"Madman Above the City," "My Mind Stripped Bare by Its Absence, Uneven," and "Criminological"

Madman Above the City

this conquering king
still needs to feel an infusion of power
from a desperate populace crawling to his feet
as he summons subjects
just to call upon his judgment
but before he can change this conversation
let me reveal
how our mad titan doesn’t bring direct destruction:
he contents himself with selecting
what he wants to survive while ignoring
carved rock diverging from one vision,
never smashing statues
while preferring to polish only a pretty few,
like a posh prince or a ship of dreams
as he lets decay lay waste to the rest
so he can’t be accused of taking his hammer
to a museum’s sculptures
with no stone dust on his pants or shirt…
in fact,
his hands have never borne a speck of dirt;
how else can he always mistake his reflection
for vision of an eastern sun so gloriously risen?



My Mind Stripped Bare, Uneven

No truth,
no answer,
or closure:
                             -Learn to write S I L E N C E slowly in the void.
                             -Letters become swarming wasps
                              waging war around your head
                              in a place
                              where you’re forced to stand still.

a balanced mind on a ping-pong table is a symbol for “repeat this phrase forever”

a player returning a serve by screaming has a chance of moving forward

filling empty space and taking its shape so well
                                                                            the vacuum regains its vacancy
                            as hollow containers implode.
Fairies rising from fading photos,
show a way inside…
                                       though I’ve impaled them with pins
                                                           like butterflies in a frame;
                                                    I don’t think the pictures are real anymore

if they ever were

                                             and I don’t believe their reality

if I ever did.

             The stages of loss become

  1. You miss what was there
  2. You miss being able
                                     to remember what you saw
  3. You feel like nothing ever stood in that spot
  4. Even if you know something has

Me [filled with determination]: Push through the asteroids and airless distance, past the edge of your universe, to a planet filled with stuffed animals that feel warm to the touch...

Also Me [fearing vulnerability]: …But keep your spacesuit on as you hold them, in case they’re animated by lethal radiation…

…now I’m floating in suspension, far above the world…




the main reason people turn to crime
as a way of life
won’t be financial opportunity,
               for the most part,
the anxious thrill
             of evading capture,
or the freedom in living past the rules
                                of normal society;
the main thing
               that’ll make people
commit to criminal groups
will be a longing for the privacy
               and bonding
only available
while working in secret,
    the way that lifestyle
       forces every interaction
                            under the radar
                            into the realm
of in-person meetings,
                            in parks, parking lots
or the droning noise of a laundromat,
like mafia movies
with a deeper sense of community
   than what’s found in legally omniscient
   that are as traceable as they are accessible,
                unlimited, though rooted in cold distance,
                and with an immaterial quality that’s freeing
                                       and formless in equal measure.



Paul Edward Costa

Paul Edward Costa is a writer, spoken word artist, teacher, and the 2019-2021 Poet Laureate for the City of Mississauga. He has featured at many poetry reading series in the Greater Toronto Area and has published over 60 poems and stories in literary journals such as Bewildering Stories, Lucent Dreaming Magazine, Former People Journal, POST-, and the Gyroscope Review. His first full length book of poetry The Long Train of Chaos was published by Kung Fu Treachery Press. 


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 - 21:56