The Angels Want Jimmy’s Head

The angels want Jimmy’s head.

Jimmy runs. Jimmy runs scared. Jimmy runs to church. God help me, please! Dark church, black-as-coal church, black-as-pits-of hell church. Can’t see. God help me, please! Can’t see Christ, cross, nails, thorns, painted blood on hands, feet…can’t see. God help me, please!

On altar, tiny light over picture of lamb. Lamb of God, lamb chops, lamb stew, Easter lamb rises from dead and runs…Jimmy runs.

The angels want Jimmy’s head.

-Slow down, Jimmy, Where you going? It’s Flower. Jimmy likes Flower. Flower’s OK.
-The angels want my head.
-Sure, Jimmy, sure they do, Flower says. Slow down. Talk to me, Jimmy. Flower likes Jimmy.
-Gotta get the fuck outa here. The angels want my head!

Jimmy runs. Flower runs after Jimmy. Ambulance runs after Flower. Angels run after ambulance. The angels want Jimmy’s head.

God, help me, please!

Jimmy’s in lockdown Ward. Isolation Room.
Jimmy hears wings. Jimmy feels wings on head. Angel wings.
Jimmy screams, screams.
Nurse gives Jimmy shot in ass.

Help me, please! Jimmy’s crying. Help me, please! The angels want my head!

The Devil looks at Jimmy’s head.
The Devil looks at Jimmy.

The Devil smiles.

Armament and Ornament

The prayer is offered,

and waked, the robins march thru

the chambers of open morning.

O, they are small and they hurt,

they bend and break to broken birds.


The morning gone as we talked

over the problem of bones—

shall we hang them for the children?

string them across the lights?

make secrets of them in vials?

There is no place for brittle things.


At once the yardplay is embarrassing and public

and the children’s teeth glint louder than keys.

She comes to you empty-fisted and unsatisfied

and pulls your hair and your ears—

O daddy i’d give anything for a small sparrow

to hold against my clothes—

and somewhere through an armor of wings

you point to the stones, which must be enough—

and the prayer is closed.


Victoria Haynes is a writer of poetry, fiction, and accordion music.

My History with Guns #3


My Daddy always liked to say

“The Blue Ridge Parkway

is the prettiest place

on God’s green earth.”

‘Course his heart

calls that part of the country home

so you have to allow for some bias.

He said it again

the day my cousin Tim drove us

crazy fast,

flipping us around

hairpin switch backs

on a one lane

unpaved country lane

that stepped like stairs

up the side of a round top mountain

not more than nine miles

from the spot my Daddy was born

and his own Daddy dropped dead.

“This is the cutest little church

you ever seen,” Tim is saying

‘cause he’s a preacher

fresh out of bible school

and he got himself an old country church

he wants to show us real bad.

The road just stops,

butts right up to Blue Ridge Bible Baptist,

like the road was just a long

twisted ribbon of driveway.

The church is one, cavernous

brown room

with dark pews down

both sides of a central isle

leading strait to a pulpit.

Tall windows

along the sidewalls

with dried glazing

and cracked panes

let the



mountain air

blow straight through.

Tim stands up front,

strides around,

his tennis shoe stomping pretty good

sending echoes off the walls

telling us this and that

about his plans

for the souls

of the dirt farmers

who gather to learn the wisdom

that my twenty-two year old cousin

has to offer.

After a time we pop the trunk on his car

and pull out a squirrel gun

Tim called it a “four ten twenty-two over under”

Which I know now

means it had two different barrels for two kinds of ammo

stacked one on the other.

Behind the bible church

we drag an old log

across a gully

and line it with the rusted

tin cans we find

lying around

plus the fender

off an old motorcycle

that quit running

decades earlier

and was left to rot.

I stand with my back to the church

close one eye

line-up down the barrel

and fill the mountain top

with thunder.

That first shot kicks,

I stumble over

fall on my ass

in wet leaves.

I stay there,

in the wet

looking up at the sun

the canopy swaying

over head

as the boy preacher

and my Daddy laugh and laugh.

The Request

I scattered your ashes as you requested

on horseback

horse galloping in clapping rhythms

and with the free behind me

you asked for one verse of song

with all the love I could muster in my lungs


amazing grace

how sweet the sound


I sang loud enough for the wind to catch it and push it around

in hopes that along with it

it would take this pain u requested me not to feel


please save a wretch like you

like me


maybe i’ll tell myself you’re there in the violet hushes of the sunset

or that you’re watching behind the blinding heat of the sun

and that i hadn’t done what i had done


you hung on long enough for me to say the miscellaneous things

we held hands and glances before u let go of the world and me

you requested i make sure i never leave you to the shadows of misery

that i finish things when u grew weak

you didn’t want to hear and not see

or stare at mute things

or wobble without direction

or ache endlessly

and i promised but now this promise feels like murder to me

and i wish i would’ve thought to ask you to send peace

and mercy when you reach the King


now i’m on horse whose galloping

your ashes dancing in the wind ascending

the free behind as you requested of me

and a verse of song


amazing grace

please make a sound

Of Sea and Spirits

When I walk along the waterfront of west Michigan, I forget about west Michigan.  I like that.  I like the sense of limbo, that this convergence of sea and sand is neither all water, nor all land.  Your will determines whether you choose to bounce on the beam of beach or edge into the surf. This is where I want my fresh corpse to be celebrated in true Viking fashion, my blazing body upon a wooden pyre, pushed off towards the horizon.  It would be a funeral fit for Terry Malloy.  You could be Terry Malloy.  A contender.  You could strike when the timing is right, block the blows bestowed you, and manage to rise to your feet when you’re a crumpled, bloodied mess.

No matter the performance of your roles, or the tenacity in your battles, your dream of immortality will asphyxiate under a marginal tombstone.  Panic ensues.  Run away.  Road trip!  We’ll raid the complacent bars of San Francisco; kneel before the spirit-dispensing altar.  Our bartender, aglow, God-like in the neon light, fills up our empty mugs and souls.  Desperate diversions rest in the tips of our cigarettes.  In time, we’ll stagger intoxicated to Pacific Coast Highway One.  To reach the summit, motions are of significance.  Funny how such orchestration leads to a precipice.  Behind Walgreens, in the dumpster, is where I want my ashes scattered.  I want my bone cocaine to settle in the Galapagos oasis of solidified kitchen grease, mingle with the speckling of chicken bones.  We all know the finality awaiting us – what does it matter?

Come, fellow lemming,
Mr. Caulfield saves those who
fall, not those who leap.


Mackenzie Slaughter is a student at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. She refuses to let periods of drudgery smother her creative zest.


I get my best ideas while in the shower.

Plums are best when sweet and cold.

I faint at the sight of blood.

I don’t know what color my hair is,

I’ve heard it both ways.

I pick spiderwebs with bare fingers.

Trains mimic washing machines and lull me to sleep.

I always unintentionally burn the toast.

Insecurity haunts


I hold a world record. Look it up.

I would have voted for Obama, if I was eighteen.

Unfortunately democracy only stems so far.

Nightly rituals are not to be broken;

Piece of chocolate, Italian soap.

I will listen to you, let you hit me,

Let you cry on my shoulder.

What are friends for?

I work to keep an open mind.

Laughter is like bells, shattering still air.

If I could, I would stand in sunshine and never move.

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