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  • Writer's pictureIvy L. James

A Necklace of Teeth: Poems from the Chapbook

The cover of "A Necklace of Teeth" by Ivy L. James. An illustrated woman with wavy hair tilts her chin up to show off her necklace of teeth.
Cover of A Necklace of Teeth

A Necklace of Teeth is my second poetry chapbook, releasing 22 July 2024 from Dogleech Books.

This collection is themed around queer rage, specifically my fury around homophobic family, religious trauma, and past sexual predators.

My poetry writing style is simple, raw, and understandable. If you like Running Upon the Wires by Kae Tempest, you might like my poetry.

Trigger warnings: familial homophobia, religious homophobia, religious trauma, adult language, violence, gore, arson, murder, references to past sexual assaults.

wounds the evangelical church left in me

you got your hooks in me young—

talons with a death grip on my heart.

and when I finally wrenched myself free,

I bled.

claws tore open my ribcage,

desperate for the organs

you felt belonged to you.






but they weren’t yours anymore.


I sank to my knees, left in tatters,

but I survived,

and you howled,

with gore in your teeth and nails.


you called your fury sadness

and your hatred love;

you said you only wanted

what was best for me.

but I’m looking at the hole in my chest

     and the shreds of skin

     and the ripped-out innards

     and I’m wondering

          (with my viscera in my hands)

               if maybe that wasn’t true at all.

                    if maybe it never was.

a secondary emotion

they say anger is a secondary emotion

(an emotion fueled by other emotions).

they say it means I’m really feeling something else—

sadness or disappointment or fear, maybe.

they say it’s easier for me to express anger than express hurt.

they say anger’s an iceberg with pain beneath the water line.

they say it’s a way to protect a vulnerable heart.


and maybe it is.


maybe I am

scared and

vulnerable and

weeping deep inside.


maybe the idea of stringing together

a necklace of your teeth

is just a defense mechanism,

and I’m actually feeling

sad or

humiliated or



but are you willing to take the chance

that I might actually have the needle and thread and pliers

ready and

waiting for you?

I'll stay angry if I want to

they say anger is poison in your own glass.

they say don’t stay angry past sundown.

but I say

     fuck that.

sometimes anger is called for.

sometimes anger is the only indicator I’m bleeding.

sometimes anger has to last

     so I can work up the courage

          to tell someone they wounded me.

I’ll drink the poison

     if that’s what it takes.

the sun will set

     and rise and set

          and rise and set

               and rise and set

                    and I’ll still be furious

                         that you treated me this way.

Advance Praise for A Necklace of Teeth

"You know that scene in the movies when someone walks out from the shadows, haloed by flickering streetlights, their fingers twirling weapons with a fluidity that makes your breath stammer? Ivy L. James’ poems are the moment in the story when the soundtrack swells. This collection will pulse a surge of queer fury and recognition and power through your bones. It embarks on a hero's journey much closer to the heart than any other and isn't afraid to get its hands dripping in electric blood."

 - Elena Sichrovsky, Eating Out Anne Sexton (Ghost City Press, ‘24)


"Ivy L. James has a gift for you –


torrents of flame lightning white hot venom for those who read words of peace and choose war – slow agonies for the monsters parents promised weren't real but always been hiding in tricks of light– engraved promises of Decimation on the foreheads of those who live for sorrow – slowly teaching those wilfully ignorant the difference of stigmata v. scars – a salt the earth approach to tending the fields once known as home


It's wonderful – you're thankful of it, and make a note to check the inscription of “sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc”


A Necklace of Teeth, all for you. You pop it on, happy to wear it home."

 - Clem Flowers, author of KUDZU (Cowboy Jamboree Press) and I KNOW NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT (BULLSHIT LIT)


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You can also follow me on TikTok (@AuthorIvyLJames), Instagram (@authorivyljames), Twitter (@AuthorIvyLJames), Facebook ("Author Ivy L. James"), and YouTube ("Author Ivy L. James")! I post about writing, writing romance specifically, adulting, my corgi Pippa Finn, and other fun things.



The Orange and Pink Sunset (sapphic poetry chapbook):

Make the Yuletide Gay (lesbian holiday romance):

Border Ctrl+Esc (queer m/f marriage of convenience):

Love, Lorena (sapphic matchmaker/princess romance):

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