poetry by Jonce Marshall Palmer


The words always refuse to come

in a gridlock of self,

some wise guy always thinks it would be best

to rip me off the stage

with a long cartoon wicker cane

and a puff of dust. But I haven’t

finished my lines,

and no one even told me

what the punchline was.

The words get distorted and garbled

in a gridlock of self,

I was sitting in a car being educated

by my father, on how my mom probably knew

more gay people than I ever will. Naturally,

I reached into my ribcage, my fingers scraping

frantically for the tactful and

respectful way of pointing out

the irony of their collective ignorance.

The words roll out like an avalanche

in a gridlock of self,

as I try to explain to Jamie how

there is a tightly-wound ball

of energy and shapes resting

uneasily in my stomach, ink blots

that turn perfectly good ideas

into danger music and rudeness

and that’s why no one likes to talk to me.

The words pour out like vomit

in a gridlock of self,

as that nice aged white woman

offers up her monthly edict straight from

the sacred scroll as a trumpet sounds

there’s a knife at my throat as we cry out

at the altar, and later my dad recounts

the drawbacks of circumcision and

the poetry of Arabic that is lost on both of us.

The words get stuck in my craw again

in a gridlock of self,

as I stand with a microphone in my hand

recounting memories of corn kernels

and the wrinkles of my grandfather

telling his many stories, many lashings

I don’t know this Judith Butler person,

but fuck if I don’t got gender trouble.

Are you happy to be in the house of the Lord this morning?

The words eject from my throat

in a gridlock of self,

laughing at this confluence of magi

who see fit to drink their champagne

while their feet rest on dry oak wood.

The laughter bubbles from my throat

without the aid of their alcohol

with the same reflexes that forced me

to throw a pen at my sister’s eye.

The words appear on my iPhone

in a gridlock of self,

combatting my dysphoria in fatigues

the faint sounds of Uncle Jack watching Andy Griffith

I show my phone to Sam with

a knowing smile on my face

reaching across my seat

as my dad turns to me

and asks me what I’m smiling about.

“Better that you don’t realize.”


After an indiscriminate twenty years

On this Good Earth, I realize

I have gradually lost my childishness.

I have become increasingly an adult

At the expense of that coveted ichor

That I think the Spaniards call “youth”,

Or as I will call it, my “muzzy”.

“Muzzy” is something that I find

Increasingly difficult to describe

At my age, suffice to say that this word

Encompasses such a tangle of

Brutally simple emotions,

Raw and unintelligible desires,

and a Miasma in place of a full-grown brain.

Muzzy: a malady that is symptomized by

Growing your hair long, showing

a General disinterest in wearing shoes,

Dancing in the grass in a sundress,

Wanting to become a mermaid,

and Throwing flower petals all over

Your (future) fiance’s yard.

My sister has turned ten years old,

and her Hair is just as blonde as that

of Patient Zero’s, who’s muzzy infection

was So Strong, I often found myself

Trying to hit it big on YouTube

with a combination of Terrible radio metal

and a yard-full of NERF Darts.

My birthday sister had no dream to follow,

so She spent her time reading about cryptids,

Watching Supernatural and Scooby Doo,

and Engaging in mortal combat with foam swords.

Now she is ten and I am twenty, and I realize

that after All this time, I have needed her

to Share a bit of her muzzy with me.

So tonight I was brave enough, sick enough

to Ask for a straight guy’s number, to stand

in the Pennsylvanian draft in my shorts

with my Bare feet soaking up the sprinkler dew,

Dancing to distant sirens in my own way,

Grateful for the days' decisions, especially

Wishing Patient Zero about fifteen happy birthdays.

You’re Dead!

You’re Dead! and some fiend

pumps electricity through your brain

Your body is only thinking

Dead Thoughts; they’re almost

thoughts like yours but with an aftertaste

like imitation krab and dust

You’re Dead! and sadly

every word ejected from your throat

is a knife-thrust between my ribs

a Stone's Throw in time

and I don’t know how you expect me

to talk with these gaps in my sails

You’re Dead! every flinch

of your corpse reflected with gamepad

input, and pixels start bellowing

in Swan Song, a tongue

I never really taste with, a limb

I must learn to regenerate

You’re Dead! and there was

no guro art at your funeral

no leftist propaganda songs

the Typewriter Broke,

you’re dishonorably discharged at

any rate, I know what they said

You’re Dead! prospector

in your pine plastic death basket

no sips from your dirty bottle

like Bill Hanks trying

to be the brother he knows he ain’t

in a minefield of copyrights

You’re Dead! a meme thief

searching for the engines that make the

commune chug over your cold stiff

Snow Corpse there are no

keys to open said box or succeed

in such an exam as this one

You’re Dead! and it’s not

like I hadn’t been grieving the loss

of you and your thoughts for these weeks

Stains of your Being

that I don’t care to wash out of my

couch; a fool’s errand at any rate

You’re Dead! and when you

told me so, I began the process

of living life for my dear self

if I may Say So,

I think it’s about time that someone

turned off your electricity

About the Author


Jonce Marshall Palmer is a student at Florida State University studying Spanish and Russian. They hope to use their degree to work as a medical interpreter while also writing, publishing, and translating poetry. Some of their other work can be found in UNDERGROUND and ANGLES literary journals. You can follow Jonce on Twitter at @masterofmusix.