Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

Emily Kendal Frey and Friends

Ten Photographs of Boyfriend Mountain

  • Emily Kendal Frey
  • James Gendron
  • Robert Duncan Gray
  • Graham Hunter Gregg
  • Rachael Jensen
  • Hajara Quinn
  • Dasha Shleyeva
  • Derek Stackhouse
  • Drew Scott Swenhaugen
  • Julia Clare Tillinghast

Emily Kendal Frey

At the stoplight I was

Picking my nose a little

When a cab pulled up behind me

A cab with you in it

Was my first thought so I stopped

With the picking and looked

Beatific and unconcerned

Green-frosted Safeway cupcakes,

Huge packs of small bags of Cheetos,

Platters, ham, baby tomatoes, mild cheddar,

Olives, no, not even olives, ranch

I have this fantasy where I sit

On my couch until I don’t love you

You can see layers of cells

Float and rise from my body in a halo

The neighbor’s had a chicken carcass

On her porch for most of a day

I want to crawl into the farthest

Corner of sleep and see

What death feels like but not die

Boyfriend, I’m still coming

Down your cold freckled sides

Destroying your life

Like an avalanche

People don’t trust each other

And that’s no one’s fault

All I remember from drinking

Is bathroom stalls

The bruised banana of my mouth

In a gilded mirror

Pants coming off

At the rest stop we joked

About chicken strips –

STRIP! we yelled and then my friend

Went home to make wrong

Decisions. People don’t like me

Because I seem standoffish which is true

I can’t regulate my membrane

It’s too thick or thin, my face

Bunches up like a peony

But please know it’s love I’m protecting

You from, maybe that makes you feel

Less hated, I don’t know

James Gendron

The higher I ascend, the more vegetarian I become.
The more convincingly my feelings imitate
A combination bouncy house & stoner prison.
Some feelings spray off naturally & some are sucked
Into the root systems of ghosts, swaying swayfully
Upon the narrow peak of Boyfriend Mountain,
Which in turn is on a star, & also it rains on the star,
With the rain sort of saying to the star, hey, cool it.
Venomous blue jeans slither in the undergrowth,
Paralyzing and swallowing complicated things.
Some people brag about making history,
But history is made of messed-up stuff.

Robert Duncan Gray

I am a darling
Benign in the morning
Only open

My will is weak

I am a father
Alone in a hospital
Pretty dogged

The sky is clean

I am a fruit fly
For some reason living
Though it’s November

The bees are asleep

I am an anthology
A child inside
Growing patient

My nausea is glowing

I know dead angels
Forever attentive
Wishful thinking

We are all stoned here
I am agricultured
My flowers are bleeding
Until empty

Our paint is wet

I shaman operas
And fly in abundance
As telephones whisper

Ignore your drunk uncle

I got your nose kid
And I use it daily
To do my cocaine with

Lost in a vacuum

I stroke an ostrich
At least once a morning
Fearlessly ravenous

Clip my left whisker

I walk in circles
And call myself audience
Costly this opus

Quiver our scrotum
Collectively lonesome
Atop Boyfriend Mountain
Exercise caution

You are polite company

Everything is quiet
The trees are not flattered
I’m fat of the land here

And all of us dirt

Graham Hunter Gregg

after all
this time
i am
not a god
this is a warning
scream swallowed in
early morning
by low lying fog
devouring valley
this house of rust
it is tough to get used to
silence as it eats
the i did not come alone
the i asked for the entirety of no one
this awful witness
all this supposition
of strength
i use you
for my own disposal
from this vantage point
i can defend but not protect
from this damage maneuver
your hands will heal
i showed wound
i went missing in
the don’t let us get sick
the car crash save me’s
the easy beauty
i am no new boy
i did not come alone
to this wildness
in this dark
nothing is
more terrifying
than your light tearing
down the mountain
in the hands of someone else
i am
not a god
but i am yours
careful baby

Rachael Jensen

If someone asked, I would tell them

I’d spent seventeen years walking

toward a mountain said to be an ecstatic

landmass writhing with kind, lithe boys—

and they say only boring people get bored—

but I became bored with walking toward

this boyfriend mountain which never came,

and being of age and aroused I suddenly wanted

for any boy, so I turned and ran

until I caught the biggest thing in my path:

a shadowy bull, dull, shaggy, unremarkable

save his large, articulated balls

bulging like intriguing tumors

and this necklace he wore,

macraméd from gore

which I thought was pretty cool, actually;

and when I bowed at his feet

to puke from all that lusty running

he held my hair and said hey, you’re good at that

which was the right thing to say at the time

so between heaves I said I love you I love you

I just love you, then realized it was as true

as most things a girl my age can say.

He said nothing, just trembled

like a hill of Paleo Jello,

but I could tell he was into me on a physical level

so what the hell,

I let him fork me onto his back and held his neck

lace like a rein all the way to a motel

far away from the mountain,

where he raised me above the pool like a sacrifice,

or maybe it was a Simba reference, I’m not sure,

and bobbed me into a baptism over and over,

until no part of me raised

not even my braid—

and then I was saved,

aka married.

And if someone asked, I’d tell them

I’m bored again, and often think of the mountain.

I embroider a phrase for the bedroom

~Choose Your Love

Love Your Choice~

a mantra I mutter in the morning

as my bull mechanically romances me

and mansplains what I suspected all along:

that boyfriend mountain was nothing

more than a husband, in the way fog

isn’t magic, just let down clouds.

Hajara Quinn

When we walked out
onto the jetty that first time
we were the sum of our future
In the beginning we had
beginner’s luck.
And what was there to turn down for?
Not the monoliths deep
in their beauty sleep.
Not the brute fondness
of the ocean
that great lactating thing
lobbying for the shore
in its rolling polyrhythyms.
When we got bored
we took naked pictures and burned sage
or took our ennui on a road trip
so as to evanesce
into some other landscape.
When it was summer
we ate the hotdog of summer.
And when it was winter
we ate the meatloaf of winter.
Eventually, we learned
how to find the ease within the effort
and vice versa
how to be a song on repeat
without resenting it.
We were never not tourists
trading in our curfews
for the fantasy of proximity
to duende,
always just another example
on a long list of examples
of splendor making do
with we who had been sent
to approximate it.

Dasha Shleyeva

straight lines
with slow growth of light out of the leaves
held by the thin arms of bark
i remembered a way that clouds can
imitate memory
how a dream can seep into you
dampen your hands
and soak through the day
until brimming
i want to absorb only the
and leave you the
to be reabsorbed into the cloud cover
up into the birds
carried away and aired by the flapping wingspans, echoing

i swallowed a cave in my sleep
white flowers grew out of the cave
and left my body
i told myself that it was normal
and fell back into sleep
i awoke to a growing song above my head
it hovered over me until it reached
a loudness of white (and light)
and light
and light
and was gone
it took me some time to realize it escaped
through my mouth and into the cave
inside of me to curl up and sleep
until another song grew out of it
i sat up in bed to see that my room
was hung with white
flowers shivering on the walls
the floor all white.
they had grown while i slept.
i wanted to sleep
but i wasn’t sure what the flowers would do
when i closed my eyes
i was afraid they, too, would try to
crawl back into the cave
at this point i started wondering what it would be like to sleep
in that same cave. with the song
would i grow
i was scared i would grow so fast that i would get trapped in that pocket
of my own body
i got out to touch the flowers
fingers deep in pollen.

Derek Stackhouse

You grew severe in the hallway mirror
while I majored in absenteeism.
You’re courageous in a contagious way.
I can’t bring myself to say it.
You get extra spindly when smoking weed.
You travel to exotic locales like Texarkana
and Perth and the Chinese city
where they make all the sunglasses.
I’m crawling. Another dumb fight
and I’m crawling home, I swear.
You wrote a book on the weirdest minerals
and I wrote a song called subpar funeral.
I wish wind chimes would shut
the fuck up. You don’t mind them.
Are we alike enough? From the vista,
you promised I’m on your Mt. Rushmore.
You want olives so I pick some up.
To know why we shuffle around
this way, disappear for days,
would be to unplug gravity. I love
the blind groping and you love the blind
groping. You can’t say “freedom” without
giggling. I googled you twice today.
Are you truly linked in? Let’s try
to live inside this cool hypothesis.

Drew Scott Swenhaugen

I too am that pretty muthafucka
Repping the condo sich
Rolling the mini fridge in
With my longboard

If you swallow a karaoke bar
Does it still sing?

In this city the wolf knows
A wolf knows a wolf

See, I can be a serious
Step mom or sugar dad or would you rather
I jump into the sad stuff?

Do you want me to go to the bathroom
On your ideas? Do you want me to
Elaborate my plan to be a renter
Into late adulthood?

We are probably going to be

Srsly tho, enough
With the loud frippery! I say

“These airtight windows,
These exposed beams
These are my JAMS!”

I heard there was a train station
On this land a long-ass time ago


Outside the coffee shop I can totally see
Deep Space on your Spandex.

Let me guess yr entrance code

Yr view is rad

You can see Boyfriend Mountain from here

Oh you’re not from here? You’ve
Never heard of Boyfriend Mountain?

I bet that in a few years
You’ll know that sharp edge of life by heart

Julia Clare Tillinghast

My first boyfriend was not a boy
Nor have I ever come
Down from her

Since then, sure
I’ve loved lots of flesh cocks
Colors of sunsets, scrapes, oaks

I have reached for the word that means
Something you’ve experienced
But cannot see,
Wind-colored skin

I have called it faith
Because I don’t know what else to call the truth
My first boyfriend, faithless, took me to feed ducks on Yom Kippur
All our old bread
All our old ways of being

After she left I learned
Once a Jewish scholar begins writing a name of God
He does not stop until he’s finished
Not even to greet
A king

We heave around for love
Like it’s this thing but love, experientially
Is utterly

I have named her cock
I have called it faith

She put a
strap-on on and fucked me with it
Like how occasionally
Every once in a while
Due to the laws of probability
All the torture around the world pauses
All the torturers drink water
All the trains stop howling

Sometimes she put socks
In her boxer-briefs
And we went to sit at a bar together
And that was like how sometimes
When you say I love you
You really just mean
Only that
And we went to sit at a bar together And that was like how sometimes When you say I love you You really just mean Only that

Emily Kendal Frey and Friends

For the release party of their split full-length book, Boyfriend Mountain, Tyler & Kelly invited ten Portland poet-friends to write and read their own poems called "Boyfriend Mountain" (Photos: Vintage National Geographic)