Caper's Poets

Dearest Caper Readers and Writers,

Caper Literary Journal is now live — below and in a much prettier PDF here.

The below poems include two dozen+ new authors, ranging in age from 13 to 70+, with authors from nearly every continent. We’re working on Antarctica. We are in love with the strength of the issue — variety of style and perspective in the writing is obvious.

We hope you enjoy the writing. Comments are welcome, as are submissions.

And when you’re done reading, read about the issue and other updates at the Caper blog, The Speakeasy — where you can see that we dedicated the newest issue to Albert Camus and other little dibits about submissions, publishing, and other goodies!


Caper Editor-in-Chief
Lisa Marie Basile



Filed under: Editor's Comments, Issue 3

Ravels — Jomo Chiteji

A dream


the pen pierced you,

hooked, and pulled


See, now

it has been a needle, after all


These ravels are yours,

on this snow

Filed under: Issue 3, Jomo Chiteji, Uncategorized,

The Blue Mug — Robert Phelps

That blue mug.

You drank only from that mug
Your morning coffee.
You called it your ‘lucky mug.’

Habitually, every morning, you
Wrapped the slender fingers of both your hands in an
Embrace of the brew, of the day,

Of your life with me. As real as
The heat of the coffee.
Every day.
Every day the blue mug.
Your coffee.
Your life.

I had forgotten about that damned mug,
Now sitting alone and blue
In the back of the cupboard.

Filed under: Issue 3, Robert Phelps,

Translation — Caroline Depalma


the dawn sky sets into pearl and smoke,

year’s now passed through itself.

America, a still warship on the horizon at mourning,

university t-shirts underneath uniforms

of the executed and on the battlefield we can find

our anatomy lessons.  


ma’a ssa’lāma, lā afham

we don’t want you here  


hiding in the phosphorous rain is the man

I have no longer sought out to marry.

His confessions now write home to me

in gunpowder and spit, the uncertain hand

of a lost spirit.

Filed under: Caroline Depalma, Issue 3,

Summer 1970 — Amy Soricelli

Carmen lived on the top floor of the cloudless Bronx.
Her window faced the moon.
Sometimes Carmen would pile up her stuffed animals on a chair,
By the window – like steps.
She’d say “dare me?”
Her eyes all twinkly, shiny with death.
Carmen’s brother, Hector,
Handsome bad in ripped everything –
Never went to school.
He died right there in the street one night –
Carmen all shrugged shoulders, easy care….
Sniffing back her tears, tough-acting
With her broken heart and pedicure…
And the police cars, with their alien lights,
Around and around on my bedroom ceiling.

Filed under: Amy Soricelli, Issue 3,

For Ida, May She Rest In Sobriety — Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom

A flapper in another life. A bright red

bird. Born in a hurricane — or melted,

rather, like a witch. Not her wings

never gifted. Dripping blood instead

of wax. She sat waiting for a bone.

Didn’t like the new carpet, its chemical

smell. Didn’t understand about the stupid

glockenspiel. She would never learn

French, or take the bar. She didn’t buy

my bullshit, either. All that drivel about

love. Where’s your pun with its tongue

furled, its venom spring-loaded?

Daughter of an angry breed of muse –

something storm-dark, Gothic, High

Romantic. But she was something else,

had made a clean break – near enough.

Something witty and holding its liquor

until it’s off the elevator. No one

impressed. OK, impressed, a little.

The way it held its drink, the jaunty angle

of its cigarette. Try to feed a baby

in that pose. You had to admire. Not

to envy, but admire. She never learned

to milk a cow. A perfect Roman figure,

small on top. She could sport a pretty

giggle. You just wanted her to come, to

say her little lines, and leave. You didn’t

want to be the one to drive her home.

Filed under: Issue 3, Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom,

Blue Lantern — William Doreski

Determined to catch me sinning,

you accuse me of attending

synagogue with atheist intent

and of buying heroin to give

to grammar-school kids. No wonder

you once caused a train wreck—bodies

arrayed by the track, a pair

of locomotives locked like stags.

Good thing we didn’t marry

after graduating high school

as your drunken father insisted.

He obsessed on your sex life

and now he drools in the nursing home

where the nurses think he’s cute.

Snow piles up in the alleys.

Rat-tracks simper from trash can

to trash can. Your flat overlooks

the site of a notorious fire.

They hauled a hundred carcasses

from the wreckage. You inspired

that disaster by staring intently

at the people going in and out

of the night club in the basement.

Upstairs, where the fire started,

a lone ghost prowled with blue lantern,

which you read as the emblem

of the life we failed to share. Now

enshrouded in wealth, you regret

nothing but the failure to catch me

in sins worse than yours. You crouch

by your gas fireplace and warm

the palms of your hands and pretend

you’re going to brand me with scorching

I’ll never shed; but black ice

scours the winter streets, concealing

the places where I’ve bled for you.

Filed under: Issue 3, William Doreski, ,

Evil Ballerina Naked in Snowstorm — William Doreski

The evil ballerina poses

naked in a snowstorm. Her skin

is the rind of a melon except

where the seams pucker. Photos

will prove she was manufactured,

not born. Wielding your camera,

you feel great crosscurrents flow

from one art form to another.

At last she dances, defying wind

from the northeast. You snap photo

after photo, but the snow blurs

the features for which the public

will pay real money, while the cold

by rippling and combing trees

whispers of intimate moments

ordinary people rarely share.

The evil ballerina prances

amid the drifts. She leaves tracks

dainty as deer-prints. Her body’s pale

as the storm, and for a moment

you wonder if she’s really there.

But she explodes on tiptoe, flaunting

her neutral expression to spite

desires only masochists indulge.

You wrap a blanket around her

and guide her toward the warm indoors

to confide woman to woman.

But she breaks away and twirls

into the slanting storm, leaping

and kicking like a runaway colt

and leaving you with camera slung

around your neck and the shame

of remaining discreetly clothed.

Filed under: Issue 3, William Doreski,

The Peddler — Martin Willitts, Jr.

This is a sample of my goods.
My pans are useful when all others fail.
You can leave it on the stove and it will not blacken.
Bang it against a rock; it will not dent.
It is more reliable than some husbands.
I see by the nod of your head you agree.

Here is some white linen.
Notice how it can wipe away sadness.
You can wave it as the solitary men pass by.
I can tell by your blush this would be welcomed.

This is something special. Only for you.
It is a sponge from an ocean of laughter.
Soap your breasts. When you are dry,
you will find your husband’s fingerprints.
I know that this is what you desire most.

Filed under: Issue 3, Martin Willitts, Jr., ,

The Wayback Machine — CL Bledsoe

Saturday morning is a eulogy for Memphis
wrestling, “Dick Williams’ Magic Hour,” the optimism
of emphatic ignorance. The Lone Ranger wears his mask
because he is a ghost, not a coward. The Rifleman can choose
not to use his gun
unless someone really deserves
to be shot. Even then, he just wounds them. The smell
of horses, gunpowder burning
on the tongue. (Bad) men screaming. I would brush
my teeth with a piece of leather, go without bathing
every day, and I would not cry, even when the arrows
pierced my skin. They always grazed anyway.
was my father as much as anyone whose name
I happen to share. Back then, we didn’t know
we were worthless, so we did great things. Back then,
Saturday morning was Sunday comin’ down. All
was forgiven in the enthusiasm of youth. The Noble
Savage may torture, but he never betrays
his nature, Kemo Sabe. The dusty plains of boyhood
stretch ever onward, un-owned, interrupted only by
commercial breaks, sugared crunchy bits
to turn the milk pink.
Saturday morning tells us a man can paint
his face and dance for children and still look his father
in the eye. A man can play pretend well past
boyhood and still walk the aisles of Piggly Wiggly. These men.
Outside, the sun is beginning to rise and the Space Cadet
can’t find his decoder ring. Soon, there will be chores: fish
to feed, fields to walk as the sun scolds him awake. Bullies
who don’t seem to understand that bad guys don’t win.
He will not cry. Even when disappointment comes for his heart
like a gang of outlaws. He will stand tall, face them down.
Evil clouds the aim, after all.

Filed under: CL Bledsoe, Issue 3,

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