TWO POEMS | by Ellyn Touchette

MERRY CLAYTON SINGS US STERILE

I am flying down I-95, flipping stations, staring at the radio

like I’ve got a death wish, when the last minute

of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” comes flailing onto WBLM.

 

I am sitting on a barstool. A boy in a leather jacket

is telling me to listen for Mick Jagger to moan with pleasure

when Merry Clayton’s voice cracks on the high notes at the end.

The boy is effortless cool. Knows a lot about rock n’ roll.

Tells you who to root for in every song. We listen.

There is a crack. A moan. As promised.

 

I am flying down I-95. Merry Clayton is screaming far gone memories

of this boy who is leaving. I have to believe she knows

what a storm sounds like; what it is to be fire-swept.

 

I am leaning against the wall of a handicapped bathroom,

a pregnancy test drying on the floor. There are two minutes on the timer

and the end of my life is a shot away. When the dried bar

tells me just how empty I am, my voice cracks under the weight

of this loneliness. The boy I now know I can’t keep tells me I have

a pretty voice. I tell him I have a hard time with the high notes.

 

I am flying down I-95, chasing this boy who loves like war; like murder.

I do not know whether he will take The Stones with him

when he goes, only that this can never again be my song.

 

I am listening to my lover talk about rock and roll. There is no end

to his praise of the voice crack. He does not know how many ways Merry Clayton

broke the night she laid the track. He still does not know about the miscarriage.

The pretty boys who moan when their women break do not know that you can sing

your body empty, that a woman’s fury is caustic and her grief is barren land.

Merry Clayton and I… we must have hit the same high notes.

 

 

 

 

~

 

ENDOMETRIOSIS, CHARISMA, AND A GOOD SINGING VOICE

My mother’s sister meets the devil between jobs.

He snags her ankle in the revolving door and pulls her down.

He asks what she has always wanted (A voice, she whispers);

needed (A husband, she admits); longed for (A baby, she cries).

Satan grins; promises safe delivery. He does not mention

that he is a man of two-thirds promises; does not tell what he plans to take.

Tonight she sings under her breath as a man sets the dinner table.

She would love to concede that she is happy like this,

but every few weeks she calls to remind me

that when she is gone, she will give me all the fine silver.

 

 

 

Ellyn Touchette is a biology student and behavioral health professional from Portland, Maine. She is on the board of directors for Port Veritas, a slam and nonprofit which she has represented at multiple national competitions (NPS 2013 and 2014, WOWPS 2013). Her work is present or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Black Heart Magazine, The Legendary, and Drunk in a Midnight Choir.

 

FOUR POEMS | by Trisha Parsons

A kind-of height

I ached for some cigarettes.  Funny, because I never smoked.  But he smoked hourly, probably.  I always liked the way it smelled on him.  I remembered a time when we’d shared cigars on the parking garage rooftop, smoking out little moonbeams, down to the darkness of 20th street.  I looked out at a hotel – flashing green sign – sleep here.  With him.  Ahhhh, with him.  He smelt like tobacco and dirt but he made me feel pretty.  I blushed, cherry-red around him; my cheeks giant freckles of nerves.  Listless, but lively, we lived inside each other’s emptiness, for awhile.  Awake, eyes open on coffee and insomnia in our tight space filled with guitar strings and Magic cards.  He never wanted to teach me to play.  He wanted me to fall in love with him, and I might have, too.  He looked good, in his one suit, and I liked him sitting in the passenger seat of my car.  Orange, under the glow of streetlights.  But now, in the aftermath of an almost-love we can’t even be friends.  I smoke, to remind myself of the comfort I found in his presence.  That time we were on the roof, waving to the people down below.  We probably weren’t ever really friends (just friends) but we were tall.   

~

  

ghost   

honey, your bones are inexplicably lovely.

there, in a cavity of the earth

completely swallowed, engulfed,

by a particular matter of soil and grass.

your remains are not remains, baby

life has not yet left you just because you 

rest in solitary pieces covered by earth

does not mean you are beyond everything

I still think of you and I see you

standing next to me when I look

in the mirror, and sweetheart

you’re going to have to be more

observant of your smell.

it’s overwhelming my senses

which is seriously tragic when

it makes me believe

I could touch you. 

 

~

 

haunting

I get pretty sick of people thinking I’m still here.  Like, “oh I can feel your presence.”  Bullshit!  I’m gone.  I’ve left; completely digested and overwhelmed by this cavity in the earth that was dug for a grave where you could come and wish me back to life.  I am remnants of what I used to be!  Sticking around is really getting tiring, all this spooky crap.  I’m no good at it so you just need to let me go.  Oh, and I can’t do anything about that smell.  I’m dead.  

 

 

~

 

the bedpost diary

secrets are the lies on bed sheets 

steamed stained suspicious in the morning when your 

lover’s gone never considered in 

porous pink primed passion

how the bra is best left undone - 

the time it takes to  … oooh

how you wish you had asked 

about that floozy and the other

night you lied about should you have told?

_________________________________________________

Trisha Parsons is a full time student at the University of Wyoming where she studies English and Gender Studies.  She has always fancied herself a poet, but has found her poetic tendencies to be helpful in writing prose, and hopes to endeavor into the wild world of novels.    

FLASH FICTION | by Nikki Thompson

Doorways

From time to time I fall in love. I don’t do it often to save myself embarrassment. I prefer something more solid, like doorways. It’s clear what to expect — if a door is open, I’m welcome; if it’s closed, I’m not. A locked door can be infuriating, but less so than waiting for his phone calls. Then of course, his phone calls are followed by calls to friends; the possibilities in his words must be analyzed. These conversations are made up of the false starts and trips and mistellings of anticipation and remembering. If it’s really serious, I’ll meet a friend for coffee so we can strategize in person. Unlike Christmas, no specific day guarantees an open door and an end to waiting.

 

Floor Plans

The first time I fell in love, there were three of us. This didn’t seem quite right when I looked at my floor plans, but I was still learning to read the symbols of sinks and couches and sliding doors. He was tall, blond, cracked eggs on his head, and jumped in front of departing cars. As soon as we got home, the three of us were on the phone. It’s true, our trio was inseparable, but I would have preferred two. I was the one who dyed his hair red for the Tori Amos concert. I thought that meant something. This went on for a year and a summer. That my two closest friends were boys, content with our three-way friendship, seemed as natural as drawing floor plans instead of listening in geography. Everyone thought we were dating, I had to tell them no. Then he’d be over for hot chocolate and confidences. Too late, I understood the most important confidence.

 

Sections

I have a friend who falls in love once a week, which can be a problem. (I could never love that many boys at once. I would have to draw myself elevations and sections to know which boy was which, what to talk about, what I liked about him.) Some of the girls know people in common, and then they’ll both show up at the same party. In these cases, I’m expected to rescue my friend. If we’re taking the bus together, he’ll point out a girl he might fall in love with. I can’t keep track of all the names, so I’ve asked him to make me a database. He’s an accountant not an architect, which must be where we differ. Maybe I’ll laminate the database, so I can give it to him for his birthday. That way when he looks back, he’ll recognize himself at that particular moment.

 

 

Facades

I frequently fall in love with structures. My first time at the Palace of Fine Arts, I thought maybe I’d get married. That way I could take pictures under the neoclassical grandeur without feeling like a tourist. Then there was the Greene and Greene, reliable with its rustic straight lines; and the Julia Morgan, romantic with the concrete flowers and leaded glass. Once I had a friend complicit in these obsessions — a 2:00 AM drive through West Hollywood and a Schindler house with thin windows that delicately separated concrete slabs. I wasn’t much impressed by the facade of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, although there was something compelling in the stubborn geometry. I fell in love with the interior: the ambiguity between inside and outside, between rooms and floors — the meticulous simplicity. I never anticipated the brilliance of that openness.

 

 

Connections

Once I was in love with a furniture maker. I never knew him beyond small talk, but I had seen his furniture. If I could make furniture (if I could get over my distaste of screaming metal and shrieking wood, my hesitation around sharp, rapidly moving blades, my association of woodshops with torture chambers), and if my craftsmanship was that meticulous (all I ever see in my work are the flaws where things come together, the clumsiness), his furniture would be the furniture I would dream of making — furniture more provocative, more beautiful than an Eames’ chair or a Le Corbusier (but not more than a Greene and Greene, I wasn’t that in love.).

_________________________________________________________

Nikki Thompson is a poet, book artist (aka Deconstructed Artichoke Press), and happily failed architect. She fled Southern California for UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in architecture and edited Berkeley Fiction Review. She remained in the Bay Area and earned her MFA in creative writing from California College of the Arts in 2002. Her work has appeared in Mason’s Road, Cobalt Review, *82 Review, among others. She currently teaches special education at South San Francisco Unified School District, while residing in Pacifica, California, with her husband and darling pitbull, Daisy Mae.

THREE POEMS | by Rose Hunter

image


read more….

http://www.dancinggirlpress/hunter14.pdf

 

THREE POEMS | by Alicia Banaszewski

There’s More to Say on the Subject than I’ll Ever Be Able to Articulate So I Shouldn’t Even Bother

But I don’t ever do as I’m told and I keep receiving flowers

from the wrong people and I keep telling the wrong

person goodnight. What gives? Ladyfingers are a delicate

food and concept. Lady fingers are thinner than a man’s

and therefore weaker, but better. Therefore more

beautiful and breakable and inconsistent, because hormones.

I like to dress in all black and then speak in bright neon tubing.

The sign I wear as a locket says closed but all these strangers

keep knocking. Be back at 8AM, I say, Sorry for any inconvenience.

~

 

These Vessels

As foreign as marks of lipstick on glasses
and mascara stains on my sleeve—

young stars fly out of spiral arms and into
puddles of lace, the instruments of my alienation—

This is exactly the way I knew it would be,
so silent, so cold—surrounded by your body

of water. Wearing pastels has made me feel softer
and like the lilac bush outside my mother’s house—
      that so quickly loses its decoration, I pull inward.

She’s too busy soaking in the long draw of a good
compliment to smile in every picture. It wasn’t her,

it was the idea I loved.
With a watercolor face I
followed my dalmatian onto our sectional couch.

My mother met me at the bus stop to tell me
the dog had died. In times like these I sleep
in only a towel—to feel something wrapped around me.

~

 

Self Portrait - Sprawled on an Itchy Brownish Rug

I am sitting on a train, without a voice.

I am a magnolia tree resisting wind,

an Arizona blackbird’s startled heart,

the storm of cream in your morning coffee.

I am the flamboyant peacock idly marching in the zoo,

the girl at the party who asks you to refill her cup

because kegs give her anxiety.

I am the isolated hail atop a single mountain,

the bluegill who pricks your flesh, which you catch and always throw back.

I wash my face with peppermint soap and an old flannel shirt.

I am a terrible pen pal. I cannot organize my thoughts.

I am indifferent about UFOs.

I wish I had Julia Child’s gusto.

I lack peripheral vision and spatial awareness.

I often bump into strangers or accidentally brush their fingertips.

I am constantly disheveled, a car spinning on ice.

 

 

Alicia Banaszewski is a poet and playwright in Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in The Light Ekphrastic, The Fat City Review, The Finger, and others. Her column “Michigan on My Mind” can be found on a semi-regular basis at detroitbeerpress.blogspot.com

POEM | by Lily Duffy

FILL
 
Anyway, give me what I need. A hymn laying there
noiseless can play dead for the judges, but knows what to do
when I walk in. A hymn laying there. You and your hoe,
the ground and a pattern—ditches dug so we could climb out
but fuck in them first. The fucking comes first. My face
to your back for the judges when I walk in noiseless knows
a pattern and the ground. A hymn laying there. A ditch dug
lays there noiseless when I walk in and so the fucking first.
Knows to climb in before out, always fuck first. The judges
fuck first. Your hoe on the ground, your hoe laying there. A
hymn noiseless and a pattern dug first, later ditched. When you
play dead fucking, lay first. Climb out so the judges noiseless
from fucking see my face when I walk in, know what to do. A hymn
laying there. A hymn laying there dug for a ditch climbs out
first, judges. Fuck the ground played for its pattern, what dead
I need to me given. You and your hoe, noiseless. When I walk in.


 
_______________________________________________________
Lily Duffy is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she also teaches creative writing. Her poems have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, ILK journal, Cloud Rodeo, Bone Bouquet, NAP, inter|rupture, and elsewhere. With Rachel Levy, she co-edits DREGINALD. She lives in Denver.

SIX POEMS | by Sara Lupita Olivares

HANGING PLANT  
a still point becomes a web in and out of light             
this is the epiphany made of someone’s fuchsia
the entire thing forgotten and gladly
perkiness leans itself downward in some dramatic plunge


~

 

IN AVOIDING
there are hooves dancing

in the yard
saying things are further
saying truth is made out of discomfort

I tie string to each expression because it disappears
our legs as ideas of being carried
as sheets and clothes in crooked branches

 

 ~

 

LABELS
forgot the pots and pans behind masking-tape
names of each epiphany
leave the stomach
you watch yourself
each bits

of clay
a joy to rename
the many flowers 

 

~

 

FIELD THINGS
we were keeping our horse heads
screwed onto their sticks
these included our real hair
attached to thought

this tin a cup this carpet floral


 ~

 

DOWNPOUR
I wasn’t dressed like myself.

I was a horse in the rain
wearing my blanket.
These things seem tediously insignificant.
Tomorrow I will be a better listener.
Everything dressed in its blue rain jacket.

 

 

CONVERSATIONS FROM A WINDOW
merriness as an ordinary object   
as my plates and your silver things

we are a tiered cake
a day we can’t always have

and I wonder
of this plume

of you
this plume
of mine

sternness only
an ornament

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sara Lupita Olivares is an MFA candidate at Texas State University.    

TWO POEMS | by Michelle Reale

Rhizomatic
 
In retrospect raffish wasn’t a good choice in a man.  Nobody tells you these things anymore.  Teach as you have been taught.  So you wished your mother wore an apron and had the perpetual look of the martyr? Wish again.  Here is recalibration in all of its glory. Take a step backward, and then lunge forward.  Give yourself a running start.  If a house in your dreams represents your body, what does it say for the upper level with all of the windows open and everything flying out and away from you?  Alarm clock, alabaster owl, down pillow, a crucifix.  The thrones are empty and there is no one left to climb the crooked stairs.  Your trust has been meticulous, but that train has left the proverbial station.  You will never have to show documentation again.  There are 1000 plateaus and there are no clues on how to get there.    Try to find a place where everyone sublimates their feral tendencies .  Not making a choice, in the end, is the best choice of all.
 
 
That’s the Way to Do It
 
At the Academy of Punch and Judy you are not only failing miserably, but you have, in fact, been failed.  I can’t really tell, though, if this is a masculine or feminine problem.   Are there other options?  When destitution has become a desire, when silence speaks louder than words ever could, the wounds come to the surface.  They may be superficial, but isn’t everything?  Still, they are wounds nonetheless. You care your own sovereign nation state.  Wave your flag. It has all gone pear-shaped, but there still may be time for something else.   This is your purdah.  Acute undermining of the kind of life hoped for at birth.  Stop picking the scabs.  Your eyes will adjust to the gloaming and you will still possess the ability to look away when it is appropriate.  And, thankfully, even when it’s not.

 
_____________________________________________________
Michelle Reale is an Assistant Professor at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  She is the author of four collections of fiction and prose poems and has been published in a wide variety of publications both online and in print. She has been twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry collection “The Legacy of the Sidelong Glance,” will be published by Aldrich Press in the Fall. She does ethnography among African refugees in Sicily and blogs about some of her experiences at www.sempresicilia.wordpress.com

TWO POEMS | by Christie Collins

Ovarian Teratoma

a tumor consisting of different types of tissue and capable of growing hair, teeth,
and other body parts.


Teratoma didn’t receive invite to your tea party.
Teratoma don’t like tea cakes.
Teratoma has 3 teeth, a patch of slimy hair, and baby
                     foot growing off to one side.
Teratoma thinks he looks fat in jeans.
Teratoma hungry for cardboard.
Teratoma has no eye but if he had eye
                     he’d blink twice for yes.
Teratoma eat his twin.
Teratoma don’t like mirrors.
Teratoma come from body but has no
                   mother to speak of.
Teratoma see the world in white.
Teratoma likes to spin.
Teratoma want to wear icicles as earrings,
                   but in the body, icicles melt.
Teratoma has an itch on his noggin.
Teratoma want to feel the sunlight.
Teratoma another wonder of the body, 
                 but he knows you look away.

~

Glory

While waiting in line to pay for gas in an overstocked service
station, who has not been tempted to purchase one

of those one dollar grab bags bundled in brown paper
and bottom heavy like a packed lunch? What you don’t need

is another oversized I Love Florida tee shirt or a sand-filled
keychain, but the suspense is surprisingly unwholesome.

Something like the lure of online dating. You said you wouldn’t,
but you’ve thought about those deep levels of compatibility

advertised on late night infomercials. You know about
being dimensional. You’ve kissed with your eyes open.

You want what you want. Or you want to know what you want.
It’s the experience that counts, which is why, when you go pee

in the truckstop bathroom next door, you stop and study
the round hole in the wall that’s just even with your waist.

Because you have a hankering to be exposed, audacious, bad,
you place your open mouth to the wall and close your eyes.

______________________________________________________

Christie Collins lives and writes in Louisiana where she teaches at LSU while working on a PhD at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Recently, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, Canyon Voices, and So to Speak.  Her chapbook, Along the Diminishing Stretch of Memory, is forthcoming from dancing girl press.

FIVE POEMS | by Katie Hartsock

The Things Will Never Be the Same Extended Stay Hotel
 
 
The desk has grown since yesterday, the cedar
hangers have alchemized to metal wire,
and the mirror is upside down, reflecting
a body-long wrinkle on the bed.
Redial button rings a stranger.
Even in the still life above the headboard,
rearrangement has transpired—yellow pears
knocked from the burnished bowl,
a corsage posed by the fiasco of chianti,
and a chomped apple has been thrown in
so its tooth marks catch the light.
Someone has been here,
and the question is not identity
or intent, but how was it
for those bones to move in this room,
did a little toe bump the bed frame,
did that light switch turn on anything?
Pillows smell like the beloved’s breath
after a beer, but among the suspects
the beloved does not number.
 
 
 
 ~
 

I-65: The Come On Inn
 
 
The bear had just turned eighteen
when she went over the mountain
to see what she could see.
 
Credit and fate filled up
her tank, steered south,
and picked the room to take.
 
The turned down sheets were hers
to rumple as she liked;
starched cotton, broken in.
 
But who picked the man, the brand
of booze. Strange communion,
first drink in a Jacuzzi:
 
cold plane of glass between
the upheld palm and your body
submerged in warmth.
 
You parted the curtains,
and the length of highway lamps
and distant country music cities
 
—flattened to a tapestry
of muffled glinting bells
embroidered on the blackest
 
blanket of night to ever cover
the other side of the mountain—
was all that you could see.
 
 
 
 
 
 ~
 

The Drop-Kick Me Sweet Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life Motel
 
 
The blue-paned porthole window opens to a field
someone else dreamed up, yellowed centuries ago.
It’s pleasant to dream a stranger’s sentimental dream,
and warm, like wearing a dead grandfather’s sweater
and clenching the cuffs into fists. The walls are washed
as gray as that sweater, as if they wish to be
faring forth on the sea, away from all pastures.
The poorly appointed room has no door,
but one day, to some discerning outside eye,
the round window may look like a doorknob.
 
 
 
 
 ~
 

Route 6: Balmers Herberge

A field of forms
defined by lines
they make against
conclusive shades.


A pear picked up,
identified.
Knees settle down
in weeds while mountains
decide the stars.


And strangers talk
away their strangeness
with many kinds
of talk like touch.


Finish sentences
and nudge the napes
of necks as if
their shapeliness
had long been known.


Heaven happens,
extinguishes
the night before
its earthly end.


How could it last
in skin and fruit.
But don’t be bitter.
Abandoned, do not
deny what you met.

 
 
 
 
 ~
 
 

The Only Living Girl in Chicago Extended Stay Hotel
 
 
Lord You Are My Solitude, written
on the napkin left with an untaken tip.
Solitude never means just one, that
would be death. A walk is decided upon,
an exaggerated path woven again
around trunks. As night wades in, some
thing in the blood stirs to touch the bark.
Branches and leaves intone Geronimo!
altogether too calmly, as if it’s nothing
to fall and touch the ground
for the first time. If a grandfather
were here he’d say for the love of Pete
look at the time, turn on a light—
typing in the dark’s bad on the eyes.
_________________________________________________________
 
Katie Hartsock grew up around Youngstown, Ohio, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. Her poems have recently appeared in Southern Indiana Review and Beloit Poetry Journal, and are forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, Measure, and Southwest Review. Her chapbook, Hotels, Motels, and Extended Stays, will be published by Toadlily Press in their Quartet Series this fall.

FIVE POEMS | by Valerie Loveland


"The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off"

The Wall Street Journal wrote a scurrilous headline
about my boyfriend. Eben McBurney Byers
drank so much radium water, our kisses shimmered.
A robust socialite, his hair dark
with pomade. Everything was going so well
until his jaw came off. A jaw
will answer the door and let anyone in,
soaks in necrosis.

My dental hygienist asked if I worked in a match factory.
I denied my occupation until she flicked off the light switch.
My teeth: a light source, jaw bones:
phosphorous-drenched. I haven’t been flossing.

She thinks I am developing phossy jaw.
I haven’t touched white phosphorus
in months. The Salvation Army switched our factory
to red phosphorus. The hygienist should examine her own
dead finger, I suspect
her waterpik shook her nerves and vessels loose.

One can work in a matchstick factory for 5 years
without symptoms.
One can drink radium water for 3 years.

Before Eben died, we had twins, named them
Mandible,
Maxilla.

When I kissed Eben’s hands in the dark,
I saw their skeleton outline.
He took off my nightgown, traced
the branches of my lungs glowing through my chest.

 

~

 

Three Dangerous Men


My husband and his gang busted out of prison.
I can’t tell them apart—all wear the same curled mustaches,
dark eyebrows. Are they related?
Is prison really full of men with villain mustaches?

Just like in horror movies, my cell phone battery died
and they cut the electricity. My mom warned me
about canceling my land line telephone.

They work as a team.
They work at their full potential.
They don’t threaten and they don’t rush.

Their bags overflow with lock picks, files. Useful
for breaking out of prison, useful
for breaking into my house.They are prepared.
Not like me. Are kitchen knives the best I can do?

Every window shattered, but the bars keep them out (mostly).
Black leather gloves help speed filing.

A brown boot tried to climb down my chimney while I fumbled
with newspaper shreds and matches.
After I lit the fire, he sent birds (Chimney Swifts?).
They ignored me, just flew out the holes in the windows.

He collected a bucket of water to bring up to the roof.

Another works with a lockpick: a mouse scratches
inside my deadbolt.
Is a wedged chair beneath a doorknob a proven technique?

A man digs in the crawspace under the porch,
then the basement.

A man pries off roof tiles. They shatter like flowerpots
on the driveway.

I hear everything through my empty windows.
Should I start setting traps a la Kevin McAllister?

I pace
the hallway.

I must have counted wrong—a man files at every window.
Scratching from inside the walls.

I crouch in the closet with the flimsy unlockable door. It is dark
behind the coats, but I close my eyes.

 

~

 

The Poem(’s Assistant) is Present

My poem has been naked since 1973. My poem tied herself to another poem for a year. My poem masturbates under the
floorboards of the museum, her voice miked, makes comments about the patrons walking above her.

My poem sits at a table and stares into the eyes of anyone sitting opposite her, for as long as they want to stay. There are
some questions about how my poem holds her pee for 8-10 hours straight during the performance. Her seat has a hole in it
just in case, but she promises that she won’t use it. My poem’s assistant (me) swears she never used the hole in the seat.

My poem’s assistant helps her in and out of her performance gown. During the performance, my poem’s assistant paces
back and forth looking at the line of suspicious people waiting to sit with my poem. She guesses which museum patron will
try to distract my poem, to attack, to upstage.

My poem’s ex boyfriend said: “Recently I decided that whenever I meet someone, I should introduce myself as ‘Water.’
Think of it: our brains are about 90 percent water, our bodies about 68 percent. Not even Waterman, simply Water: it
makes people curious, they say, ‘pardon?’ and I say again ‘Water.’”  My poem’s assistant and my poem’s ex’s assistant both
roll their eyes.

My poem’s assistant (me) holds her own phone and my poem’s phone at the same time, and seems to text on them
simultaneously.

My poem is passive to an audience that has access to 68 items, a gun a bullet. My poem’s assistant bought the peanut
butter when my poem ate exclusively peanut butter for 86 days.

James Franco goes to my poem’s exhibit and talks to other patrons about acting. One of the patrons asks James Franco:
“Are you an actor?” James Franco can’t believe he wasn’t recognized.

David Blane made the mistake of calling himself an illusionist so everyone thinks he is cheating during his endurance feats.
Everyone made fun of him when he passed out while trying to hold his breath for 8 minutes. My poem doesn’t make this
mistake.

There is an online support group for people who sat at the table across from my poem.

My poem’s assistant sewed a curtain that my poem could wear over her bare breasts. She invited people to put their hands
inside the curtain.

My poem’s assistant (me) shot my poem in her left arm.

My poem’s assistant tracked down a person who was qualified to plant grass into my poem’s back. My poem’s assistant
found someone to hammer nails into her hands and crucify her to a Volkswagen Beetle.

My poem wears crotch-less pants at the movie theater. My poem dresses as a museum tour guide and leads people around
on a fake tour of the museum. My poem drives a Citroen van around in a circle for 16 hours. My poem lived in that van for 5 
years. She stenciled the front window: “Art is Easy.”

 

~

 

Ted Hughes

Radiation is invisible, but you can feel it,
eventually. The air in the house
is foxish.

Someone died. Not me—I don’t remember killing myself
but I felt like a ghost.

My female friends in college promised ourselves,
of course we wouldn’t fall for a Ted Hughes. Beware
of large handsome men.

My Ted Hughes detector is faulty—my ex
was the Ted Hughesisest of all. He sockets Ted’s feral eyes.
A smirk is a type of muzzle.

I was oblivious,
but I kept writing funny poems
about cheating husbands. Ted Hughes never jokes.

I emphatically told my friends he wasn’t like Ted Hughes at all.
My friend said the secret is to find a man
no other women will attempt to steal.

My friends’ argument evidence: every Ted grows sideburns
that grizzle and grey.

A Ted Hughes always hates another Ted Hughes. Despises the smirk
he also displays. My Ted Hughes said Ted Hughes was responsible
for his wives’ deaths. Sneered at his interest in the occult. (I once caught him
looking up how to bring someone back from the dead.)

My Ted can ask a photo of Ted Hughes the hard question
but he can’t ask a mirror of Ted Hughes.

Why am I standing next to Ted Hughes in my wedding portrait?
Is he still poet laureate if he died of cancer but is still also alive?

My teeth hurt,
but there’s no mark
on his pristine cheek.

 

~

 


Silence House

My family tree
a sewed mouth, a miniature lip.
An un-blindfolded eye.
A dress.

Why don’t they include people’s hobbies
in the census? Why don’t they include the color
of a woman’s favorite dress?

What happened what happened what happened what happened what happened what happened what happened to Silence
House?

I want a different timeline—one where she is in the center.
I want a marriage certificate.
I want to measure the size of her vocal cords.

I’m from the future. Who is Us?
Who is Loveland? Who is Silence House?

The line I’ve been waiting in is 300 years old.

The rumor is Silence House opened Silence House:
similar to our modern day “Quiet Cars.” Outside it is
the usual puritan: nefarious brick. It is a scifi house on the inside. 
A bonnet is a kind of muffler,
a styled hairbun another soft layer.

My current family’s version of Silence House
still includes no talking. It is rude to interrupt
the television when it is talking. I don’t care

about the Captain, I don’t care
about the doctor, the motorcycle stuntman.
I only care about Silence House.

I need to know if a name can influence
a woman’s demeanor.
Every parent has a naming agenda.

A mute little girl?
A joke of a name?
A mostly shut door—just open a crack.

 

________________________________________________

Valerie Loveland is the author of Reanimated, Somehow (Scrambler Books). Her poetry has been featured in Dzanc Books
Best of the Web and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. She enjoys running, audio poetry, and open courseware.