Phantom Shoelace & other poems

Phantom Shoelace

red wrinkled roof of my mouth
, bubble-wrapped baby below my heart

cushioned head, pearly papoose

                    and we
       —slick with sweat—
                    wet-knuckled and wet-knobbed

                     – wet-knocked knees in hallowed halls
                     – trembling in our sweaty socks
                     – phantom shoelace loose against my leg

                      ringing glass and cruelly bright moments. Give me instead

                      soft words
                      to hold
                      like a stack of teacups on a tightrope.


Sawdust Cereal

We eat sawdust cereal
on the beach in the
afternoon. I drink
my milk from the bowl
and you drink yours
in quiet spoonfuls.
The sun is bright but not warm
and the wind is so strong
that the sand stings
our ankles. We only brought
one towel and you give it
to me. My feet fall asleep
beneath me and I stretch out
my legs to see the tiny marks
the sand has left behind.


Water Bed

whispering exhale                                   brushing past my ribs
hanging from my heart                          head beneath its wing,

pink painted fingernails
            soft dirt and viscous strands                 bruised leaf
            plastic donut around my waist             my ribs grow soft and wet

earthworm on the pavement
            long and pale                                            buzzing static sky (does it
                                                            look like rain?)

         static limbs, aquamarine, floating halo of hair


The Grand Finale

You are always

giving each spare glance to me, 
giving way to the casual tumble

of my voice.

I am always

tucking words inside your ears,
sound waves bouncing

against the ridges of my fingertips.

Together we are 

fish on bicycles, joyously inelegant
and uncertain. 

We are
two clowns inside of a giant cake.

In the circus, the crowd waits
                                        —breath held—

for a beautiful girl to burst out, to dance for them 
on the back of an elephant. They don’t know 

they’ve only got us,
                                          we’ve only got us.

I wait for the ringmaster’s signal—

                                          inside of the cake, you take my hand.



Projected Letters is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the best new and established writing from around the world.


Magdalene Kennedy is an artist and writer originally from Nashville, Tennessee. She is currently teaching English in Miyazaki-shi, Japan. Her art and poetry can be found in The Marr’s Field Journal, The Voices Project, and Sheila-Na-Gig. For more of her work, please visit