Poetry: Mati Shemoelof

Straight fundamentalism

Gays were sent to concentration camps in Chechnya. Some of them were returned to their families, knowing that the shame would prevent them from marrying off the girls of the family. In Chechnya, they say there are no gays.

Don’t take me there, I don’t want to wake up with them
Those that think that our poems are

Words of perversion, bestiality, affliction, embarrassment, deviancy,
A word that must be treated with medications, a ghost that threatens their peaceful nights
No closet, concentration camp nor shame will bury the feeling
That we are different and thusly beautiful, we are different and so we are beautiful

Mati Shemoelof is a poet, author and editor. His writing is diverse and includes six poetry books, plays, articles and fiction. His works have won significant recognition and prizes. He is one of the leading voices of the Arab-Jews (Mizrahi Movement), and a founder of the “Culture Guerrilla” movement in Israel. He is also a founder of “Poetic-Hafla,” a series of multi-language Poetry-Art-Music parties in Berlin. These days, he is writing his second novel as part of the rising Israeli Jewish Diaspora in Berlin. Remnants of the Cursed Book, his latest short story collection was published by Kinneret Zmora (2014). His sixth book of poetry, Hebrew Outside of Its Sweet Insides, was published in 2017 by Pardes Publishers. German editions of his poems will be published by the Berlin publisher AphorismA in 2018.

© Mati Shemoelof 2018

Poetry: John Grey

A Haunting

The Barrett boy is locked
beneath the lake,
his body splashing like
a fish’s tail,
his face pressing panic
hard against solid chill.

Children run everywhere,
flail their arms,
scream “Help” loud enough
to crack the ice some more.

Last year, the Lincoln’s youngest
got lost and died in Baker’s wood.
The year before, the Andrews kid
fell into a steep crevice.
It’s nature’s way of saying…
but of saying what?

Soon adults, parents.
Fire-trucks, cops, are on the scene,
lights blazing, tongues flapping.
If this poem
was called “too late”,
it would just be this stanza.
If it were “you can’t protect
them from everything,”
it would be the one before.

But it’s regarding
the Barrett boy as revenant,
his pale blue face
staring up through
a glazed, inchoate surface,
eyes spaced wide
by invisible pennies –
it’s about memory and dreams –
whatever the state
where we’re reminded.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

© John Grey 2018

Poetry: stephanie roberts

It’s The Smoke That Kills You

My memory cuts like a machete while the written words stutter butter knife.
The past has a chasm, between a circus with its menace of clowns, lurking
unreconciled, and the now of these pretty pleases. On a scale of one to ten
how would I rate my childhood? My four made him reconsider me as less
than I seemed.

The present denies the past by appearance. Obese half your life, the gain of
thinness for the remainder presents a puzzle of where did that more of you
come from?
Where’s the reliable connection after perfect attendance at the
school of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, with a bachelor’s in May the Bridges
Burned Behind Me Light My Way—summa cum laude.

A skeleton’s hand fondles my shoulder; there is something many-eyed under
the bed. The feather of my voice pains me—an unpleasant reminder of its
fragility, and inability to carry arpeggios of love without outages of audible.
This begins the story of my friend Denise.

Then girls were Lisa, Cheryl, and Denise, with a light sprinkle of Sharons.
On the evening news we all watched Denise’s older sister die in a fire. Big
deals—fires, and children dropping from high-rises like bags of garbage (as
the eyewitness, Javier, my classmate, was quoted, in The New York Daily
). The camera watched the window where she tried to rise to life before
her transformation. A price for living in the sky.

It’s the smoke that kills you. Spooky. Grandma Martin had a burn scar her
entire right side the outcome of a tango with cotton gown and old-timey oil
lamp. Her daughter inherited a cold terror of fire and the peril of the house
burning down, in the night, with us unattended, while she worked. You can
die a thousand times from fire not burning you.

After a time, Denise returned to school wearing nice new threads of the past.
Older sisters have the nicest things. The end. See how poorly the past plays?
and even lies? Denise was never a friend.


stephanie roberts is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her work is featured or forthcoming in numerous journals, in North America and Europe, including Arcturus, The Maine Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Burning House Press, The Gambler, and Claudius Speaks. She was a finalist in the Anomalous Press Open Reading, the 7th Fortnight Prize of Eyewear Publishing LTD, Medusa’s Laugh Press Nano Text Contest, and the Causeway Lit 2016 Fall Poetry Contest. The self-published author of the poetry collection The Melting Potential of Fire, she counts among her strengths passionate curiosity and good humor. Twitter @ringtales.

© stephanie roberts 2017

Poetry: Brandon Marlon

Subtext of a Letdown

Dear Writer (no-name treatment bodes ill),

Thank you for your submission of “10 Poems”
to Reprobate Quarterly (we have a 2-poem limit).

We appreciate the chance to read your poems,
especially “The Elated Onanist in Apt. #12B”,
but regret to inform you that unfortunately
we must pass on your submission at this time
(or at any time, in case you were wondering).

As you can imagine, we receive many more
submissions than we can possibly publish,
and due to editorial limitations we must
regularly decline works of tremendous merit
(though that hardly pertains in this instance).

This is not a reflection of the quality of your work
(rather, of the disturbed mind that produced it).
We invite you to submit again after six months
(by which time we may have recovered).

If you haven’t already, please do subscribe
to our journal (just because we exclude your work
doesn’t mean we won’t exact your dough).

Best (of luck shopping around such drivel),

The Editors (jejune poseurs in mismatched pyjamas)


Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 200+ publications in 27 countries. www.brandonmarlon.com.

© Brandon Marlon 2017