the poetry that matters

Gene Wagendorf III

Gene Wagendorf III is a student from Chicago working with Write for a Change. His work has appeared in issues of Kill Poet, Word Riot, Vowel Movements, Robot Communism and O Sweet Flowery Roses.

Ctenocephalides Tumulosus Magnus


Bryn Mawr. Slapstick poverty.

Brittle cords of wicker baskets

Filled with crumbs.

Illiterate methadone dependence.

Icy menthol dependence.

Rotgut fermentation of old hopes

Drips across the street, dissolves

Slowly in the sunlight.

The sunlight piecing through El tracks

Adorning swimming dust particles with

Gutter halos.

The angels, they sing in torn plastic shopping bags.

They weep under broken soaking couches in dumpsters.

Self-imposed paralysis dependence.

Empty hand apology dependence.

The angels mutter to themselves and shake their heads.

They offer themselves in the stoops of closed flower shops.

Crushed ambition and idealistic bullshit do not strong fertilizers make.

Rolling stories all denouement.

Black teeth. Missing teeth.

The alleys littered with broken mirrors

That can’t reflect light no matter how high the sun.

Bryn Mawr, where wishes are in dog years

And even the fleas are starving.








Coffee swims nutty and chocolate as

Thin lace bubbles group together

To cope. Big. Desolate-brown.

Overwhelming. Celtric strong Genghis aggressive

Like a stocky wolverine, all muscles

And raw juices.

It is vast and renders perspective impossible.

One by one bubbles surrender- don’t

Pop so much as slow release

In somber moves conforming.

Coffee slings sips of tree bark

And maple but you’d never

Know from looking

The beauty diving in

The beauty drowning

The beauty swallowed.










spit outside April

always alone




puddles eeking across sidewalks

          landmines from God

fuck it

fuck you

fuck slipping up

fuck falling down

if it looks like rain and it smells like rain it’s shit


the stained-glass windows are cracking

the bugs are humming


                   goofballing in my face

black gums

bloody eye

a sandwich board of mediocrity

          April hanging saliva off lips

          sweet vermouth and bourbon

          r o l l i n g

                             down my chin

it’s too easy to fall

to fake it

to hear the church bells when you’re trying to go deaf

already walking blind

it’s too easy with knees creaking floorboards

          them trying to sneak back into the bedroom

where its warm and the mirrors cobwebbed forgotten

          stashed under concrete pillows

stale air nicotine sweat and grease fingerprints along the walls

          that can’t wash clean



April gets wet without washing anything away

          little filth rivers dead leaves candy wrappers

                   humidity clogs the throat

it’s too easy to choke in your sleep

to choke in your dreams

to suffocate while waking

          limp-dicked and

nothing changes








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