Looking back: a year of poems and prose

Today marks one year since I began sharing my writing with you all, and for all the ink that I’ve spilled in this time, I can’t fathom a way to articulate how much these past twelve months have definitively shaped me as a writer. Over a hundred poems, one anthology, a scrapped forest of rough drafts, and a plethora of online encounters with fellow poets later, I’m really astounded by where this site has gone and I can’t wait to see what the coming years hold in store. Below I’ve amassed a few poems from the past year that hold particular resonance, and whether you’re reading them for the first or second time, thank you for sticking with me this far.

-M. Alden

Shoes

You can’t trust crazies with shoelaces
so we strung our feet together with zip-ties
And don’t let us get ahold of a spork
its prongs may bite at twitching wrists.

I didn’t have any shoes within regulation
(the buckles are almost as dangerous as sporks)
and my toes curled against the hospital-grade carpet
embarrassed to be so ill-endowed
of shoes, of sanity.

My mom wore sneakers just my size.
and quietly
her hands pulled the laces loose
through the parallel spaces
till they sat, two vacancies
for ten ashamed toes.

She pulled off her socks,
two cotton skins to keep me warm.

A nurse bent down
and looped a plastic chain
where the laces used to be.
I think her hands
were tender because she had seen
the procedural exchange,
and my mother walking away
with two buckles on her steady feet.


 

Gannet Hollow

A fire is still going, and burning up the roof
ashes drifting into our hair so we grow old
together, the way we always dreamed
coughing on ruined homes and
breathing in charred rainfall.

Dilapidated cabinets with rust-scabbed
hinges, cracked glass on the other side.
Empty fridge, barely cold.
Half-open pantry with your favorites
still stocked inside, stale and
molded. Still a feast if you eat it quick.

The stairs stained with dog piss and other
unnamable messes under my naked feet
bony rail creaking under my hand, the other
stuffed in my pocket, fingers cold because it’s full of holes.

I push open your door, pressing hard because the
other side is strewn with singed jackets and broken
picture coffins and half-torn smiles. Rumpled
green sheets with unutterable emptiness.
I breathe the moment you threw me down,
one shoe on, crumpled lashes, bra strap
hanging off my shoulder and asked me to stay.
I’m there on the carpet, taking off my
shoe and saying “okay”.

I think somewhere my phone is ringing. On the
bathroom counter, shivering on the marble
smeared with toothpaste and scum.
Blue October ringtone, the one you set
one morning when I wasn’t looking.
Is that you calling? You always said
it was always me.

I curl into your shadows and live a hundred days.
The ashes settle into my lungs.
Slowly the roof burns.


 

To the other end of 12 ‘o clock

It’s late, too late for young girls to walk dark sidestreets-
that’s what the man in the freedom-color police car tells you.
It’s a dangerous time to walk, pump gas, go for a jog,
a dangerous time to live- haven’t you ladies heard?
but the three of you are bold and raise your chins to the shadows.
You call attention to yourselves, the good kind that repels sidewalk monsters
belting middle-school punk anthems and cawing when the others make dirty jokes,
the whispered kind that no one expects Catholic girls to know.
You lose your breath looking at your friend’s moon-blue skin, and you think
she is goddamn beautiful when she’s fearless.

You have no reason to be out on the streets, but you want to kiss midnight
with an open mouth and taste his black secrets. You want to dance
with those honking drivers and toss your hair when you step on their sorry toes.
You want to sing along with the cricket-thrum and the screeching tires.
You want to conduct this moonside cacophony, and watch the world kneel down
as you yourself bow to the omnipotence of dawn’s aureate crescendo.


Fidelity

I still feel you and all your heat
and light, incandescent wonder
of your face proximate to mine,
tender bed of your chest praying
life into my breast.

I gave you every flame and grace
and traced your limbs with my
lips because dear God I love you,
love you as heliotropes yearn in
a virid stretch toward the efflorescent
cynosure of their existence
love you, you, you as an affront to every
cynicism and doubt transposed
by elders and faith and time.

And beloved, as the last star
sputtered into a frozen mass
as midnight wrinkled twilight’s perfect tapestry
while your shoulders heaved with
two shares of grief

I kissed the remnant light,
the pale strobe blessing
me with one more glance at
your silhouette fading,
earth glowing under your feet.

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3 thoughts on “Looking back: a year of poems and prose

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