S&R Literature

S&R Poetry: Wonderland, by JD Isip

     - Club 1350, Long Beach, California

Tonight I want to go to hell, I want
to know there are Hearts more rock
than the granite in me. Down
Anaheim Street, the yellow dandelion street lights
spread more sparingly in the rear view,
the city reaches—like a garden
of hungry blossoms and weeds—to me.

I’m going to hell, past Wilmington
where all is mechanical and rust
to Club 1350, a black wall, a rabbit hole
grafted to night, to sea water stench, to dark.
I’m going to hell, like Alice, who talks
To doors that warn:
“This is a Private Club, you may be asked
to leave” and I think how odd,

After all this time, hell still tries to imitate
heaven. Poor Hearts. I pray for them
shoving behind me, rushing to doom,
to some other wonder land—

The upper level of hell has lockers
to keep families and clothes locked up, mirrors
dripping streams of steam and no one looks through them.
Naked men, winter pale like rabbits or white roses.

They have no eyes—eyes are for love, eyes are
for heaven—just penises, pendulums
reminding you that you’re late! No matter,
hell is eternal.
Stairs sink to the next level, lit
on the sides like movie theater isles
and naked wanting bodies usher me
to the Queen’s Court…

It is hell’s second level and stinks of bleach and cum
of sweat and shit, decapitated Hearts and hunger, foul
from being so long in this dark, here
where it fermented and crawls up black walls,
On tiles where bare feet and asses lift it
on to the white bleached sheets, under
the angels, the Hearts, the ones
I need to see…

Body over body, indistinguishable,
some nightmare Nazi-camp deck of bodies, stacked
still groans, still sweats and shivers, cold
in the black walls pierced with glory holes;
The red diamond lights and the porn showing
the Hearts how the angels do it, and they
do it, staring through the looking glass,
at me, and I know they don’t see…


J.D. Isip’s poetry has appeared in DASH Literary Journal, Loch Raven Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, and Thirty First Bird Review. His play, WISER, was published in In Uniform anthology from Slash Books. A short story, “The Flowers,” was published in the Pain and Memory anthology from Editions Bibliotekos. He is currently a doctoral student and English Teaching Assistant at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

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