Online Exclusive

Three Poems
Counterfeit Clarice Last­ Lispector

We turn the floodlights on the actors, extras in one of the world’s great short stories, surprising them mid-escapade, nocturnal animals caught playing dress up with our clothing, our fanciest possessions. Pearl choker on a possum, suit jacket on a raccoon. A skunk, a lynx, two tubby foxes moonlighting as twin nephews or as young men dating our daughters. How is it that standing beside a skunk in a man’s shirt vest, holding a buggy bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace to her throat, the possum manages to look haughty, even with those beady red eyes? Hey, that’s my mother’s apple seed necklace and that’s her charm bracelet with a silver hula dancer with swaying hips, and, Elizabeth, that’s your mother’s last watch!

Garage floodlights ablaze, twelve apostles dine on a long table that appears to be a closet door supported by sawhorses in a formal space, like a rented banquet hall at the VFW. Caught red-handed in the act of pretending they are us, in costume, at a picnic table of a table, in a Biblical scene set in Brazil. Startled, they hold poses, but insolently! Those eyes on the possum glint like rubies, and no one has a kind thought toward another. All turn inward, spiteful, sarcastic, jealous, resentful. Though one of us, maybe me, maybe you, maybe the neighbor with trash spewed along his driveway, is prepared to forgive.


They hold those poses until the wine not really wine is served & the beautiful fruits and vegetables are examples of providence, served with the allegorical dessert, the undeserved kindness and generosity of a needlepoint of wheat sheaves. With phrases like pineapples malignant in their savagery, calm and orangey oranges, the fish stretched out and watchful like a silvery saint and those masochistic grapes! Most of all, it’s about the bread in this story, those loaves and scones and crumpets, those rolls of transfiguration. A goblet tips over, crumbs race across the tablecloth, melted wax leads to a still life already spoiling in this climate, all the choices we made are rusting. Because how long since we left our seat at the table?


Rhetorical Invention at the Poll

Mister X and the Dream Blog
is also called “Portrait of a Monk Getting New Idea.”

Black hairs sprout from chin.
Spanish moss on the side of tarred telephone pole

where a message has been stapled, a poster:
need roommate, need a new religion

he reads with bloodshot eyes.
A title: Going Public, or Publicity,

A theme: a religious treaty, a lost cat.
Standing behind him is a demon

who wears a necklace of micro aggressions,
a past critic on standby power, vampire power,

a phantom or ghost load of leaking electricity,
a glowing civilization in the valley ahead,

a troll farm.


Portrait Surrounded by Fictional Elements

The scream bubble, broadcast bubble,
icicle bubble, the he said/she said,
the closed-captioned and the whisper
balloon, a light bulb balloon,
thought balloons striped in emotional colors,
green envy, red rage, blue serenity:

Dog-eared conversations like the copies
of National Geographic and Reader’s Digest
with curled corners in the magazine rack
as fireplace is repeated like a brick
and the wood paneling is drawn in with a
subject-verb-object sentence, followed by
a braided rug that wanders in circles.
Amateur paintings of deer and a beige mountain
over which an umlaut cloud passes.
Plot wise, Did something awful happen
in this pine green Lazy Boy in this hunting lodge?

Nothing so awful as not bothering to know each other.
Not visiting, even at the corner of death.
Meanwhile a voice drips from a faucet
in an otherwise industrial kitchen
and the salmon pink sentence, doe brown sentence,
moose gray sentence, the duck, the loon sentence,
the coyote and fox sentence, loop around this room,
avoiding corners, a meaningless border.

Recently appointed New Hampshire Poet Laureate, Alexandria Peary is the author of six books, including The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil) and Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge). Her TEDx talk, "How Mindfulness Can Transform The Way You Write," is available here.