Three Poems (#2) – Shawnte Orion

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Emergency Quarters for Phone-booth or Arcade

Your jaundiced mouth 
never opens into speech.
Never yawns into sleep
because your phantoms 
refuse to be confined.

Perforated passageways 
between corridors never open 
to any rooms. Never lead 
to any doors. Never corner 
the immortality of eyes.

The chase is relentless 
on every level. So you binge
on pretzels & berries. 
Still your yellowed mouth 
never puckers for a kiss.

Don’t look back 
because your ghosts 
are never far behind 
no matter how many 
pills you swallow.



The Love Song of J. Alan Smithee

Alan Smithee forgot your birthday 
would fall on the same calendar day 
as last year. 

Hates your friends.

Pretends to be allergic to your Pomeranian.

Won’t stop talking 
about his ex, except to ask 
if you put on some weight. 

Proves codependency is a dish 
best served. 

Flirts with your sister.

Offers no apologies 
because sorry is too far out of the way.

But at least Alan Smithee 
dares to accept 
full responsibility for the red bra 
found in the laundry basket of whites 
that never belonged to you.


*Alan Smithee was the official pseudonym used when a movie was so horrible 
(even by Hollywood standards) that the director didn’t want their name attached 
to the credits.



The Streetlamp Clowns of Wasco

The streetlamp clowns all tumble 
from the other side of curfew
disguised in wigs, lipstick, and shadow.
Squirt nightmares from the blossom of night.

Juggle three ring insomnia and endless 
handkerchiefs—colorful scarves 
chloroform scented. 
Believe laughter is the best tourniquet.

The streetlamp clowns are eager babysitters.
Pockets full of balloon animal carcasses.
They know exactly which window 
peers into your bedroom

how much space remains 
between your mattress and the floor
how much silence can squeeze
into the back of your closet.

The streetlamp clowns wait
until you are old enough to curl
up in the fetal position, because reality 
is depression's favorite costume. 

The streetlamp clowns want you 
to know that the earth remembers 
bones longer than hearts and skin
but smiles are first to decompose. 
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About Shawnte Orion

Shawnte Orion’s first book of poetry The Existentialist Cookbook was published by NYQBooks. He is the current Procrastination Laureate, but his poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Barrelhouse, Gargoyle Magazine, and New York Quarterly. He was a Copper State Haiku Slam Champion and has performed at bookstores, bars, universities, hair salons, museums, and laundromats. http://batteredhive.blogspot.com View all posts by Shawnte Orion

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