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The Houston Literary Review
Spring 2007 Poetry Issue II 
We are happy to present the work of Texans Christopher Woods & Jeff Crouch as well as the works of James Whitley, Eddie Kilowatt and Pete Lee.



Illustration & Poem by Christopher Woods & Jeff Crouch



Poetry of James Whitley 


James Whitley’s work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications, including Barrelhouse, Can We Have Our Ball Back?, elimae, Gargoyle, Mississippi Review, The Oklahoma Review, Pebble Lake Review, Poetry Southeast, the strange fruit, and Texas Poetry Journal.  My first book Immersion won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award.  My second collection This Is the Red Door won the Ironweed Press Poetry Prize and will be published in 2007.  He is also the author of two poetry chapbooks: Piet and The Golden Web.




Every Day of Every Year


It’s Not Unlike the Sea


When a cell screams


no one hears it, which,


although it may reek of


deception, might be


an indication that we were


meant to be spared from


the full drama of the body’s


inevitable mutinies.


We are shown so few


mercies in our lives, it seems


only appropriate to acknowledge them


where we can.


Still, truth reigns supreme in


the dark halls of our bodies—


these little engines of grief,


these fading ledgers


of experience—


where some ritual is always


ending and another is


always beginning


to the muted cannon fire


of balloons rupturing


all along the cavern walls,


corks bursting in the


recesses of our sacred




James Whitley


Another wreckage,


another crippling


sadness, another elegy.


Another lost


something or other—


cent, sock, soul.


Another something


slips through a sieve


ruining a recipe.


And every hour


of every day,


another shadow


of another cortege,


another pair of


tightly clasped hands.


Another sharp word


slices clean through


another unwary heart.


Another wind whistles


through another


hollowed-out space.


And every second


of every minute,


another crushed shell,


another clipped wing,


another bird


plummeting abruptly.


Another life


leaves behind


its debris, its residue,


faith limps


away from yet


another devastation.


James Whitley


Several rumors about it are indeed true:


its seductive undulation, its brackish greens


and lambent blues, its penchant for depth.


And yet, despite what you might infer


from its avatars of steam and ice,


it is content to be what it is.


And I’m not talking about water here,


but love—the murky bottom of it,


the inviting waves seen by those not yet


immersed, how even the most buoyant can


drown in it, the surface then calming again,


healing, leaving no telltale scars behind.


James Whitley


The Goddess of the Tainted Garden



The Goddess of the Everlasting Otherness




Lessons learned from the war:


they only keep shooting


if you insist on moving.


So lie still, shut up and


let the enemy pass.


It’s possible to survive the jungle if they leave some life in you.


Dear departed deity:


maybe you were presented


as a lesson yourself,


to teach us that, despite


its sun showers and perky


daffodils, the world is


also the place of rotting


apricots and venomous


snakes just waiting in tall


grasses, of voracious fires


and black widow spiders


devouring their lovers


at the height of passion.


The world is everything


everyone can ever know,


everything we trust


or fear—the aberrant cell


stretching its first tentacle


into the unexplored cavern


of the body, the mother


animal abandoning her


dependent newborn in


the wild, the father beast


killing his offspring for


reasons we may never


fully comprehend.


James Whitley


Out of respect or duty,


the cast members


stream in like small


pebbles forced onward


by a gush of water.


 Though unsure of their


lines, they immediately


take to their assigned roles:


the bereft mother,


the weary-eyed father,


the surprise cameos made


by siblings and various


smoking buddies,


the empty seats where


the wounded sons would be.


They have come to say


their bon voyages as you


travel to your enviable


destination, as you sashay


through the pearled fence.


And they’re suspicious


of the smile spreading across


my face like a mysterious


syrup, but I view heaven


as a different promise than


they do—no gold brick


streets, no pass harp music,


no robes covering up all


of that glorious nakedness.


I like to think that all passed


souls are finally allowed


to experience pleasure


unscripted and that they’re


all partying on some


archipelago of boundless rapture—


an impossibly large disco ball

where the sun used to be,


a never-ending supply of


the most scrumptious


hors d’oeuvres falling


into every joyous mouth,


cream sherry and creamier


milkshakes flowing as freely


as prayer, the music beating


fiercely like the spent hearts


they’ve all left behind.


James Whitley



Poetry of Eddie Kilowatt
 Eddie Kilowatt is a sometimes wanderer who calls Milwaukee, WI home. After releasing his first collection of poetry, Manifest Density, in spring 2006 he began a project of riding a motorcycle across the U.S. with a digital voice recorder attached to a microphone in his helmet, taking pictures and providing a real-time stream of consciousness view of the country. His work has been accepted to Thunder Sandwich, remark., Word Riot, Ugly Accent, Thieves Jargon, LauraHird.com and My Favorite Bullet among other places. He is currently compiling his next collection of poetry, Carrying a Knife into the Gunfight.







Well put, Tony


The Youth in Asia




at a restaurant


no one seated


at the tables


no one at the bar


quiet music ignorable


I lean my elbow


and hip


against the counter


while I get paid


$8 an hour


bathed in the sun of large


southern facing windows


to read this book





it's guys like us


that sleep


with women


married to


guys like







sometimes I wonder


with all these things


I do


if I am actually


some pet animal


that keeps


going off




under the kitchen table


or in the garden


ensuring the ability


to die












Art work by Sina Ann Millikin

Poetry of Pete Lee


Pete Lee lives with his wife in Ridgecrest, California, where he works as an independent bookseller. His poetry has most recently appeared in the online journals Antithesis Common, Alba, The 13th Warrior Review, Shampoo, Bolts of Silk, and The Rose & Thorn.





A Gift of Modern Art


Would someone please send...


Elegy For My Earning Power


Like a book to a blind man,


it looks just fine upside down.


It looks even better sideways.


And right side up? Well,


I don't know art, but...


I don't know art, but...


And right side up? Well,


it looks even better sideways.


It looks just fine upside down, like a book to a blind man.





me a list of names and


contact information of any


or all of those people,


whoever they are, who are


actually motivated to buy


a new SUV or luxury car


by a celebrity's voice,


or a paraphrased pop song,


or an imaginary image of


themselves behind the wheel


amidst mountains or


ahead of slower and/or


smaller cars containing


their social inferiors,


or by a silicone-


breasted, collagen-


lipped college girl? or


at least of those who


confuse cigarettes with


penises? I know they're


out there somewhere,


because I, too, listen


to the radio and read


entertainment magazines


and watch TV, and I


just want to offer them


a deal on some really sexy,




extremely fashionable,











Looking down


the business


end of the arts,


I shot myself


in the (variable)




My aim was poor: