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ALICE

by Erika Ostergaard



Alice is
the cream of the outback
curdled

no one came from Alice
every one came to Alice

half left again
immediately after

Alice is
harsh enough
to keep itself exclusive

those who stay are
half clocked in the head already

She heat-bakes ’em silly
stockholmes
’em down

leaving Alice
celebrated
don't talk to the escapee

they’d come to visit
and love what killed ’em
ever more





CONTROL


In one hand was a man’s white undershirt, u-necked, in the other a man’s white undershirt, v necked. You'd said, Those shoes look uncomfortable, would you like to change? You asked, Which? I thought carefully. Which one one wouldn't show my interest. I saw the one I wanted right away. White v neck, you asked. White v neck, I affirmed.

Feinting to the bathroom, holding your clothes, you spoke through the door, your voice plywood-close. Leaning across my walkway. Tall and backlit.

In our witless three years of aquaintainceship nothing interesting has happened. And I had you already, had no need for more of you. We continued talking, I don’t remember most of it, but I know each of us pressed into arms of the couch, as far from each other as possible—hard to get, you know.

Once, last spring, you walked me home. I don’t like the main streets, you’d said. Confront your fears, I’d said, look! that tree is fuzzy, those shutters are chartreuse, that bird may die. You laughed and shook your head, lost. I need someone who won’t take my shit, you’d said; implying I was right for the job. I’d tossed that idea right in the gutter with some premature pine cones.

Now I know your house, I’ve been here many times. After all this time, and all my forgetting, you’re beckoning me with something unusual. Slow, strong and invisible.

Then you pulled out a big gun: the introvert I’d wrecked—from economics, remember? I spoke of him without mercy, for you. His nervous virginity and beret. That kind of control over a person makes you crave it, I said. You nodded.





THEY MADE ME EAT SNAKES AND TOLD ME SPACE DIDN’T EXIST


Mister, Mister!

Scream us to believers!

Zipper up a leather belief in white, white life and stun us to follow. Your shiny suit makes the help-hungry fingers, reaching, slide right off as you stride forward with all conviction. A heavy foot at a time toward your choir. A springy arch at a time under your big top. Tubas umpah the time of your ticks.

Please please please bring us...
            Please please please lay down your hands...
                        Please please please bake us a time where our arthritis will blow away with the
                                     ghosts
                                                 demons
                                                            gobblers
                                                                        —all the voices confess under stress you banish.


DISGUST


Planes only ever land
with what's taken
at launch.

So a voice,
boil-jam-packing
the pre-pressured oxygen
with trash will make nothing
but the anger of some combustible

plastic cabin, plastic air, plastic coffin tray
plastic exhalation out from your assigned seat
and into my lap. Rustle of life yet trashed.

It just falls out of your mouth—
a tongue-opened slot—
like so many coins,
fakishly red,
compact-stacked,
safe in a beloved casino.

We're in this together, and this
plastic knife
won't finish your jugular

If only they made ’em
tiny for your pocket,
tiny for cramping
into a flight-ridden life.





THE STILL


Bodies are fleshy tubes. Walkable, propable, procreatable tubes.
Every surface is specific to soaking and breaking down;
all the membranes are moist; all secretions—emulsifying.
Muscle is stratified squamous in oesophagus...
even the terms ooze with fluid dharma.

Foreign bodies in contact with any inner part will be
beaten, liquified and loved to new life...

Before taking liquor into my soft pink body, all the cilia,
all the feeling, absorbent fingers, stand up and sway like at a concert's finale.

With every mouthful, I hold the poison still
between my teeth and raise my tongue for a second
to grasp the damnable I'm imbibing,
and release to the care of
Oesophagus







Erika Ostergaard teaches English as a second (and usually third) language to K-12 students in rural Moldova (eastern Europe). Her poetry is published in small papers and magazines in West Virginia where she graduated from Shepherd University with an English Literature degree.





COMMENT        HOME       BLOG


New Poetry


ADAPTATIONS OF
COLOR THEORY
AND SIGHT
by
Margaux Griffith


ALICE
by
Erika Ostergaard


UNDERWATER
MEDUSA
by
Sara Swanson


THE LITTLE
THAT'S LEFT
by
Mark DeCarteret


ISSUE:
S P R I N G
2011

THE NEW
RULES OF
W R I T I N G

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