Jeanann Verlee


Jeanann Verlee is a poet, activist, and polka-dot wearer who collects tattoos and winks at boys. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The New York Quarterly, PANK, decomP, Lung, and “Not A Muse,” among others. Her first book of poetry will be published by Write Bloody Press in March 2010.


Four Poems (January 20, 2010. Issue 13.)

40 love letters

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Andre,
I saw you kiss her.
I haven’t looked back.

Dear Patrick,
You’re just too young.

Dear Eric,
I said horrible things about
Your teeth are fine,
it’s the rest of you I don’t

Dear Greg,
Thank you for the poem, for
every single scar.

Dear William,
I love you, simple.
I like that we will never be we.

Dear Jay,
The bruises fell off

Dear Michael,
I’ll never be enough to fill
the shoes
that will one day stand at
your side.

Dear Ben,
I did read your letters.
All of them.

Dear Freeman,
I’ll never stop looking over
my shoulder,
boots laced, ready to run.

Dear Jon,
I’ll always love you.
You are all there ever was.

Dear Derek,
There was no one thing,
your everything is

Dear Eddie,
We are refracting magnets.
We will battle this to the

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Ryan,
I love you, simple.
Sex under the streetlight was
a delicious accident.

Dear Kevin,
Your kiss came too late.
My lips were already dancing
in the other room with Jon.

Dear Ethan,

Dear Joseph,
I said you were too pretty.
They said to try it anyway.
They are fools.

Dear Avery,
You are the definition of unrequited.

Dear Skippy,
I’m sorry about the whiskey
and the tampon.
I’m sorry I never called you.

Dear Nate,
Until you mocked my smile, I
was yours.

Dear Marc,
I like your wife too much.
Is your brother still single?

Dear Mitch,
You were my biggest mistake.
I’m sure that only makes your
smile more sinister.

Dear Allen,
While you poured Guinness for
I pictured you bending me
over the bar.

Dear Graham,
I’d have swallowed that

Dear Miguel,
You said a man never forgets
his first redhead.
What color are my eyes?

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Francis,
I’d have broken you in half.

Dear Chris,
I’m sorry I stalked you.
I’d try to forget me, too.

Dear Dex,
I can’t be with you again.
Just accept it.

Dear Dr. Matthews,
I’ll have you fired.

Dear Aiden,
I wrote a poem about you.
It’s everyone’s favorite.
I find it trite.

Dear Logan,
I think I finally stopped
wanting you.

Dear Cynthia,
I was drunk.
I thought you were, too.

Dear Ricky,
Maybe it was the red dress
or because I was fifteen.
Your brother married my
on the same day I first
touched your cock.
Maybe you’re still a pervert.
Call me.

Dear Jeff,
I was your biggest mistake.

Dear Robert,
You are more than beer and
You are more than I could
ever put into a poem.

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Dennis,
I keep your photos in a box.
one, still in its frame.

mama's girl

When I asked about the first
bruised lip,

you lied. Said he kissed
you too hard.

I let that lie sit between us
like a centerpiece.

Like a plump steaming turkey
or shiny salted ham,

oozing its fat across the
platter and down our chins.

It sat for years. Rotting.
Drawing flies.

You and I politely seated on
opposing sides

of the dinner table, watching
the roaches swarm.

I never asked again. Used
birthday money

to buy a baseball bat. Kept
it under my bed,

practiced a speedy retrieval.

Our guns were useless against

He would’ve wrestled one from
my small hands

long before I could steady it
enough to fire.

(A baseball bat is an extra
two feet of bone.

It will take a wooden door
from its hinges

without alerting the

Will take a man’s leg, his

It does not require the calm
aim of injecting a bullet.

It will, however, make a man

just the same.)

When I was little, I had
nightmares about the empty

cement room in the basement.
Smaller than a closet,

no windows. Walls streaming
with brown water,

moss crawling across the

I filled that room with

Vomited all your rum into the
drain on the floor.

Crammed every gummy wad of
uneaten spinach

into the corners, every slap,
every night

you forgot to come home.

I even put that boy with the
funny name in there.

The one you took in for
dinner. I baked macaroni,

told you Geometry,
took him to the basement.

He cupped his hand over my
mouth, pressed me

against the wet rot of that
dungeon. We fucked like boars

while you watched Alex
Trebek, cursing the tinfoil

coiled around the TV antenna.

(A boy without a home, his
first day from prison,

will take any meal offered.
He will nod, smile.

He will have hands thick
enough for a throat.

Will leave burn marks. He
will kiss so hard,

you lie.)


Today, at 6:38 PM, a bundle
of pink balloons rose skyward
outside my 14th floor window
somewhere along 54th Street.

I thought for a moment it was
you, finally arrived. A dramatic
entrance. Tuxedoed, landing
on the ledge, pressing a smile
into the glass. Instead, a long
fray of red ribbon. Not even
a wrist, not a single finger.


78- the number of cows slaughtered every minute
in the U.S.

100- my score on every spelling test I’ve ever

4- the number of wedding rings my mother has

16,200- the amount of
money I’ve had to borrow from my father to pay your debt

115- my weight when I met you

245- your weight when you first purged a dinner

97- the number of times you told me I was fat

24- the number of beers you drank each day

136- my weight when you stopped touching me

135- the weight of your emaciated six foot frame

17- the number of times you refused to get help

21- the number of days since our divorce

76- the number of cows slaughtered since the
beginning of this poem