The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®



[Looking for My Killer]

 --Thylias Moss



—decadent, malicious little vignettes

—as delectable as string cheese, refreshingly irreverent as you digest it, perhaps also blissfully irrelevant

—pure indulgent naughtiness

—splendid, if only for the wickedness

—ghastly!  bereft of redeeming values; mocks our most esteemed institutions, even life itself

—written by the light of hellfire; dazzling

—confuses perversion with profundity —as we all are prone to do

—lavish disrespect at a time when wealth has never been more respected

—unmasked, untamed delusion; it’s about time the gloves came off, and with them all those garments that get in the way of fresh start


—touches base with the base

—I take back everything I ever said against the esoteric, including how I’d never use that word

—magnificent paranoia and obsession that any therapist should be reluctant to cure

—transcends the normal concerns about reputation

—Like falling in love with a machine gun , the secrets of the repetitive action of commitment

—a rolling stone gathers no moss, so ________ loosens all the stones, and sets them in motion to come clean

—brilliant fiction about truth so tragic and despicable, the beauty of it would have to be suppressed

—what an undertaking from an underrepresented point of view —look who’s talking up a violent storm now; you are hereby warned to take the cover of this book, open it, and hold on





A love-story; he loves how he kills me with love withheld, and I love it too.  Evolution of love to this..... Deadly aptitude --we're good at this... The best.  He kills me so well, and I am killed so well... Absolute perfection.... I'm so in love...Doing my part for my sisters, natural-born sisters or not; however we become sisters, we remain sisters.  I cannot be killed too much, and I return to be killed again and again.  True, dedicated love! --the best love ever; saving my sisters. SMS.


In tribute to St. Maria Goretti, an eleven-year-old martyr to chastity, on 5 July 1902 rather than allow Alessandro to rape her! --I learned from her example.  Thanks Maria who showed shows me the way.


Thylias Moss

absolute alleys of hardcore opportunity

the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious
[A. Einstein: The World as I See It]


+ I feel like a cannibal as I tug at a bagel with my teeth outside Ludlow’s Smoker’s Palace where I bought it, singular because it’s my own, because this must be the best way to toothwrestle with raw muscle, this of all the things I could think when I know that I am my killer’s target, --here I am, Hector, come and get me, baby!-- when the muscle itself convinces, wait and see, not many can take exception, target that I am, singular, I gnaw bagel while availability for assault gnaws on me – this – if my killer gnaws on me this way before or after the fatal stab, there’ll be an answer, when he owns the killing, there’s every reason to assume some of his teeth hook back – uneven edged, genetic ridge malformation – just like this – so that he rips, his rip-bite is more complex, exceeds most human mouths, singular signature, just ask a forensic dentist – verify this – I’m pretty sure my assailant is rare, jackpot, just one of all possible assailants designates himself for me (thanks, Hector, greater love has no man than this)– in the boutique window next door to Ludlow’s I see myself gnawing on the bagel – this – tough, but I’m undeterred, the bagel seems to replace my chin on the flat surface that gives back what it can –this too– low level singularity, amazingly, depth is easily compressed, crackpot, my reflection is between some mannequins --tines-- whose faces have no well-defined features – the more universal, the more bland, the shoe fits, reliable molds, images of mountains on the moon, accessories, before there was good resolution – not that Galileo was deceived, mannequins and saints or saints from some factories, they have solid alternatives to mouths and noses: sources of many problems and solutions, uninterrupted plaster of Paris, flawless skin for which they have no optical capacity, senseless, they’ve been diminished, subtracted from, not because of amputation from accident, or saving life, or preference not to have a limb, rejection of bothersome appendage, it happens, so will this, my murder if my killer becomes a killer, diminished to approach the universal, to cost less, the mannequins are subhuman, yet wear clothes better than I do, who’s the dummy, who’s perfect, removable heads, when they come out of the mold, there’s a chance for globes as smooth as I like to imagine all legs, as hairless as I like to imagine all armpits, the smooth necessity, mandatory electrolysis in order to appeal to a man who has a good way to deal with his obsession, pretty young things more hairless than a hairless dog, just to look at me at Ludlow’s you’d never know, would never guess the status of my private hair, unshaken confidence, with him too because I’m shaven, like a cracked egg, but we broke up, crackpot, now it’s my killer or no man, a real need for dedication, I can’t cheat my death – in some cases, rare, it can’t be nicely-kinky acquired-got-to-have-no-hair-on-a-lover or no touching, because absolute hypotrichosis sets in: medical condition present at birth – jumpstart – waiting for a trigger, maybe environmental, maybe hormonal, maybe the moment the effects of womb-immunity-protection wear off, something, when the hypoK kicks up, hair growth stops, hair falls out, wasted land, death’s smooth dream kingdom, jackpot, we are the bald men, we are the bald sisters, we are the hairless toddlers, we have completely inactive or absent hair follicles from which nothing erupts except pathological statistics, not quite total body baldness, not quite, very, very rare to be born with the whole ball of completely bald wax, called alopecia universalis, not even eye brows and lashes, complete absence of fiber, but the standard mannequin is that way right out the mold, the way those who make them, make them, the expectation except special orders for a model with signs of puberty, it can be done, has been done, will be done, on earth, in heavens on earth, hand-attached mohair, or cashmere, didn’t start with me, the possible still needs to be milked, you get what you pay for, fiber by fiber, it’ll cost you, otherwise: pure solid milk mannequins, never ever weaned, totally consistent, just like this, I read that the Chinese crested hairless dog is more genetically balanced, one gene for hair, one gene for hairlessness as two of those would be fatal, you know how it is, a formula, for pabulum and for TNT, no perfectly matched pairs, one litter often gets you both, one with more hair, one with less hair, the only way to get the one you want is the gamble, deal with it, the possible still needs to be milked, one litter often produces the Chinese crested and the full-hair powder-puff, eternal struggle for dominance and submission, shared custody of dispensation of hair, yes, the fancy way to say this, only those with the genetic invitation, the possible still needs to be milked, when the two of us, me and my killer, peach and bald nectarine, nut cases, get together, only one survives, this is the arrangement, unless he kills, he is no killer, and then I walk the long way home in the dark for nothing, forget this, Ludlow’s the only thing on the storefront that glows at this hour, blacked out Palace is not palatial while I’m pursued, while I’m the possible milk, his attention is not on any other woman, all other women are spared his advances, it’s as if I command him, the Chinese crested doesn’t bark much, I’m killed in peace, the dog loses many of its teeth, usually the canines, I die with mine intact, we each have distinctive bite marks, mine in bagel, milk deep, I don’t bite into a Chinese Crested with history where so many say history started, in Africa, milk darkest, the origin so best chance of simple root, milk darkest, superlative of undeveloped form from which complexity branched off needing somewhere to go, here, this, now, restless: I walk, four hairless breeds in America, some highly prized, I favor the Peruvian Inca Orchid, especially after my most prodigious shaving, my arms and legs clean as my head, good girl, my razor is a little toro, pup toro, it grazes, an Inca Orchid Club is on a street called Jubilee, honest-to-God, milk it, the only way to say exactly what I mean, the best place, some claim the Aztecs ate their hairless dogs, how do they know, except that hairless dogs are surely edible, I am too, perhaps more tender than most bagels, the possible still needs to be milked, it would be convenient not to have to pluck a chicken, someone please breed them featherless before I die, for reward, just for this, milk, lollipop life dropped in shag carpet and sucked anyway, that covers the love of fuzz, fetish, this, suck-beard sustenance isn’t good for much, but the bald-as-a-moonflower dog sheds nothing, a pleasure to have around, what would a flea want there, take fleas away and more, keep taking, milk this, the last thing subtracted from will be essential unless it starves, I know I won’t, I’ll be dead before the chance, first hunger pinches, learns its craft, then can strike hard, to the max, to the death, I picture myself cannibalizing a man and being murdered by a man while I look at mannequins and wonder about the price of the dress and whether it will look right on me who is size six here, size eight there, wider-hipped for a reason, this milk, the love of saddles can be the love of being supported by one, the driver’s seat, can also be the love of supporting one, being driven to this =


Thylias Moss

yes Melvie, my killer comes to Inaccessible Island with apologies & cigarettes

throughout all our efforts, in every dramatic struggle
between old and new views, we recognize the eternal longing for understanding,
the ever-firm belief in the harmony of our world, continually strengthened
by the increasing obstacles to comprehension.
[A. Einstein & Leopold Infeld: The Evolution of Physics]


+ My killer comes to me, a pitiful coming, Ludlow’s Smoker’s Palace is not a tent, he may as well have wings, a script translated only with apologies, defenses, no longer am I enamored with lifting, humanity a bullet, a slant, upwards tilt in trajectory charts, blasted hope, compensation of aim, above my head, high heaven, but out of the gate, out of the barrel, perfect descent commences, a rise of misconception, a bullet through me centerline, crown to laying a hollow point petaled egg, perfect cleavage, knick knack paddywhack, your welcome bones, he clears his throat, lighthouse, foghorn, bottle neck, club soda, effervescent entourage of shrunken see-through fireflies, esophageal, tracheate, every breath they mate, cosmic cycles in his neck, clustering universes, illuminated alphabets, a long time coming, may as well be spiked with acupuncture needles not meant to be removed, his cutting edge corona, his aura, sword blade tip reductions, his permanency is aberrant, any permanence, I’m the sitting duck, stuffed with sword blade tip reductions, ping-pong universe, bang, crunch, squeeze, echo, 57 known varieties, 31 tasted flavors of booyah existence, time and again, boiled down to me and my killer, stew, bouillabaisse, (Mr. Goudas’) callaloo, green rags, leafy rags, the falls of St. Mary’s River, the soo, the soo, in Sault Sainte Marie, whistling telephone wires, juniper breeze soy candles, healthy and harmonious living in Tang Soo Do, he comes to me, belts, tethers, lassos, lashed together, Joan also had a stake in holding and being held, atmosphere banked in gravity, universal gravy, ultra, infra, extra, hold me, Tang Soo Do, coolness in a breeze is anesthetic, o honey, do it, my gooseflesh rises for milking, a thousand nipples, sweet rows, his sadistic intimacy that I expected, but too transparent, nothing’s inside that I can’t see, for the love of god, in the name of love, stop, go, dance, Tang Soo Do, erratic fishbones, crisscross, look out now, look in, hive tiles, hexagonal prisms skin, crystals pour out of his pores, sweet sweat, sweet breeze, hexagonal framework of all natural snow and ice on earth, for real, not all is natural, for real unnatural, since 1979, every number larger than 1791 as a sum of four hexagonal numbers, kill-points, bifurcation locations, Legendre and honeycombs, six-sided scutes on a turtle’s carapace, sexy, sexy, basalt columns from Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, oh those shoulders, power-pushy, pushy, powwow framework, now drape feathers, now further the legacy of flightless birds, Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck, o for the love of Malvinas, whoop-dee-do, toowee, toowee, my cousin Melvie warned me about this, microraptor song about rapture, semi-griffin, hello, is this ginger, is this higher harmonics of horseradish, vibrating sap, feast of the epiphany Krewe, tribe, mandrake’s earned turn, hello, the cigars pop, dried up cocoons, flying ash I cannot magnify, cannot locate complexity for all the beautiful symmetry, some delightfully nasty, feast of lights, hello, Gerarde: Master of the Company of Barber-Surgeons, superintendent of the gardens of William Cecil, 1636, hello, male and female mandrake, root of all Adams, all Eves, Vegas show-stopper showgirl, knocks socks off, breath out, sanctification of waters, what would Melvie do, Inaccessible island was accessed in 1652 by t'Nachtglas, Dutch ship, his tongue pops, each particle is part of an alphabet, they freckle me, I rub them, swooshes, whorls, only commas, colons, separators, emphasis, blurs, he has social security, he has ways of extracting blowtorches from his flat pockets, he keeps them away from proof, he keeps them away from examination, so close now, I can taste, touch, feel, Inaccessible’s yeast farm failed, Inaccessible’s possum farm failed, the road curls up behind him, a key coils inside a tin can lid, sharp edged bed, lay down, Tang Soo Do, he trails mechanical monkey swirled tail, my fingers slide into a slot on his back, up to my elbows, easy, easy, Tang Soo Do, till he is my armor, he is my chariot, rickshaw, barbed wire veins, bow tie arteries, clogged with gifts, the coffee is sludge, milagros gruesos, the jam is spread everywhere, and there is no everything no everywhere in which bread has no part, sorry it took me so long, for the love of the Tristan da Cunha Conservation Ordinance (in place as of 1976), the salvation of Inaccessible, I don’t want him, kill joy, the missionaries go there, spoiler, la fantasia es meurta, its grand executions weigh in como brazos del apocalypse, dream killer, ai, ai, ai, in the Vulgate enterprise, Vulgate inceptum, kill joy, sorry it took me so long, we open the cigarettes like fish bellies, yes, yes, affinity for guts, but no, as if we get to work after examples of looting, no clairvoyant mentions interiors, the white wrappers have been camouflage, preferences for swans, domestication of idea, how briefly ideas balance on lips and burn away, the fire is small, personal, a company in China makes cigarettes shaped like fingers, it is becoming popular to smoke a hand, to wrap five finger cigarettes in a white paper glove, happy anniversary, I’d know you anywhere, the hand is small, child’s hand, protruding from mouths, escape route, climbing out of a tunnel, finger food, paternal reckoning, wait here, he rolls down a hill he’d already descended (some heft, and it’s magnificent mountain, all about summit), to my feet, thinner and thinner cylinder, white coating, personalized cigarette too big for me to lift, on the ground with it, so yes, we lay down together, will it happen now, will you slit my throat while I sleep, my cigar throat, his cigarette throat, is this what you really want, will this really make you happy = greater love has no man than this


Thylias Moss

iron maiden possibilities; also silo in the time of scurvy

the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.
[A. Einstein: The World as I See It]


+ Way back in the time of scurvy, explorers got to explore scurvy, and didn’t mean to, fringe benefit, came with the territory, I’m packaged with Ludlow’s Smoker's Palace, this is just the perfect ordinary habitat for murder, business as usual district, convenience killing, alley right beside Ludlow’s, packaged with it, packed with dumpsters, Ludlow’s back and delivery door, my murder is packaged with me, sandwich, monkey in the middle, me, way back when you had to deal with monarchs, when it was King Scurvy, Magellan lost eighty percent of his crew without losing sight of the Pacific, it remains something worth looking at, here I am, here it is, in the time of scurvy, Vasco da Gama lost two thirds of those voyaging with him to India, more than they bargained for, during raids on Spanish shipping, in the time of scurvy, the chaplain Richard Walter made the ravages of scurvy vivid for those who had to rely on words to see anything of it, it is not to be missed, dig in, other than the real thing of my murder, I love the vicarious, voraciously reading what Chaplain Walter wrote down: skin black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, rictus of the limbs, teeth falling out and, perhaps most revolting of all, a strange plethora of gum tissue sprouting out of the mouth, which immediately rotted and lent the victim's breath an abominable odour,1 the senses could not be controlled any better than the senses of the man who will kill me can be controlled when he sees me outside Ludlow’s, when he smells my pheromones, when he hears my footsteps, Geiger counter off the charts, frenzy of pops, but scurvy’s lack of sensual control was much better in the old days, I’m glad it happened so that these effects could be recorded, without them, I wouldn’t know enough about grandeur to be convinced, the ability to feel everything, for the brain to censor nothing, that’s what I need, what I have to imagine until my killer pulls it off, the feeling of unbearable richness of emotion, unbearable weight of poetry, so refreshing to know it happened, When sufferers got hold of the fruit they had been craving they swallowed it – said Walter – ‘with emotions of the most voluptuous luxury’. The sound of a gunshot was enough to kill a man in the last stages of scurvy, while the smell of blossoms from the shore could cause him to cryout in agony.2 to die from intensity of bliss from its expansion, more than the body was madefor, so heart explodes, brain, liver, spleen, everything internal ruptures, so bliss can expand beyond limits of organs, not much of it can fit in the appendix, less bliss fits than misery, which is also more than the body was made for, morereduction than the body was made for, systematic, one by one each cell becomes miserable, seems possible to live with, daily aging, so many believe that more isn’t going to be put on the body than the body can bear, measure for measure, gradual adjustment, massacre for massacre, but excess takes a toll, sum of accumulation, plus 1, plus 1, room for one more, one day a miserable straw, network of miserable gears making more misery, buildup, overload, misery replaces everything else, so the body doesn’t need more room, in fact there is excess space, a life full of misery can feel empty, a life full of misery isn’t full of life, obviously stuck in consistency, form of a rut of bliss for those who die with the bloodstream continuously delivering high goods, stuck in commitment, remember when Biafra was stuck being Biafra – which Biafra – do you know any Biafras – how many Biafras are there – how many Biafras mean excess – how much scurvy remains, even American slaves from time to time had oranges, depending on circumstances within their circumstances, sacks of oranges under a quilt sometimes let you get away on Sunday, Monday before the quilt was peeled back and there you were all citrus, not like that all the time, not excessive, not like what happened to the Ibo, only the Nigerian army openly liked what happened to the Ibo, the resulting ecstatic soldiers, civil war heroes glistening like their Kalashnikovs, what extension of an invention, scurvyesque, Biafra the rock star was born in Boulder, Colorado six blocks from where JonBenet Ramsey was murdered, it says so at the alternative tentacles website, the whole Biafra biography page reads like poetry, stuck in what it is, it must have been written in the time of scurvy, long live Jello Biafra, a child born in Biafra did not live long in 1970, but the Igbo ruled the Kingdom of Biafr fifty thousand years ago, Olaudah Equiano in the time of Atlantic slave-trade scurvy bought his freedom in Britain, and wrote about it, first book about slavery in the time of scurvy, the Igbo have a calendar that worked in the time of scurvy, still works hard against scurvy, four market days: Eke, Afor, Nkwo, Orie, together these are a week, seven of those weeks are a month, thirteen months are a year, time passes according to scurvy, moon according to binge and purge, just like a young girl, even younger than JonBenet, keeping the best part of youth, resilience of the abused body, the eyes of scurvy see how good frailty looks, how good the skeletons, the trees inside good figures, but in famine caused and maintained by those in power, there is no return from scurvy, not when scurvy becomes your nation, not when scurvy is the honored guest of genocide, it won’t be scurvy that kills me, there is nothing out of alignment with the cosmos, what is not aligned with it is not in it, every conceivable kind of system, genocide a plenty, supernova as natural stellar attrition, supernova as form of stellar scurvy, heightened sense of luminosity ten to ten million times the luminosity of the sun, short-lived burst of everything brighter because of scurvy, how it explodes the senses, the flag of Biafra has a half-sun, the rays are spikes of explosion, it is always time for scurvy, everything tells me this, when he kills just me, there won’t be massacre, heightened senses, scurvy-mind, kills hundreds, thousands of Biafrans, hundreds of dead women, their breasts exposed as unlaunched grenades, little silos, children sucking breasts of their dead mothers, anchors, children left to suckle dud missiles, what else is there in the time of scurvy, better to put the children on big black train-dogs tracked into more darkness, pound, compounded, impounded, leave them locked onto nipples, this is an event, even though I can hear3 so much of it, sounds of killing, sounds of dying, not quite the same as writing it down, writing it up, the event is the event, happens, the sound is part documentation; event and sound of it are not in sync, not in cahoots, not as adaptable as needs to be, Marabou stork of it all, Marabou event, how does that sound as so many in a state, in an event of Biafra, die? I can't stop hearing it; why bother to try? Moses got water from a rock, from a mother can come things deeper, in miserable-logic camps, in bliss fields, children come from love and rape of the same woman, half brothers, half sisters, half-assed interactions, scurvy, all Biafran nurses shot in the hospital outside Enugu, their bodies a gift to vultures, Marabou stork bear a resemblance to dignitaries4, when they eat, nurses, children, attacking them because, like all things, these stork too have hungers, sometimes eating the very children storks are said to deliver, to bring into places of scurvy, places inhospitable to children, places of massacre, places of abortion, yes; that too, oh the sounds of killing fields --why not? happens-- that form of scurvy also, also, also, little adults, seeds of adulthood inside, they eat like dignitaries with scurvy, Ibo grace, just wait till the resurrection, wait till the return of scurvy, scourge goes hand in hand with purge, lucky couple, half-assed interactions, in 1945 northern Moslems in Nigeria kill hundreds of Igbo in Jos, no fallout, in 1966, slaughter of a hundred thousand, some Igbo descendants in Ludlow’s and by then in Woolworth’s at the lunch counter, drank Orange Crush, ice cream floating in Coca Cola, decaying beluga, decaying manatee, disappearing bottlenose dolphins near China already as white as the ghosts they’re becoming, almost as white as Klan sheets, whole suit on sale in Brighton, Michigan, auctions, group dynamics, death cycles, but I will be killed just for myself, we’ve come a long way, I have the right now for a death that is purely personal =



3 refer to Walter Ong (as in:
4 refer t




THYLIAS MOSS, MacArthur Fellow, 1996; Professor Emerita, 2015, works for Thylias Moss Writing LLC, author of ten books;  #11: "Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities' RED DRESS CodeNew and Selected Poems", September 2016, maker of poams & creator of "Limited Fork Theory" offered in these websites: The Institute of 4orkological Studies; The Mid-Hudson Taffy Company, and Lexicon 97. Her video poam: The Glory Prelude will be in the "Ellipsis" exhibit at Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. She has completed a sex-postive:  book #12.



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