Joseph Felkers is a junior at Catholic Central High School, in Grand
Rapids, Michigan (U.S.A.). His works appear or are forthcoming in
decomP magazinE, Superstition Review, and Emerge Literary Journal,
among others. He is a an editor for Polyphony H.S., a mentee and
reader for The Adroit Journal, and an ice cream connoisseur at his
local parlor.

Self Portrait as Favorite Smell (Ozone)

I don't feel so bad
when I croon waxing
, wax wash
in lent, metanoia. I am napalm slick
hands oiling scalps after formal & highschool
& dances, foil
for expo-only jewelers/bleach fence,

but you can call me skirt hem for
study hall/detention


My aunt who majored in chemistry for about five months at the local Catholic college says that her favorite smell is petrichor. "That's the scientific name for the sweet singe before the rain." She thinks she's science chic quirky. What she doesn't know is that petrichor is actually the thick albuterol inducing smell after the rain. What I know is that the downpour warning stench is actually the smell of ozone. At the Thanksgiving dinner table last fall, I tried to tell her the difference, and she told me not to talk with my mouth full. I wasn't talking with my mouth full.

If my aunt was a chemist, she'd know
that trioxygen smells
like absolution. If god was a chemist
he probably got a four
on the AP exam too. If I was queer, I probably
wouldn't say so. & if this year you are fine

I wish you one hundred more.

Haven: Van Buren County

The summer I learned that you could see
Palisades from my beach was the season
you called me a young god. I have buried
myself again & again under
sedimentary evidence & so my body
may be burnt, but will never be found.

What's the difference between burnt,
& melted?

What's the matter anyways
if you're in the hot
zone, here at the beach, or back home?
If you're going to die tonight, you might
as well do it

floating. A poem for Palisades. I had to redefine
the word, but fence & powerplant
mean two different
are too different of things.

Did you even think twice before you swallowed
the antibiotic that would send you back
to the place you came from?

This is the place where a map
is always a map is always on hand.
Where midwestern nice isn't just a young
god, because—maybe tonight he's a real one.

Maybe here, your ghosts & kings &
saints can be canonized
in the name of freshwater, baptized
in the tears of ancient
glaciers. They'll shed only a few, but we still

can be filled up, once more.

Combustion / Tabernacle

Ask me if I want you to open
like red to velvet, or if I can sweep
hallowed fruits into icon. I thought she had said a little body

never hurt no one
, but she meant party, she meant pop
song, no codas. Ask me if I can burn

in a room with no air. Ask me if I remembered anoxia,
freshman year and sponge and bi-

-ology exam. My life begins and ends
in the same eucharist in the same receptacle,
you can call me pyx. I can't pronounce

my own confirmation name. He's somewhere between
France and hermit. Swimming, sailor, drowning,

Silt Fence
after Robert Frost

You say there is something
that doesn't love a wall
, but what
if that something is a someone?
What if that someone is me? & what do I do
if I love a wall?

Today is an ozone
action day. I'll put up a barrier.
Before I build this wall Mrs. Muller
wants to know what I'm walling out.

It's just grass seed. She'll say dang
Joads, hillbilly heaven & I'll say good

fences make good neighbors.
You'll offend
mother if you keep trash
talking her landscaping. You will
me if you keep spilling
loam from your mouth
into the yard.

In the end the township will side with the property
containing the culvert. & in the end
all that matters is the property's line.

Back to Front.