excerpt from "Fourteen Sonnets"

Poetry by Amy Gerstler
Derealization by June Gutman. Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist.


under dad's prudish roof
texts ping into the inbox:
you've been acting odd lately
somebody's gonna get spanked!
please note personal quirks
in the space below:
list status as loiterer or landlubber
father kept silent
so I sought garrulous lovers
inside night's scarlet quietude
and laquered afternoons
please ignore threatening phone calls
from long dead explorers
they suffered much


black-clad pilgims harsh our vibe:
pray your way out of it, Wimps!
when personality goes numb
flattery becomes a kind of battery
wanna hear some crazy drama
about the invalid sister?
whining as though wounded
she lies on her side, a stove boat
crews of dry-hump abusers
play charades in her rigging
bare-knuckle brawls break out on her brow
don't let a pill-fueled Instagram rant
hurt your delicate feelings
yes, I'll have mezcal if you've got any


o heart of my different ages
where's the monsoon you promised?
my sins were feather-light
before my boner exploded
take care, you who get caught red-handed
stealing long-held beliefs
don't let your hearts get lost in the sauce
as forests go velvet with moss
as the narrative picks up speed
as a tiny fetal horse practices galloping in the womb
I felt your kiss long before lips got involved
a distant gilded pucker
played on tin instruments
would it ruffle your feathers if I touched your aura?


his giggle floated above all others
at the laughing academy
like cream on milk, nay, like xylophone notes
or voicemail from Satan:
"May I come over to frolic and gloat?"
a presumably gorgeous
fastidious vandal
yet not quite what I had in mind:
cold mutton suppers
threats left hanging for weeks
no wails, groans or shrieks
just novels skimmed during lunch hour
burnt muffin crumbs
and ossified silence beholden to no one


the naked body's opulence a million times true
booze flings open doors
she could flee through, maybe
the pomegranate tree hid her fruit
under long verdant skirts
you must not leave me until
I choose the very best merry-go-round horse
I have something to unbosom
before I repent of it
it begins with spitting
and ends with the whites of the sky
as seen from your bed
erruptive love
must be acted on before it burns away

Amy Gerstler

Amy Gerstler has published thirteen books of poems, a children's book and several collaborative artists books with visual artists. Index of Women, her most recent book of poems, was published by Penguin Random House in 2021.

June Gutman

June Gutman is a Jewish, self-taught artist living in Montreal, Canada. Gutman’s artwork ranges in style, media, and subject matter becoming a vibrant forum for her to explore ideas about psychology, art history, self knowledge, and the ways “mental illness” - as defined by mainstream psychiatry - has caused her personal harm.

Gutman is an unbelievably prolific artist whose work may be best defined by its focus on “The Terror” - a haunting psychological state that can produce a nightmarish sensation akin to psychedelia or mystical transcendentalism. Through her work, she attempts to relieve the pain of this “Unreality” while also exploring the opaque nature of thought and the human mind.

Intuitive yet focused, horrible yet humorous, Gutman ventures into the deep recesses of the psyche finding delicate connections wedged in its corners like an archeologist dusting through the layers of a palimpsest. References run through art history with ventures into pop culture and even extraterrestrial beings. Works give the uncanny sensation of being anachronistic, complex, and radically unique.

Written by Kishka Gallery