POPSICKLE contributors Joshua Mehigan, Dan Magers, James Copeland, Paige Taggart, Natalie Lyalin, Leigh Stein, Emily Pettit, Brett Price, Gina Abelkop, Marc Nasdor and Ben Fama.


“Don’t stop ’til you get enough.”
                   —Michael Jackson

No one is special. We grow old. We die.
In silk pajamas, in a pretty morning
glimpsed through Venetian blinds, joy even now
might sometimes visit as it used to. Bright
hillsides of early June, mockingbird song,
the highest button of your shirt undone;
a road along a beryl stream, both glinting,
the road already warm, the stream still cool—

I met a barmaid once whose fingernails
were very long and varnished white. Years later,
I saw her at a restaurant. She’d gained weight.
Gathered around her eyes was disappointment.
From almost every fingertip, as long
as if she’d nurtured them that whole time, grew
a varnished claw, curved inward, like a sloth’s.
Couldn’t she see how those betrayed her most?

Somewhere your true love walks ahead of you.
And, every day, your injured scarecrow’s face,
threadbare disguise, recedes. The surgeon says,
“Sometimes the enemy of good is better.”
Who hasn’t seen your eyebrows answering always
“We are amazed”? Your widening sanguine eyes
or noble jaw, past pride and compromise?
Botulin, hydroquinone, alkalis—

I knew a man, once, in his early eighties
who in his teens had danced for Balanchine.
He was a brilliant raconteur and gossip,
and we tried not to stare at the toupee

laid on his head like rusty steel wool.
Which of us could have told him? Then, one night,
we saw a picture from a newspaper,
Paris, June ’39, himself onstage,
beautiful, in a tour jeté.
a zodiac of poison eyes is rising.
The mobs that cheer beneath your balcony
are dying to be you; you’re dying not to.
Bright children wonder what it’s like to be
the child of a macabre emergency
locked in a lavish room above the city—
paradox and cliché of royalty.

I saw a movie once about a prince,
extravagant like you, like you eccentric.
But he became a savage autocrat,
ordered the sun to rise, and raped his sisters.
One bust portrays him in his musculata,
with empty eyes, but also with the injured,
sensuous lips and forehead of a boy.
“Remember only what you leave behind,”
the young prince might have counseled you. “And when

our life, this passing unendurable fever,
a world of pain, a glint of joy, is done,
bejeweled, in fine silk, you will emerge a god.”
He dreamt, one January, that he stood
in heaven by the throne of Jupiter.
Then, suddenly, he felt the god’s right boot,
then felt the earth against his cheek, then woke.
The following day, his own guard murdered him.


Mischa, thank you for making out with me.
The snowflakes hold the air once I see
the afternoon. An afternoon, a story—
a girl goes back in time to save her friend.
I can’t wait to meet you there.
Experimentation becomes so serious,
and panic is the monster you sent me, consumed
in happiness. This poem will save your life.
A story about a girl who goes back in time.
Lucid dreams and near death experiences
become so serious. An afternoon
you wanted changed will have forgotten
how to, leaving only that you wanted
something else. This poem will save your life.


Behind the service station is a home for chickens.
One of them is a comedian, likes to knock its head
against the wall, and occasionally spread out its feathers
so you can see underneath, where blue and green discs
spin inside each other without friction.
Nearby, waiting on a hill, a stone has been raised.
On your birthday, it points a shadow
into your breakfast cereal. The meaning can be calculated,
but only with the aid of an enormous finger.
These scenes make for rustic detail. This is how
we define vacation, enchanted by airports,
nature blooming from inside our knitwear.
Life cannot be replicated on a watery moon.
It would not matter if I welded my arms to the hill,
if my toes were plowed into the fields
of broken towns. There is no further scooching
possible between my body and the animal kingdom.
Leaning forward, plowing through a bagel and cream cheese,
the instinct to survive gets closer every minute.


Sometimes the only thing leaving me alone is me; bang, bang,
all numb language passing through the veins. The surface is alone
at night. Is grey and not-withstanding the pressure of being looked at.
What it is more than anything, is that not everything would like to be
constantly observed. Someone needs to take over my mind and
wave a red scarf for the bull to pass through.


I did not panic over my stigmata. It was mild!
It was a tiny welt on each hand, and another
On my right ankle. There was no blood!
We looked at it together, my husband and I.
Lover, I said. I’m the chosen one, I said.
He did not get it. He did not get my disease.
The stigmata drove him out. And still, I did not panic.
I will not panic, I said. This is a faith crisis. This is
A chance for some good counseling. The stigmata
Stayed. I poured it a bath. Was this Jesus coming
Out? I told him to stay hidden. Was this a new
And fabulous leprosy? No, it was a freakin’
Sign! It was a sign of things to come! Decent,
Honest things in this newest year of our Lord.

A GOOD UNICORN IS HARD TO FIND | LEIGH STEIN                                              

Lauren, I stole us this patch of grass so we could dance.
I got you that ring at a stoop sale. I pawned my hair

and then you got it out of hock and now I wear the wig

like a trophy. Let's always dress our best just in case
we catch a unicorn on our way to the underworld.

Why are our days so numbered,

and theirs so infinite and mythic? The unicorns
are Egyptian, Sicilian, Nigerian, Texan.

The unicorns are ineffectual and this

makes us want to lie in the grass
all night and watch the stars come out

above our borough. I am tired of sacrificing

my collection of white skirts to the grasses
of Bushwick backyards, to drummers

from Florida, to being a good sport.

How many times do I have to pretend
to be a virgin so that this wild beast

will surrender to my lap? Fuck entrapment.

This wig itches. The next unicorn I capture
is going in a castle I build from my bones.

RED WINGS COLLAPSING | EMILY PETTIT                                                    

What do you call a field of black telephones ringing?

A problem? Sometimes I make ridiculous gestures

with my arms and legs, and call it dancing. So you see

it is not the color of your hats that has guided me here.

If I give you a red bird it means more than if I give

you a story about a blue hat. When I am not a nuance

expressed in echoes,  I am quite modest and quite murky.

Once in modest and murky water, I had a very disturbing

conversation with a boat. This boat said, I don’t want to know

that much about every goddamn whale. This boat blew me away,

as the unexpected often does. I want to know more about normal

accidents, owls misplaced in the arctic, breathing in code, 

dead fish on the sidewalk, extinction in the meadow, red wings

collapsing. I don’t want to know what to call a field of black

telephones ringing. Have you ever built a giant mess with tiny tools?

You are not alone when you make ridiculous gestures

with your arms and legs, and call it dancing. We all are. 

6/17/2010 | BRETT PRICE
                                                 For Caitlin Wheeler

Blues and whistle-ditty, disunited

states of an orchestrating I

depth tremolo rising in its rests

attention’s pleasures sans intention

today take shape as sporadic

jack-hammer over kiddo breath

lovely click-track intervals set

by time spent with you

with star ship innocence

clipped rockets don’t stress

until transmissions first sink

to crackle then premonitions

of an orbit never closing in

for the kind of contact

it takes to call a planet home

but joy-tanked and giddy

no-script revival, lately spacious

barn like architecture

owl-ready, gave up the hunt

now feel the real Summer

heat on trigger finger

it’s like this, give

yourself a present daily

and see you soon, Daniel Boone.


I want one too only

when I get it I want that catsuit

covered in barbs latched

with feral thread the kind

you try to bite with teeth but

get stuck and become

blackguard to her genius

Review your measurements

and see what I mean?

That’s a good little

baby, that’s a sweet

little cad!

Now put away your strongboots

Let mama have a look

25: Wash Your Hands   from “Insurgentes” | MARC NASDOR

Approach the officious & horsewhip: front/
behind make not the Wet Stool of Difference.
Be solicitous first, or pretend to be testicle 

bagged into vesicle. Clamp gloved hands
onto Subject’s suited knees, then spread 'em
to opposite nicks on his thingy. Jerking

his jewels, try twisting the throttle
on the income-flushed neighbor (special
price for hipsters, you pay quadruple).

Riding hard bareback on a downgraded
debtor: his member be flaxen, his toxins
be membraned, his kids run afoul

of their sorrows; & as this fails to pass,
you teach them how to finesse any gestures
that irritate positive cashflow. The Suit

his own underthing he's full of suspension;
like mayonnaise, pisha paysha! Gongs
parrot gonging, or gouging or gulping,

a truck horn blast blown thru unicorn ass.
Where cling Thy pasties, Thy wry case-
based pastries? Y’know but won’t won’t,

will you promise? Mighty Thor hammers
bastards: oh, speaking of bankers, u think
they’re all stewing in Bank Jail, u think?

One time smears phlegm, one hears them,
abutting embankments, & falling straight
upward like not-like, unlike like, like unlike.

from OH NO | BEN FAMA 

Click here to begin your tour,
to look into the process.
Ivan the inconsolable,
don’t forget how good things are.
You know you can always
sleep in the grass, plant a garden
in your chest. Ivan who opens
at night. Ivan sweet to lick. 
Find your life in a song.
The melody goes from red
to green to violent yellow.
There’s nothing you need to do.