Mary Shelley wasn’t hideous and eight-foot-tall. You can write about things and not be those things. Literature is not always literal. I work in the tech industry, not in sex work. My poetry is not an invitation to get sexual or personal with me.  

JD: Brain Lace was my favorite of the three, for it feels like a compounded maturation of your previous two titles. Less abrasive, yet equally abstract, and filled with genre-bending work. What state of mind were you in as you wrote this?

KB: Thank you, Josh! My mental and emotional state was very fractured writing it. Everything I was experiencing felt like an abstraction. Nothing was concrete. The book is confused, trying to reconcile thought-scapes with reality and notions of karma. I was in Japan, feeling alien and isolated, and I had a connection with someone on the other side of the world, a connection I didn’t understand and still don’t. That sparked the concept; the brain lace I was experiencing. Being so far away from my roots—my home— it’s strange and beautiful but I found electricity moves like roots. Being in Japan accentuated that for it’s such a mix of ancient and digital. We’re all going through an intense evolution right now; things are moving fast, reality is being redefined. I’m enjoying feeling it as much as it confuses me.

JD: You’ve been involved in visual arts lately, crafting videos and photos that are suggestive and unsettling. What’re your literal representations for such projects?

KB: I’m getting increasingly frustrated with how to express. I think visually. My work starts as an emotional form; it’s not verbal at all. I make it verbal because that’s the easiest way to get it out. But I need to make it move. flat writing feels lazy; it’s no longer satisfying me. I’ve been writing poetry through video lately. I’ve got a mega video piece in the works but it’s likely a year or so from being ready so I’m still training myself.

JD: Valentine’s Day is approaching…immediate reaction?

KB: Pile of absolute shite. Romance is meta—it can’t conform.

JD: Lastly, what’s your favorite memory of your time in the U.S.? Any plans on coming back (possibly to do a reading?)

KB: Watching two golfer middle-aged johns twerking to trap music, trying to impress sex workers in Florida. I’m sure security would’ve broken my arm if I’d tried to film in there but I’ve still got the video in my head; one of the johns even got a special mention in 50 EURO. I’ve been to your hometown, Philadelphia. I took a tour of the Masonic Temple; it’s one of the largest in the world. There is a lot you can’t access, so my inner Robert Langdon took over. I was dying to sneak into a secret passageway and find some reptilians eating babies, but the tour guide was on to me, fuck’s sake. I have no plans to read my poetry, but I’ll definitely come to one of your press readings if I’m ever back in Philly.

JD: Thanks, Karina, for your time and I’m looking forward to your forthcoming publication! For more about Karina, including links to her site and books, see the bio below. See you next week on The Weekly Degree with NYC-based poet, Devin G. Kelly, and some exciting news on the 2019 Chapbook Contest!

Karina Bush is an Irish writer and visual poet born in Belfast and now living in Rome. She is the author of three books, Brain Lace (BareBackPress, 2018), 50 Euro (BareBackPress, 2017), and Maiden (48th Street Press, 2016). She has a new book, Christo & Nicola, forthcoming from Analog Submission Press. For more, visit her website    and Instagram   .

Karina Bush is an Irish writer and visual poet born in Belfast and now living in Rome. She is the author of three books, Brain Lace (BareBackPress, 2018), 50 Euro (BareBackPress, 2017), and Maiden (48th Street Press, 2016). She has a new book, Christo & Nicola, forthcoming from Analog Submission Press. For more, visit her website and Instagram

Levi Bentley: Bucolic Ecologues - 3 Poems

curdled milk enow

there’s one more early memory here of sewing the red     X

in cloth diapers at                        the mission                  hospital to give new

mothers marking as property our cover while                     starting

a church converts there risk arrest                            i am

five when we return     to the states now my mother is sewing


into      hand-me-downs reading settler-fiction at bedtime the

button tin and the Singer, our sewing machine comprise

a non-game winding     the bobbins threading all the eyes

setting a tension that hums                           breaks jams and                  snaps

like the room when my fxxxxx enters slack then snapping

i enter the picture        coiled unspooling leaving


a          rat’s nest of knots         taut beneath the

gears  of this

bid the woods

vasostructure  /           a stretch webbing         /           pinnately


compound palm          /           oak falls                       /

damp  /      handed pile

/           raked               /            rip       /           along vein


wax taught reed

mounds of wet oak leaves cold reddened raked

and bordered by thick waxy salal hedges with

black berries beside childhood home old

white siding yellow trim in washington

state i learn aloneness with sticks moss

slugs chickens meat rabbits mulched

leaves big wet hands raised against

grey sky green fields steel grey sea

climb a sticky ponderosa pine to be

above roof ridge for hours being

forgotten a home garden a deer

fence in the town name truncated

klallam for “quiet water” sounds

like “skwim” like something you

don’t want to happen temperate

desert surrounded by rainforest

settler history begins there 1850

incorporating into township in

shadow of logging and railroad

boom and bust a log camp then

farmland until the 1950 green

revolution makes small farming

obsolete and california begins

retiring there my grandparents

and others bring chain stores the

year i leave a walmart a median

age of 62

makah whaling rights won in 1999 are exercised

and then voluntarily suspended but in high school

for several years someone brings in ziploc bags

of blubber for show and

Levi Bentley organizes the reading series Housework, edits the journal Boneless Skinless, writes for Artblog, and is a member of the artist collective Vox Populi. "Bucolic Eclogue" was released from Lamehouse Press in July 2016. Chapbooks "Obstacle, Particle, Spectacle", "&parts", and "Stub Wilderness" were released from 89plus/LUMA Foundation, Damask Press, and Well Greased Press, respectively. Vitrine released their tape "Red Green Blue". Poems have appeared through 491, Apiary, Bedfellows, BlazeVOX, Boog City, Elective Affinities, Fact-Simile, Gigantic Sequins, No Infinite, Madhouse, Maestra Vida, Magic Pictures, Painted Bride Quarterly, Small Po[r]tions, Stillwater Review, The Wanderer, Tinge and Truck