note from editor:

George Adamski's photo of Venusian spacecraft taken in California (1952), later deemed a hoax.

This is the first issue of Phantom Kangaroo in 2012, so it’s only appropriate that it would land on Friday the 13th. This is also the first issue of PK since the publication schedule was changed to four times a year. Forthcoming issues of Phantom Kangaroo will be published on April 13, July 13 and Oct. 13. 

If you’re wondering what the elusive kangaroo will be doing with his offtime — I have no idea, but I have theories. One being that the kangaroo is really an alien, but not just any kind of alien — a time traveling alien that likes to visit other dimensions. He’s probably a hoarder too. I think he goes on these extended trips to other realities just to shop their flea markets. The guy is determined to collect curios from every planet, century and universe. He spends all his money on things like Chinese dragon candle holders and snowglobes of Atlantis that he still rides around in his 1950s spacecraft. His vintage UFO is so crowded with junk that he can’t even host proper parties. I’m thinking about holding an intervention. 

More information about the date, time and location to come, but for now, I hope you enjoy the 14th issue of PK. 


Claudia Lamar, January 2012



by Andrew Chmielowiec

i want to be the one that
shaking children tell stories about,

on bright nights around
the campfire.

i want them to think that it’s

really me

whistling in the wind,
and pulling at their hair.

i want that smell of summer.

i want those laughing golden stars.


Another Creation Myth

by Catherine Owen

So now I bring you back from ashes,
re-form your small waist, scarred hands, long spine
from dust, take the tiny remnants of finely crushed bone
and re-make your face, its strong jaw, its fragile
way of looking at me and within moments you are
as you were, in one of the rooms we shared, sitting
quite close in a chair, smiling and yes, beautiful,
and I say to you, "What now, that I have brought
you back from the dead?" knowing there is no answer to this,
that your ashes are buried beneath the cedars, unreachable,
that there is no chair and no room, that I have not been able to
start the world over again so I can stop you from dying.


To an Abandoned Cornfield

by Chris Kobylinsky

Where the fading trail fizzled out,
Trills of unseen molted crickets
Pulsated in an enclosed field
Covered in prickly cornstalk stubs
And untamed successional growth.
A dome-less silo stood leaning
Slight like an old man ruminating over a chessboard.
Its depressed shadow loomed over
Congruent, parallel furrow-scars;
Its edifice was marred with rust.
Out of its decapitated
Neck, vines had accreted longer
Than Samson’s hair. As I took a
Curious step closer, a pair
Of crows, like discovered lovers,
Sprang up and out from behind some
Disorderly, shaggy bramble.



by Christy Effinger

I remember the day our cars
left town without us.
We came out of the office
at five o’clock
to find them gone.
No note, no goodbye,
just gone.

How many times had they driven us
to work and back again?
How many times had they carried home
groceries and housewares and children?
They took us where we needed to go—
not wanted, but needed to go—
the drugstore, the dry cleaner’s,
the bank;
a child’s cello lesson or
track meet;
the in-laws’ house on Sunday.
Every Sunday.
Every blessed Sunday.

We used to joke
those cars could drive our routes
without us,
but when they finally got the chance,
they didn’t.
When they finally got the chance,
those cars drove straight out of town,
away from our state in four different directions.

The cops found Maria’s car
1200 miles south on a Florida beach,
tires half-buried in sand,
windows down and doors flung open.
There was pelican poop on the windshield,
an empty rum bottle in the backseat.

Ty’s car drove north to Canada,
ran the border and left the road
at the first forest it came to.
It kept going
even when the tires blew out
one by one, even when it was
riding on rims.  And when the rims
bent and the axles broke,
well, then it stopped.
Or so the ranger told us.
He told us, too, of the fox
that claimed the car
for her family—call it Karma,
if you consider Ty’s record of road kill.

Donnie’s car drove itself off a bridge
in Ohio.  We should have seen that coming.
It had been sick for years,
dribbling fluid, sputtering at stoplights,
coughing up white smoke
as it rattled around town.
Workmen hauled its rusted carcass
from the river, gave it a proper burial
in a Cleveland junkyard.  

My car is still missing.
It was last seen
speeding through Kansas,
headed west across the ripening prairie.
But that was years ago,
and I no longer expect
to hear anything.

For a while after my car left me,
I thought about it
each night when I closed the garage door
before bed, wondering if I should
leave the porch light on
just in case.
And I thought about it again
sometimes between dreams:
why the car fled,
where it was going,
and who would find it
when it got there.


The Least Musical Skeletons

by Gus Iversen

There are freshly dead ones
Shaking their skeletons disapprovingly
Like toys from overdeveloped countries
Towards the migraine of eternity

The blunted nuisance of choosing
A chandelier - a sun angle
For noises that install their own
Kinds of sense or something
Undefined and pure in meter

The skeletons that need to be told
When to wake up and go to bed and
Please lay down and be
My xylophone skeletons

Artemis: Diana, Again

by Jim Davis

She peeled back petals of the rose
to the core, where our world was.
Now that ephemera been shed, she sings
about a picture of you
bound in a skein of guitar strings –
more specifically, the you that sat at the campfire
on a section of stump taken from the woodshed
at Elmwood Terrace.\\

One day, the absence of familiarity
with a notion like love will fall away, drift to the grass
like petals. Soft, humming sentiment
to which I would
like to identify with
less. Though my cheek bone is swollen
like ripe purple fruit, I design
a map of the far side of this earth’s moon – the width of these
United States. Callisto, Ganymede, circle Jupiter
in an orbit that will one day collide, their tragedies

Mare Imbrium
Mare Tranquillitatis
Mare Nectaris – where once was water.
And Oceanus Procellarum – the vessel
of one of my weekend poisonings
pouring itself into the pocked face of Diana: ours.\\

Diana, in the early 60s, was a fat, waxing gibbous.
Unlike the waning crescent of this and every day
between 1969 and 1972, when we walked all over her.

Now hear this, you: the practitioners of Santeria
take the head from a Burmese python with a rusted kitchen tool
in praise. Far away, we stab, we enter

that face of moon, pocked and cratered - hung over
the city of my big shoulders, to be congruent
in all our corresponding angles, in pure, Anglo-Saxon text

to be read by false light. The hunt. The violent language of
everything, once it has been, explained.\\


electric aliens

by Lucia Olga Ahrensdorf

with talons of deep pink
and pupils of darting ink
they leapt around the moon

with leopard skin of plastic
and nails of such elastic
they punched a hole into the moon

with yells of screeching clams
and ferocity of sherpan rams
they began to attack the moon

with a sudden hush of painted awe
they all stood silent and hushedly saw
liquid spurt out of the moon

with the viscosity of frozen tea
the rainbow sludge flew gleefully
at the spectators surrounding the moon

they came out of their trance
and began their tarantella dance
happily drinking the juice of the moon

but alas by the rays of the morn
when the sun the color of corn,
shone on the face of the moon

on the ground, there were small holes everywhere
large, dirty, pockmarks, permanently flared
and there was no one to be seen on the moon


Love Smashed Us

by Michael Dwayne Smith


We spin in our little boy beds.  Top speed: imperceptible, inevitable.  Waiting to be split.  Collided.  Exploding into world. Veering off into our steamy nights of future.   Disappearing, one blue molecule at a time.
Slick-pages under my mattress ignite.  Energy, release, repeat—obsession consumes, an effigy of red licorice. My charred lips will stencil black kisses over six hundred salty miles of flesh, of curves, and suspense.  We shall be the polluting of sad girls rescued from small town bars, the liquor of one last hope, fuel burning into gravitational collapse.
Are we still in bed?  I can feel the quantum space my organs used to fill.  Oxygen under blankets.  I think about good health, the good life, but can't paint a likeness.  And wonder about love, but don't try to hide in anyone's quiet, or cigarette lit darkness.  Green glowing eye of carbon monoxide alarm, you comfort me more than you could ever know.
Sleep is a paper boat.  I'm soggy with memory.  Fog creeps over the ocean, event horizon, and I am, or am not fusion, and I wake or soon imagine I wave toward a far shore, breaking against an imprint of stars on the rocks that rock in the sway of cooling planets and tides, floating upside down and backward, beneath my very own particle-thin slice of inverted yellow moon.


Girls with Antlers

by Richard Peabody

You’re not accustomed to girls with antlers
shining whitely from their brows
but you have to admit it turns you on.

“Where have you been?” they chorus.
“They’re totally in.”

Girls with antlers
carry you from dawn to dusk.

They inflate the bellows.
Massage your neighborhood.

After the ether ponies have raced
around your sarcophagus,

after you’ve drunk enough potcheen
to attain Celtic blood,

after you’ve listened to “Danny Boy”
for the 10,000th time,

only then will girls with antlers
anoint your feet with margarine,

steep you in black tea
to dye your skin with tannins,

tie a raven to your wrist
so you may dance

nimbly across moonlit teacups.

If only you could
touch those deciduous horns
stroke that spongy velvet.


Everything’s the Devil

by Ricky Davis

For instance, when you start a car, you put the devil into the devil and turn it. Then you put your foot on the devil and shift devils, and you drive the devil down the devil until you reach wherever it is you’re going. When you brush your teeth, you’re actually brushing (more or less) 32 devils, using a long devil with a bunch of little fibrous devils on one end. When you inhale, you’re breathing the devil into your body, which is also the devil. Descartes said that there’s a devil trying to deceive us at every turn, but I don’t buy that, since we’re all devils too and that puts us on the same side. Babies are the devil. Old people are the devil. Dogs and cats are the devil. The earth and the sky are the devil. So are plants. And birds. Hell, that thing some people call God is the devil. The devil is the devil. Everything’s the devil. But that’s okay. Because if everything’s the devil, then everything is exactly what the devil is. And that’s everything. So, everything’s everything. Relax.


Things oral

by William C. Blome

What a lovely songster is the English sparrow
about his rainspout home; I took to yelling
I’m only divorced five hours since lunch;
the greengrocer’s shrill whistle got my attention
yesterday, he sold me some terrific endive;
and my largest pinto pony, hands higher
than any ever on our farm save one, swallowed
pinking shears last Wednesday in his stall.


contributor bios

andrew chmielowiec lives in new york's hudson valley, where he teaches on the weekdays, and sleeps on the weekends.

Catherine Owen has published nine haunted collections of poems and one of prose. Other spooky facts about her can be found on her website: This poem is from Cineris, a manuscript dedicated to her spouse who died in 2010.

Chris Kobylinsky is studying English literature as a graduate student at Western Connecticut State University. He has been a writer of poetry and stories for as long as he can remember. His writing is not only inspired by his many literary heroes — such as Shakespeare, Homer, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and Gerard Manley Hopkins — it is also inspired by the hay bale sprinkled pastures, the stone wall–laced forests, and the abandoned silos of New England. Chris has recently completed his first young adult novel and is pursuing a career in publishing.

Christy Effinger teaches English at a community college in Indianapolis.  Her writing has appeared in Southern Indiana Review, Word Riot, elimae, Dark Sky Magazine, All Things Girl, Cezanne's Carrot, EarthSpeak Magazine, Girls with Insurance, Melusine, and elsewhere. 


Gus Iversen is a native San Franciscan, a founding member of the ILOANBooks literary collective in Brooklyn, NY and the bassist for Phil and the Osophers. He likes cashews, oceans, laundromats, and mechanical pencils. He has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing and consequently works at a veterinary clinic. He was kicked out of Six Flags in New Jersey last summer and briefly banned from the amusement park. This experience informs every aspect of his writing. (


Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College and now lives, writes, and paints in Chicago. Jim edits the North Chicago Review, and his work has appeared in After Hours, Blue Mesa Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Ante Review, Chiron Review, andContemporary American Voices, among others. Jim will see two of his collections go to print in 2012: Lead, then Gold(unbound content) and Elements of Course: Crafty Abstraction (MiTe Press)


Lucia Olga Ahrensdorf is sixteen years old. She enjoys fencing in sketchy warehouses and writing poetry while she procrastinates for physics labs.


Meredith Weiers graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and lives in southern Maryland.


Michael Dwayne Smith proudly owns and operates one of the English-speaking world’s most unusual names. He teaches at a community college, where campus police routinely ask for his photo I.D.  Despite the awful rumors, he wants you to know he writes poems and stories, as suggested by the appearance of said same at BLIP Magazine, Mosaic, Mojave, etc.  He lives in a small California desert town with his wife, son, and many rescued animals—all of whom talk in their sleep.


Richard Peabody is the founder and co-editor of Gargoyle Magazine and editor (or co-editor) of nineteen anthologies including Mondo Barbie, Conversations with Gore Vidal, and A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation. The author of a novella, two short story collections, and six poetry books, he is also a native Washingtonian. Peabody teaches fiction writing at Johns Hopkins University, where he has been presented both the Faculty Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement (2005) and the Award for Teaching Excellence: Master of Arts in Writing Program (2010-2011).


Ricky Davis is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College, where he studies poetry (with a special emphasis on prose poetry). His work appeared in the first issue of Prick of the Spindle in 2007. He lives in Brighton, Massachusetts with his wife and soon-to-be-born son.


Tess Joyce has recently squeezed a poem into the December issue of Anatomy and Etymology. In 2009 a collection of her poetry was published in Delhi, India; the book was a collaboration with an Indian writer.  She lives with her partner in Indonesia and in 2011 was the Communications Officer for Dr Galdikas, to write out about her orangutan rehabilitation centre.


William C. Blome is a writer of poetry and short fiction.  He beds down nightly in-between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is an MA graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Amarillo Bay, Prism International, Taj Mahal Review, Pure Francis, This, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.



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