"Lines Hallucinating Stoned Ladders Walking in Circles" and "Ladies Night at Cafe Trauma"

Lines Hallucinating Like Stoned Ladders Walking in Circles

opium nights in a broken mansion
white petals and a fright of needles
warm on wooden stairs
under an insect moon in a human
universe fuzzy with southern sibilants

like tokens of despair,
strands of gray moss hang
off black pin oak, shades of past sins,
whisper and shudder in shadowed air,
filmy images, heavy to bear.


white opium nights in floral
whisperings in a broken mansion
petals on wooden stairs
under an insect moon it’s
a human universe of sibilants

shuddering in shadowed air
it’s 3:00 am in the south
Bronx, but it’s not here it’s hot,
sins whisper sardonyx
heavy to bear and layered


black pin oak hanging hot off
bronze sins of whispering sardonyx,
a kind of onyx, white and layered,
shimmering on southern siblings
under an insect august moon

my mum’s birth in white
crystalline opium, smoky
with filmy images, hard bearing
tokes of despair wading
in shotguns of gray redemption


Chrysanthemums of august
shotgun redemptions​
a mum’s birth shimmering
in sibilants broken in a mansion
of white petals at 3:00 am

afternoons of insect moons
moaning on wooden stairs
of gray moss pedaling milky white
in a human universe tacking black
shades of past pin oak sins


unshriven tokens of despair
hang like strands of gray moss
breezy with southern sibilants
beating tropes of august
off black pin oak hot

idling on brindled stairs
in shadowed air, it’s not the Bronx
at 3:00 am under an insect moon,
it’s a human universe, heavy to bear
in broken hope and addled time.


tropes of august form onyx
stairs that ladder circles
as gentle doulas usher
shimmered moons in spirals
hurtled in planetary motion

of crystalline gravity
through a human universe
sentient of bone and blood
grounded of foot and claw
redeemed in stone and sky



Ladies’ Night at Café Trauma

Lines wandered, wondering
where heading, where, and
whether, hallucinating world
or world hallucinating line,
them, old decade, old song

wandering lost in head,
in word, in name, last loss,
loss no found to find,
folded in felt lost, and lost are,
a silent, a scar, no sound of is.

Begin again the broken
mansion sons of man, sons
of again a gain the lost best
minds of lost wandering the
midnight, no, 2 am, sweats  

of borrowed streets of silent
daughters voyaging toward
homes filled with dust and
detritus and grime lacking
wind eyes to air their there.



Martha Jackson Kaplan

Martha Jackson Kaplan is a Pushcart nominated poet and flash fiction writer who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a passion for history, a sense of place, and language itself. She has published both in print and online and has won awards from Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. You can find her flash fiction at Bending Genres II, an essay in Bramble V (online and in print), and is thrilled to be published again with Unlikely Stories Mark V. More about her can be found at MarthaKaplanPoet.com.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, February 4, 2019 - 22:11