J. Michael Wahlgren


Book of Love

I sulk inside of lexicon, after-word,
In my own chapter, the lies

the ties to paginate—
The phoenix

who fails to burst
at the sight of becoming.

I am the falcon
who fails to wing it—

We’re right behind you,
on the streets of DC.

I scribbled drunkenly upon
your photographs.

Radio, Radio

For C.M.

I wish for the whisper,
the siren—
the hole in sleep.

Inside of your calf:
a knot of

Hands are grey, without
sequin; shiny as
a sun— I pose.

The story is told in the first person,
the I is on demand,
We leap to faith,

Await upon our waiter;
so calm inside, my love—
Only the taste of medium-well, if at all

Possible by the fact,
of the matter: the radio
bending its waves to my awaiting ear.


I want to plummet, I want to fall

(as we turn
into pawns, with dawn upon us)
in love with you.

I want the heart to reveal me,

there in a drift
of suburban ocean air.

Two cards flip as dolphins

Two Queens make-up in the mirror,
stare into the flash
of a begging camera.

Will you turn me into king,
or czar?,

or leave a scar?, if so, be it.

You're quite a steal

I stole the light from your skin
(even though we were kin) No remedy

In this dark room, I start. I begin
to seek you out— O corners, V bends,

I apostrophes, no M, ovulating light.
The greenery was there, “blinding blinds”

“climbing up the walls” detached from the web—
I just stole from Alice, but

She may not notice. If I “play my cards right”,
I’ll be without broom in sky. Without

beam in eye. Positive? Yes / No / Maybe so.
I devour the knots of your skyline, so

horizontal the horizon, so vertical the shades
of vertical. Call me there. Call me out.

Keys to the World

Atlantis-like, I fathom the depth of keys, plateaus. There are little slits, inside—letters sent via post to chandelier fall on top of host. I am the only signature: the small anchor on top of caps, to drop like a needle with the waves. I am threading a pigeon-hole. Perhaps, we'll meet when you are bound to surround as a moat of a castle. McKenna is there. McKenna disappears, as in, a magic felt when her first pair of Queens is dealt. I turn the key into make-believe.


When delve becomes dive, as in birthday candles, I omit. You're a wonder-wall now. The wish that once carried my books, the girl whose locker squeaked with pictures of models, intertwine as a knot with picturesque scribbles--- I want to give & forget. This is a formed ode around the world; In tune with the gramophone's antique cue. I empty pockets of gold & diamond. Now a grandmother after an early birth. No signs of showers, but new briefs. I want to fill in the blank with sheets. Roll on, Roll in. Stay alive for a few years to see you grow from roots.


We are undersea— pillow fort,
after pillow fort, a world
of make believe, somewhere parted.
I am the sandbox that somehow
departs with minuscule grain;
A pane seen through to: McKenna is washing

the dishes
on her own. I
am assuming she is grown up
into womanly, comely, make-up.
I, too, am igneous—
a castle, filled brim-like
broom flying into the horizon— a witch.

Perhaps, this is dark enough to go.
Perhaps, I am a part in the braid,
the locks of keys, the locks of hair, a
silent tweed. Perhaps
what we build is a castle after all
the smoke clears, after all the
pillows have lost their feel.


I want to start in a brittle fog. You walk into checkerboard tablecloths saying aloud: I am the ring bearer (the duplication of a lumberyard) to your metaphor. You are nearing light throwing cigarettes from a caboose, somewhat shy, somewhat chandelier & the gramophone is hard to hear. You unveil there without a ticket. The head-waitress who longing for a verbal tip, ends in soprano— 3/4 time.

J Michael Wahlgren edits for Gold Wake Press. He is author of Silent Actor (Bewrite, 2008) & two chapbooks on Maverick Duck Press. Forthcoming work can be found in Matter, Ouroboros Review & elimae.