Thanks to Jim Thompson over at Cacti Fur for publishing these 13 new haiku. Cacti Fur is the only poetry journal in America that would accept these. These 13 haiku got rejected 72 times. Here’s a brief retelling of those rejections:

For rejections 0-10 I remained giddy.

For rejections 11-26 I ate corn dogs or thought that maybe I should find some corn dogs to eat.

For rejections 27-32, which came in the winter, I felt cold on the inside and the out.

For rejection 33, this one never came, I’m guessing the editors were so knocked out by my haiku they just tossed in the towel completely and turned to stone like that one soldier in Clash of the Titans.

For rejections 34-58 I thought maybe all the publishers of poetry in America must clearly be idiots who only publish their white friends. This feelings lasted 46 days and 26 minutes.

For rejections 59-62 I thought maybe I would have better luck being published if my name was Suzy Hiro or Hilario Bustamontes or Mads Kellaway.

For rejections 63-70 I thought maybe I’m a terrible poet and then I told myself that writing is like therapy and then I washed my mouth out with Ivory soap.

Rejection 71 came from the New Yorker, oh Kevin Young, what good are you? You’re a better color than the last dude, but c’mon.

Rejection 72 never came. Rejection 72 was an acceptance letter from Jim Thompson of Cacti Fur. I love you for loving me! But I hate myself for being this needy. Jim, if you are reading this, when can I submit more poems to you, and only you, for rest of my life?

Click here for 13 new haiku by Tim Staley

Here is a picture of me pretending to talk about my 13 new haiku to Kevin Young from the New Yorker:


20 Exercises in Elitism

Imagine a helicopter meets wind power

Imagine the Allegory of the Cave meets The Big Bang Theory (2007-present)

Imagine a man at the top of a mountain meets irrepressible loneliness

Imagine dual citizenship meets ROBOCOP (2014)

Imagine a big sorrel vibrating beneath you, snorting with impatience, one hand in his mane, one on the reins meets a steel mill all boarded up

Imagine Socrates’ cup of hemlock meets Miss Teen USA

Imagine drawing a Card Against Humanity meets European war dogs ripping your body apart

Imagine a John Lennon half Mexican, half Afghani on American Idol meets the Mariana Trench.

Imagine Melania meets the man of her dreams

Imagine a policeman and another policeman and another policeman and a Secret Service man meets a series of black vans arriving to your house, your address, your fair hair

Imagine Rosa Parks meets the electric chair

Imagine a hairdryer meets a strand of hair at the bottom of the ocean

Imagine the rise and fall of the Irish elk meets the Grand Old Opry, the Grand Old Party

Imagine a Luger in the top of Scott’s closet meets an AR-15

Imagine quixotic optimism meets Mark David Chapman about a quarter mile from the scarlet fields meets the front door of The Dakota

Imagine fleeing to Canada meets not making it in time

Imagine an application for your smart phone that tells you how to dress, how to hold your hips meets the House UnAmerican Activities Committee

Imagine Barney Fife’s bullet meets the NRA seizing their moment to play offence

Imagine being the one talking meets the end of the world

Imagine the scarlet poppies over an old battlefield making us all narcoleptic and livid, narcoleptic and livid, meets zero humidity


Note: This form is stolen from Anthony Discenza’s audio installation: A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS

Published in Hineni Magazine


I chop a dozen locust trees

with a spade

from their mother roots.

They ride in milk cartons

and Walmart bags in back of the van.

I’ll dig holes for them the opposite of graves.

They’re too young to know

they weren’t wanted in their birth lawn.  

They clench the sphincter of their leaves

as the wind pounds on.

Published in Hineni Magazine

Wild Night

I knew it had been a wild night

when I pulled two elephant-sized condoms,

the packaging for an inflatable recliner,

and the wrapper for a gas station pickle

still with green in the creases

out of my tub’s drain.

My wife said from the sofa, her eyes

almost closed, that last night she didn’t need

to press her ear against the door

to hear my gagging in ecstasy

or the steam of multiple Dutch women

seeping through the plastic walls.

Now I sit in the bone dry tub

alone, fondling the refuse

as though it were a ticket stub

to the climax of my sexual arc,

and I can’t remember a thing.

Published in JOKES REVIEW


There is a mask of rain

over the canyon

and over the sun.

Scarlet light

sprays from the eyes

and teeth.

The liquid tongue

laps up the canyon

and the sun.

Published in Plumb Tree Tavern


I’m just a white American male

in a seated position. I’m a staple

in a box of 5000.

Clouds coast across the bluffs.

Little winged bugs land on me,

here’s one with a green body,

here’s one secreting a sex hormone in a swarm,

here’s the last gnat of summer.

I hear men up and down the canyon firing guns.

210 staples in a strip and I’ll be the one

that’s not reckless, the one hung up

in the machinery. I’ll watch the fire die

from a cot inside my van.

Published in Hineni



They say you’re never more than 10 feet from a spider

never more than a mile from a feeling of deep resignation

never more than 20 steps from a stubbed toe

never more than 20 drinks from a hangover

never more than a cross glance from a divorce

never more than a breaststroke away from drowning

never more than 3 inches from a waterlogged ego

like a piece of driftwood that’s about to sink.

But why are they always speaking for you?

They don’t know where you are, do they?

Published in JOKES REVIEW


They say everyone masturbates

but we should never imagine Sitting Bull,

Abraham Lincoln or Gregory Peck

all hunched over, biceps cramping.

Madeleine Albright, she refuses to imagine.

A black man on CNN says we need to talk about

what we did to the indians, perhaps this is better

than a conference, or whackers summit

or Historical Society of Wasted DNA.

Published in JOKES REVIEW

It Was the Day of My Vasectomy

A nurse prepped me like I was livestock.

I was 2 Xanax in and she was too rough.

She left my nuts under a heat lamp.

The doctor finally came in and told me

if I stopped having babies the Blacks

and the Mexicans and the Muslims

would sure enough fill this country up.

A strange sentiment for a sterilization.

Then I’m thinking about the young van Gogh,

a bit shiftless, unable to find his place

in business or in the exams of the church

so he goes down to the mine to see sunlight

through the miner’s eyes, shrunk to a pinhead,

and the Xanax is wearing off

and I smell him cauterizing my vas deferens.

Published in The Song is


The fallen soldier lands

at Cleveland International.

4 green fire trucks,

10 cop cars, a hearse,

and a blur of red, white and blue

glitters on the wet tarmac.

A son, a father, a brother

and 6 flags stand limp.

Some of us stop to gape

for 2 or 3 minutes before

dashing to our gates.

Published in The Song is

Another Meaningless Morning

Sylvia kneels on the sofa, her back to the living room,

she’s looking out the window, she sees a fluffy bird.

The light is broken by the blinds and lays across her face

in thick, bright bars. There’s dust floating in the air

and the sound of Thursday’s snoring in her dog bed

even though she just woke from 18 hours of sleep.

In the bedroom Suzanne is also asleep, on her left side,

spit hangs from the rim of her lip. The ceiling fans

continue to spin counter-clockwise. The window in the bedroom

is open, a cool front blew in last night. In the window sill,

stuck between the screen and the glass is the skeleton of a gecko,

maybe 3 inches, striped tail, eyes beady and black, wide open

and intact. Outside a breeze starts in Deming and turns bad

on its way to the Mesilla Valley. Bits of dust and rock vibrate

and lift from the desert floor to make their way in a violent cloud

toward our house, toward the fluffy, unidentified bird in our front yard

hopping between the palo verde and the juvenile locust tree

and in Sylvia’s stomach there’s a barking and a Happy Meal

watch is on her little wrist but it’s broken and is only purple to match

her skirt which has 28 sparkly hearts sewn above the bottom hem,

and between her two front teeth there’s a morsel of mango

that her toothbrush must have missed, and she turns to face her daddy,

to ask him about that fluffy bird, as he makes his way to the coffee maker.

 Published in The Song is

Ring Them Bells

Elonganel got his bell rung

and saw green for an hour.

Coach said our sideline

looked like Mash last night.

Now I sit around drinking coffee

as the non-disabled students amble in

while half the football team

wanders the hallways,

sliding recklessly back and forth

over the black ice of their synapses.

Published in The Song is

Angela, She’s Gone

I can blink the tiredness from my eyes

but she’s gone. My sister, mother of two.

My daughter’s first real death

is 3 hours old, 4 hours old…

Jill’s mom didn’t let her

go to her father’s funeral.

It was a motorcycle crash

after the war, Germany, hit by a truck.

The mother knew funerals

were no place for a child.

It’s past my daughter’s bedtime.

Go on, I tell her, play,

don’t worry about the stars

shifting on and on.

Published in The Song is

I’d Like to Teach the (Tone-Deaf) World to Sing

My dyslexia’s flaring up

Being constantly reminded

of my country’s divides

is not why I have internet

I’m a friend of perforation

She was the first woman to go home unconjugated  

after a conjugal visit

A wet spot on the bed is technically sexy

unless something unsexy spilled

like ammonia or banana juice

Only the luckiest puddles

get to stand up to evaporation

Thank God gunshots carry

otherwise one kind of war

could have snuck up

from the other side of the house

And please do give my regards

to that brutish, hard-working crew

tending the necropolis of our love

Care to crunch the numbers?

½ the world’s an idiot and always will be

½ this house too

it’s the basic action of the universe

Just by breathing

crossroads have you by the throat–

a fly without a wing knows

Raindrops drowsing on purple flowers?!

make it stop!

And it’s true, maybe, I haven’t always been

the greatest at every little thing

according to you

in this one particular life

Published in Jokes Review Winter 2018

New Porno Categories

Asian/Lower Alabama mix with mothers

whose middle names start with G, L or S

3 minutes before a hurricane

In a Satellite launching facility

with the rocket partially visible

through at least one window

Ginger with master’s degree in liberal arts

with one deceased parent and no siblings

In a slowly-filling swamp at dawn

Safe for work in the time of the Buddha

In a sensory deprivation tank in West Texas

during a partial eclipse

Amateur–in spelling only

On a bocce court while old Hungarian men

with names like Kiki talk about their fathers

with names like Pistol who died

unpeacefully in their sleep

In a kayak on a display rack

in Dick’s Sporting Goods

in the imagination of a Gila monster

dressed up as a red blood cell

underwater and surrounded

by sea cows

Published in Jokes Review Winter 2018

A Sip of the Dead Boy’s Beer

He played drums and we found one of his 6 packs
hidden in the azaleas outside his window.
Mom said, he died of being a druggie.
First Lady Reagan said that too, but dad let me
take a sip of the dead boy’s beer. It was hot
and when I swallowed, it felt like bats

nibbling at my edges. I went back to raking pine straw.
The late-morning sun stung the back of my head.
I hadn’t tried acid yet, or pot, or sex.

How light I felt, having so little to lie about.

Published in Independent Noise


A rolly polly moves slowly

beside the river. I give him

a 20 minute pep talk,

it doesn’t help. His self-esteem

is irreversibly low.  

There’s a moth with one wing

down the way on the top branch

of a baby juniper. I lean in close

for a magnified interrogation.

He holds me with a hateful look.

His friend, the fly over there,

is in the dimple of the canyon’s chin.

He’s practically lifeless, probably

an iron deficiency. He

doesn’t want to hear about it.

published in The Pangolin Review, issue 3 (May 8 2018)

The Most Honest Syllable is Shhh now available on Amazon

Tim Staley’s newest chapbook, The Most Honest Syllable is Shhh, is now available from Amazon.

This 32 page collection was originally released in June, 2017, by NightBallet Press out of Cleveland, Ohio.

Here is a poem from this chapbook:


My Life and Your Life


My life almost feels

like your life.

Your life might be

someplace nearby.

I turn over your life

like a ceiling fan:

on/off off/on

fast/ medium fast/

really fast.

In winter I turn

the other way.

Or is it your life

turning over mine?


THE MOST HONEST SYLLABLE IS SHHH available now from NightBallet Press.

This chapbook contains 23 new poems. Here’s what the experts had to say:

Who else would hand you dreadlocks, a harmonica, and an underspiced tostada? Tim Staley’s gift for playful juxtaposition is on joyful display in The Most Honest Syllable is Shah. In one collection, he throws you a giant squid, a barfing beagle, and someone named Mud Shark. A beer, a blowtorch, and an insult to opera’s pants. Staley drops zen koans into camping stories, and investigates deep divides of gender and class alongside daily dilemmas. His poems are as likely to consider the cosmic—does space smell like searing meat, pine trees, or cherries?—as the domestic: “Certainly I rinsed the vegetables.” In these pieces, the oldest poetic impulses to praise and mourn and cry out meet and marry the off-kilter collage and the party anecdote. Kick off your flip-flops and relax around the campfire with your new, tender-hearted, wacky and wise friend, Tim Staley.

– Dorine Jennette, author of Urchin to Follow


The Most Honest Syllable is Shhh by Tim Staley might just become your new best friend.  Take it with you to the bowling alley.  Take it with you to the beach.  Take it with you to the bar.  Take it with you to your grandma’s house.  These poems are fun, friendly, generous, and sincere.

-Kyle Flak, author of I am Sorry for Everything in the Whole Entire Universe


The circus is in town. One night only. Mr. Johnny Huerta, live and in person, for the first time ever in Las Cruces. Thursday, February 23, 7:30 PM, Art Obscura, Mesilla Park, New Mexico. Tim Staley and Danny Graves will provide support. Mr. Huerta’s debut collection of poetry will be on sale for 14$, cash, credit or trade. With questions contact grandmamosespress@gmail.comimg_7173