diode v9n1



The Luck of a Jelly Fish

I’m a simple jelly fish

aimlessly afloat

on the jersey shore

An under tow it’s low tide

lugs me to the last life

guard stand


I’m stuck burning

beneath a glaring sun

Two green heads

buzz by a shoo-bee’s ankles

 I doubt I’m supposed to

 be here

And yesterday

the sharks were eating

children again

in this blinding red heat


 it’s only a matter of time

till the sea gulls get me

I need to see

 the psychic

near Mr. Peanut Head

The teller hints of citrus

and sun tan lotion

She’s big boned

with long thick fingers  

her gold bangles

dance like wind

chimes with each flick

 of her wrist

She cups my tentacle

Stares gently

 “You are an unlucky jellyfish”

she says her eyes sparkle

due to the sins

of my past lives

she explains

I had been a nomad

and killed a few women

a mosquito and fathered

more than a few bastards

She can change my luck

and my future

All I need

are two of her crystals

and 5 more sessions.


Diameter of My Father’s Guilt

gambling on
cheap casinos
flawed patrons
looking for pleasure
for ways to win
my father is awarded
a medal
for 5 years clean

to sobriety
and addiction
I watch my father
graciously accept his award

milk and bananas
sudden weekend service
at Union Baptist
routines of
of jelly beans
and fake grass
for breakfast
intertwined with strange
confessions of narcotic
messy adventures

Out-of-place yet there I was
a pubescent listener
by illicit stories
of a liquid lunch
on an off duty officer
a grandmother’s
stolen heirloom
pawned with last
year’s Christmas gifts

In a room fluttering
with recovering addicts
my father adorned
like an Olympic
gold medal
displays his medallion for 5 years clean
I wonder how
I would measure

In a “Just Say
No” generation
cautionary tales
of alcohol and drug addiction
a noble gesture
an easier conversation
than dirty
gay sex

of pre-cum
spewing from an
uncircumcised penis
pulsing in my
adolescent mouth
could not be asked

Buried secrets looming
like orange moons
why bring me
to a space full
of brutal
sticky confessions
bones exposed

A rebel
I just said yes!
I said yes a lot
despite being
too afraid
to say


“Love on a Two Way Street”

Momma and I visit Sista on the 5th floor of the children’s ward

Her nurse a good-looking woman with strong manly hands

whack Sista’s back hack-up mucous rooted in her lungs  

Careful I touch the red button on her breathing machine

delicately cause I don’t want to break it  

I am autumn leaves dotting a wet deserted boardwalk

Six years apart I hold my sisters’ hand on Chicken Bone beach

Fatherless dodging greedy sea gulls we laugh sweet in the salty air

the ocean breeze cool our warm feet gathering sand crabs

leaping the high tide first born doomed by the current 

While Sista collects sea glass and broken shells

I drown under a cloudless sky

I am memory in last month’s black out

In the front pew “Hush little baby” Momma whispers to Sista

A school picture of me smiling closed mouth

adorned with white and red carnations takes place of a casket

I am bits of chocolate molding in a stale box under Mama’s bed

Mama’s birthday party I force myself to stay up

cause I don’t want to miss the best part

she performs an oldie but goodie with Sista standing by

Her belly full with Sutter Home head tilt back sun-kissed lips toot

a tune of a tender woman “Found love on a two-way street

and lost it on a lonely highway”

I am last winter’s leftovers wrapped in foil freezer burnt

The roaches will have a feast tonight with what’s left out half-eaten and undone.


Freedom Summer

Sunday night a young boy
tips out quietly
closing the blue screen door
of his father’s row home

A blue moon night
In the Capital
a protest erupts
A cool white Lincoln
observes disapprovingly

While tourists purchase
Newport Lights  Double Mint Gum
The Times the kid enters the book store
on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd

Chanting, “No Justice No Peace
No Racist Police!” The people
 hurl piss bottles at faceless
officers armed ready in riot gear

Beyond the “Enter At Your Own Risk”
sign the kid fingers the merchandise
Hustler Beef Cake and Black
Inches parade full frontal 

A body bloody unconscious
decorate the monument’s muddy lawn
A prop its media in a frenzy
 cash on the chaos

The boy disappears inside a video booth
peep holes stink of sweat and cum
rippled porn stars flicker beneath
grunts of soft gut liquid moans

The blue night is rocket launched ablaze
hot tear gas and black bullets fire
bombed citizens scramble for cover
 Looks like a war zone

A dark Spanish man enters his booth
His tongue easy and fertile
tickle the roof of the kid’s mouth
taste like beer and freedom  

Eager the stranger pulls down his pants
erect fingers spread the kid’s legs his mouth
pressed against a blue video screen
and the sky opens

The kid can hear glass breaking in the distance
A fire truck echoes the Pledge of Allegiance
 “One nation under God” hand over heart
“Hace el amor motherfucker Hace el amor”  


Travis Love is a poet born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He has developed much of his writing in Murphy Writing workshops. He is the founder of the The Sex Brigade, which produces Story Slams and Poetry Slams, and creates a supportive space for writers to share their work in Atlantic City.