The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Jim Elledge



At first, it was just a murmur, no louder than the sound of a fire-engine-red fingernail run along a silk tie. That was Monday. By Wednesday, I thought it sounded like a breeze slipping through brittle grass blades during the last days of a drought, but then I changed my mind. It sounded more like wind through the brittle, dusty branches of a dead tree. Thursday, Friday came. I was wrong, again. The sound rose, distinct as the sun struggling to rise from the horizon. A song, it was, hummed, its singer never pausing to take a breath. At midnight, it sounded like an old man clearing his throat over and over. Saturday morning, it pitched itself into a scream. Saturday noon, a screech. We’ve begun to stuff cotton into our ears or, if we have a few candles, to melt them down into plugs. Those who didn’t suddenly begin to screech, too. Sunday is today. Sunday. No canticles, no psalms for us. Just the moths, their wings dusty and beating, their mouths open, open so wide.



Jim Elledge

Mister’s Plan for an Education Dashed!


The U of Phoenix rejected Mister’s

application. No reason why, but he’s

sure his love of martinis and other

monkeys on his back had something (perhaps

everything) to do with it. His dream of

an MBA down the toilet, he turned

to verse


                 There once was a lad named Mister,

who blew a tuba ’til his lips blistered.

Squawks flew from its bell,

                                     dragging him to hell,

that dull, middle-aged, sob-sister Mister


—to soothe his owie. He downloaded aps

then napped an hour, dreaming of dollar

bills falling from heaven like autumn leaves.

He woke, peeked outdoors. But no, still winter.




JIM ELLEDGE's most recent books are Bonfire of the Sodomites, poems about the arson of the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in the French Quarter (Main Street Rag Press, 2017) and The Boys of Fairy Town: Sodomites, Female Impersonators, Third-Sexers, Pansies, Queers, and Sex Morons in Chicagos First Century(Chicago Review Press, 2018). He has received two Lambda Literary Awards, one for his book-length poem A History of My Tattooand the other for Who’s Yer Daddy? Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners, which he co-edited with David Groff. He lives in Middlesboro, KY and San Juan, PR.


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