POETRY – 5 Poems by Tyler Penny


for I.L.P

Soar down Harlem,
legs locked, wind twisting bodies closer.
Her sapphires echo neon signs;

she sips the blue in mine
tasted three years prior.
In the spiraling smoke,

pierce her blooming lips and draw
her firewater into lungs.          Cough
to feel. Thresh against our past

until light beckons us apart.
Then take wing east; she
to her idle nest where

honeycombs edge her door.
A perched intimacy of the phrase
birds of a feather,

where flocking is out of necessity,
less emotional than previously thought.



goose flesh pulsates down our necks
as we slowly exhale to outlast the night
like blindfolded children
groping for the prize at the bottom of the box
fingering it with curious twigs
being enthusiastic with whatever is inside



we saturate ourselves with spit and sweat
until we are a used sponge
like a bacchanalian girl
in float around the harborous body
an ill-conceived boat of love-not-want-not
set adrift in the swelling



east of Eden where the blues and whites are brighter
I search for her
an unbloomed frozen magnolia pod
uninvited like the people I shoulder swipe
stale and silent
a reminder of my frosted chest



moonlight illuminates a pathway
and guides my soles to a place
like my home
only with more corridors
and demure spiders sopping up secrets
with their porous ears


I welcome feelings of mortality,
and internal musings of flight to white.

I am dead weight in my consciousness.
A light drizzle begins from above.
Beauty is an altitude of emotional insecurity.

I release visions of lesser known demons
upon waking, and become deceivingly
transparent like the smiling masks shrouding
the faces of passing strangers.

I am an ordinary man with rough hands
and prophetic dreams of the edges
of a woman balanced upon my head.
I see her fragile toes and think how beautiful.
Where will they take her?


I set my world on fire
curl in the embers, eyes wide
to feign near-death.

Restless nights stun
the longer I’m awake.
I question the motives of strangers,
my capacity for fiery sensations,

as they thrust.
I hope to rekindle her supple skin
or the way she called me
stubbornly hopeful. We wish
on burned-out dreams in the sky.

Nothing of love should be said.
Single servings, out of sync
with my heartbeat, restrict
accepting a thing
so unnaturally uncertain
as I try to seduce sleep.


Cradling bones, a man spins like a top on edge,
and casts them into the fire encircling him. He sings.
           All my love, my hopes and dreams,
           thrown away for how they sting.
He repeats.

A woman sparks up. She sings.
         All your bones, your heart and mind,
         lost within your faith’s decline.
She repeats.

A whisper from her mouth lulls the fire to red-faced slumber.
             Do you wish to continue?
She repeats and repeats.

The man is planted, an autumn sweetgum, in the middle
of speckled red and bleeding yellow.
               I’ve no more bones to give.
He says.

She grows quiet and flickers out.

As he gathers the fragile ashes, he hums.

Tyler Allen Penny is an MFA candidate in Stony Brook University’s Creative Writing and Literature program in Southampton, New York. He is the founder and poetry editor of Cattywampus Magazine. He is the winner of the Joseph Kelly Prize in Creative Writing and has been published in Deep South Magazine and Salt Journal (print).


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