note from editor

"Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Becca Thorne 

After a year-long hiatus, Phantom Kangaroo has resurrected for issue no. 18. The time away felt like a loud void, my universe flattened and I began to want it back the way fireworks stretch and wail for the stars. 

Featured in this issue are all the makings of an interstellar mystery — that is alien landings, some crushing fear, a dead spouse, a kidnapped girl and a Mojave ghost story. 

In the future, we will have Google Hangout readings of our issues. You can view them or potentially participate in them, by following Phantom Kangaroo's Google + —


— Claudia Lamar, January 2014


" … until the dirty teeth of night 

pierce my thoughts

and devour them

like tiny rabbits

spit out the soft fur

these few lines

and the crystal stars

of your eyes"

— "into the storm," Jean Brasseur 




Artist Bio: Becca Thorne is currently based in Leicester, UK, where she works from home in her spare room studio, creating hand printed pieces in linocut, screenprint and wood engraving. The above linocut was inspired by "Red Within" by Steve Taose.

you are really scared

infrared ash exhumed

supernatural beings crash

in the clouds when will

I get water tea-stained

tusks crushed to dust a leaf

zigzags grasping aerial

sea taps as it touches

stone the spirit of the tree

speaks you seek to leave

star beings behind





Cindy Rinne creates art and writes in San Bernardino, CA. She is a founding member of PoetrIE, an Inland Empire based literary community. Her work appeared or is forthcoming in Lyre, Lyre, Cactus Heart Press, The Wayfarer, Twelve Winters Press, The Lake, Revolution House, Soundings Review, East Jasmine Review, Linden Ave. Literary Journal, The Gap Toothed Madness, and others. She has a poetry manuscript, The Feather Ladder and has written and illustrated a chapbook called, Rootlessness.


into the storm

calypso, calliope, canopy

the words stick in my head

like elevator sex

and your eyes of glass

I don’t want to be a bitch

but I wish

you would all leave me alone

to drive fast

into the fog

Unforgiven playing loud

to wet pavement


until the dirty teeth of night

pierce my thoughts

and devour them

like tiny rabbits

spit out the soft fur

these few lines

and the crystal stars

of your eyes





Jean Brasseur believes that poets and artists should be compensated handsomely for their work while politicians should work for free. That said, she continues to write anyway, content to be rewarded simply with fame and power. This will be the second time her work has appeared in Phantom Kangaroo as well as other publications.


Postmortem Cohabitation

Sharing a bathroom with your dead fiancée

is never easy, especially with her

shaving cream and razor still sunbathing

on the mildewed shower sill,

rusting late into the Florida afternoons.


Plus, she paces through all the mirrors relentless,

wearing that diaphanous summer dress, you know, the one

you loved best, the one you buried her in beneath

the dunes; and she’s always asking the same silly question,

holding up two silver hoops: does this match?


At dusk, more traces: her eyes, whistling

sawgrass, hair like braided bran,

her laugh a champagne cork,

and perfect alabaster teeth

suspended midair.


You quiver as she broods in the corner

still trying to decide what to wear

even though her wardrobe is scattered

across Goodwills in five counties and none

of the precious scraps you’ve kept complement her stilettos.


How long do these echoes last? It’s been one month

since the world ended for you both,

the hottest day on record (the bees are still gossiping

about it along the brittle grass) and though she tries

she cannot drink from the tap

which spouts only cheap wine and unfortunate rumors

such as these.





Originally from western Pennsylvania, Francis X. Altomare currently haunts various pubs between Galway, Ireland and South Florida. He was recently awarded the Oblongata Prize by the Medulla Review for his “City of Lost Things,” and his fiction and essays have appeared in various publications, mostly for earthling audiences. When not treating his chronic bibliophilia and avoiding direct sunlight, he teaches Theory, as well as a DIY course on how to take over the world, in South Florida.

The Mad Hatter


I have spoken often of his eyes. Gravel-blind,

he forced blood in his eyes, muttering

prophecy: ostrich, toothpaste, Turkish,

toast and teakettles. Flapdoodle! We're all mad here.

My body is a cabinet full of caterpillars. Leaves

are sprouting in my hair, buds blooming

through my eyes and throat. Haloed, I am hidden.

Each step feels like its own miracle, but white

eludes us like time, a melted pocket watch. He was

vulnerose, tuberose, many bone flowers shining

in the moonlight, metacarpals shimmer. Death

he saw as always being beautiful, love like

a burning tire under the cracked, grey sky.

As a child he was given a wounded bat, spirited

it away to his hiding places. Next morning, it lay

half dead, covered with frenzied ants. Overcome,

he bit into the writhing mass, decapitation

the highest honor. I always enjoy

when the dead talk.




Jeannine Geise is the rare, contented high school English teacher.  She graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing this past summer from Ashland University, and currently resides near Dayton, Ohio with her handsome husband, Colin; her impressive collection of X-Men comic books; and her two cats, Socrates and Kittah.  (Notice the impressive use of semicolons!)  To read more about Jeannine and her work, visit her at:


Murder Poem

Every boy I meet could be you, killer.
I’ve known since age five. I dreamt corpses
hanging from the red maple in the yard.
You put something in the trunk. It was me.

I’ll be Janet Leigh and you can wear a wig.
I will be all chocolate syrup creeping
down the drain for you. This is how it goes:
I am showering. “Don’t,” I scream. Or else

I wake to your breath on my throat. Or you’ve
been fighting with your mother. You sever
my head, use my mouth like a Real-Girl doll.
They find my fingernails and nothing else.

Your knife presses against my stomach, taut
on the spot where my boyfriend used to come.

Kristin Maffei is a poet and copywriter living in New York City. She was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Oxford, and holds an MFA from New York University where she was a Goldwater Fellow in Poetry and co-curator of the NYU Emerging Writers Series at KGB Bar. She is a copywriter at Oxford University Press and co-founder of the collaborative literary ‘zine Call & Response.

Wild Magic


We were hot pants,

hip huggers, purple velvet

“Smoke on the Water and Fire in the Sky”


We were truants changing into jeans and cropped t-shirts

in the copse of dogwoods in Mort Jacobs Park

slathering on Coppertone making our way


thumbs out to Northwest Plaza in the heat in the humidity

to splash in fountains push strange boys to the brink

their scent Gandalf and Aragorn and Ent


We were junior high, we could have said no:

babies, drinking, drugs; we could have all gone on to high school,

our counselors advising us on colleges, SATs,


student loans, someone somewhere could have

commented, shown us a way out of our bruises,

broken psyches, bad choices


Instead of light grey Mourning Doves our soft calls laments

we could have all become Fire-tufted Barbets our striking

plumage green with bits of red, blue and yellow


our voices the spirited song of cicadas




Laura LeHew is the author of a full-length book of poems, two chapbooks, numerous articles and with poems in Anobium, American Society: What Poet’s See, Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, Eleven Eleven, PANK and Phantom Kangaroo among others. She is on the steering committee for the Lane Literary Guild and is an active volunteer for the Oregon Poetry Association having held a variety of positions including President and Contest Chair. Laura interned for, and is a former board member, of CALYX Press. She received her MFA from the California College of Arts. She writes, edits her small press Uttered Chaos and sharpens her claws in Eugene, Oregon.

Off the Sill

Walking out into the night

and November rain, the windows

on Admiral Park are dark, except one

with its steamy blue light on–


There's a thin man caught

behind the shade.  He leans back

and forth– you can feel

his scrubbing with soap and rag–

see his leaving, the ghost





M. J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario.  Her most recent poems have appeared in Poetry East, The Chariton Review, Tar River Poetry, Blueline, The Prose Poem Project, and The Centrifugal Eye, among other publications.  Her most recent poetry chapbook is As the Crow Flies (Foothills Publishing, 2008), and her second full-length collection is Within Reach (Cherry Grove Collections, 2010).  Between Worlds, a prose chapbook, was published by Foothills Publishing in May 2013.  She is Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor program at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.

Despot, Lust and Sorrow

But what I really want is a hat

with enormous black brims

so I can walk in the city of phantoms

and hit everyone on the shoulder

or in the face, depending on height




Marina Rubin's first chapbook Ode to Hotels came out in 2002, followed by Once in  2004 and Logic in 2007. Her work had appeared in hundreds of magazines including 13th Warrior Review,  Asheville Poetry Review, Dos Passos Review,  5AM, Nano Fiction, Coal  City, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Jewish Currents, Lillith, Pearl, Poet Lore, Skidrow Penthouse, The Portland Review, The Worcester Review and many more. She  is an associate editor of Mudfish. She has been nominated for the Pushcart. She lives in New York where she works as a headhunter on Wall Street while writing her fourth book, a collection of flash fiction stories.


when we can no longer pass

for Living, let’s disguise ourselves

as ghosts, steal the still warm


wedding sheets veil our pink skins

with white linen. ignore the floral

print, the wayward threads.


let people wonder

at the wisps and cusps of our

whispered conversations;



avenge me



let’s lead children astray

down wishing wells, wail

with widows on Wednesdays, cross those


burnt bridges to the attics of our once

well-meaning friends. make our way

to their torch-lit porches, wave at them


the words of Aaron, with one quick

edit: Let not your sorrow die, though

I am not dead.




Mary Elzabeth Lee lives in Red Lion, PA. She attends Penn State York where she is the co-editor of Any Other Word. Her poems have appeared in Parody Magazine, The Golden Key, and Bellow Magazine.

For lack of an open window high above the lane

She came home with a present of matching mopeds—

What an interesting way for me to commit suicide, he said,

And once when she posted their photograph on his page,

She tagged it: He’s creepy, but I’m the cutie.

She had this way of weaving stretch marks across his brow.

At night after the music is put away, after the dinner plates

Are piled into the sink, after the pots are left to soak,

They lay in bed together, she reading the full account

Of Mandelstrom throwing himself away because he had to.

She does not know he has already recorded it,

It and the words aura, animosity, abyss, anthrax.

When she curls away from him because she has to, he kisses

The back of her neck, pulls his hands to himself

And whispers, “Sweet dreams, my Nadezhda,”

Every activity, every encounter another attempt at suicide.




Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam(2011). Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others. 

Roswell Observatory

After searching
out some castle off the Carolina


and finding it, 

and finding that the world, after

           all, isn’t as small as a turquoise

                       army winking

at Lon Chaney as the wolf
bane blooms

for the very last time, in
love, or at

the very least, on fire.

After all this,
we come home to


to find the old house up for sale,

                       and the right-hand-man

           to the stars already forgetting

our secret names. Hiroshima, we come home

to Alcatraz, and Emily sleeps, David
too exhausted to save her

tonight, and the world asleep, and the world the same, when

something stirs in the dark.




Michael Keenan received his MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. His first chapbook, “Two Girls,” was published by Say No Press in 2009, and his first book, "Translations On Waking In An Italian Cemetery," will be released by A-Minor Press in 2014. His writing has appeared in Fence, Alice Blue Review, Shampoo, Paul Revere’s Horse, and Arsenic Lobster, among others, and is forthcoming in Poetry International.

Mojave Ghost Story

How often I’ve heard it whistling through canyons.
A name, like a cowboy lost among dead stars.
I know the apparition I’m supposed to see in this:
ghost rider, violet silhouette in a pale desert moon.
I get a feeling that spills out of the clouds, like
mourner’s breath, but a little less air, a lot more Zen.
Men die in thin atmosphere.  Squint into cottonwood
strung with corpses like shirts on a line.  Squat
on the edge of the Great Cliff.  Before looking down,
a glance over the shoulder at the wide plain, continent
of femur and skull and useless blood.  Little rivers
running backward in time, boatloads of confused eyes
searching for clay on the banks, for shape, for home
in a country of midnight.  Every one of them claims to
feel a hand hover above—reaching for a soul or for
a holster, none can say.  The ghost rider turns away
to peer down, down deep into coyote’s eye.  Angels
and wings don’t mean much out here.  It’s cool water,
dry boots, the musculature of backs and the guitar of
a woman’s body, music wading up from matted fur
into fire, ash strumming into thin atmosphere
where the slight light of early dawn wets the wick
of one dead star at a time.  Ghosts go to bed alone,
palms cradling a language never spoken,
scrambling up dream ladders to a dry lake moon
where love is lost in the desert of white, and a violet
cowboy falls like a Buddha on the peak of his knife.




Michael Dwayne Smith's most recent collection, "What the Weather's Like, Only Stranger", arrives spring 2014 from Emerge/ELJ Publications. Post-hippie professor, editor in chief at Mojave River Press & Review, he's been awarded both the Hinderaker Prize for poetry and the Polonsky Prize for fiction. His work appears in excellent journals like burntdistrict, Word Riot, Stone Highway Review, decomP, >kill author, and the Cortland Review. He lives near a ghost town in the Mojave Desert with his wife and rescued animals.

Night Breaks

my fingers lose feeling

as I stare at the white

glow and wish I were



wish I could write to you

in night, in dark ink

on a napkin smudged

with lipstick


play out a future

of Hollywood and pipe dream

or nightmare

pipe bomb

accidental pregnancy

black eye, broken heart

listening to you piss

in the bathroom

curse your name


it’s best

you hitchhike south

I drive north

fall in love

with the slow drawl

of your words

never curse you

hate the day

you came bloodied into

the world




but I am not Bukowski

and I’d rather know

for sure

the no in my throat

then guess

be suspended in maybe


I dream in black and white

lately, and reflections appear

where they do not belong

but I saw color in you

that daunting cold blue

dark and bright at once

the need to hold it

again, shake it loose

anaconda myself around you

or you around me


we’ll take all the books

to bed with us


grow limbs made of paper

strike a match

and burn burn burn


until night breaks

and falls from the sky.





Molly Kat is currently living in an intentional community in the mountains of North Carolina.  She likes to grow her own food, challenge her mind, dissect words, and propagate madness.  She is obsessed with the idea of viewing collapse in a deconstructed way so that its positive potential can be realized and implemented.  Molly gives really great hugs and likes to spend her time working with children.  She has been published in print and online, and writes for the popular blog