Poetry Issue #42

Mother Darling Visits the States

By Alexa Doran


It’s not that the sky here isn’t blue
but that something has to asphyxiate to turn that hue.

I was so sure New England would fit like a skin… Read more

Image: “Style Central,”  by Leah Dockrill, collage on canvas,  12×12 in.  

Alexa Doran

Featured Poet

Mother Darling Smokes a Spliff

Ahhh. The jolt of my gender first – the spurt
                 of its outline firm, like the sudden seize

of puberty I swarm to re-learn my body,
to reinvent the prison-plex of my breasts,

                       to vogue below the mooncream
 of this London alley until I find

   the me who used to dream in doilies,
who hadn’t felt the zippered breath

of Wendy nest below her flesh. 
Let me feel the fake green felt 

       of the pool table scrape between my legs,
the spilled ale spit along my neck, 

          a pub-sawed man catch in the flurry
of my honey and web. Ahh.

  Inhale. Watch the cherry crest
as I smoke out my pre-Wendy self

        melonball all the parts of me
still stewing in amniotic scent

              and leave me to gorge and gorge
what’s left: a marsh of tongues

                 I once believed would learn the art
of luring air into breeze

but now lie dormant, a wet chorus
ready to be released.

Mother Darling Visits the States

It’s not that the sky here isn’t blue
but that something has to asphyxiate to turn that hue.

I was so sure New England would fit like a skin.

That here in the glacier pucker of Boston 
                             I would finally smooth the lumps

left by my children.
I thought God was going to loiter

                    around me like an armchair 
speak to me in pinstripe écriture

   engulf me in mohair. I thought a lot of things
         could happen 

if I abandoned London. But even the earth
has the weight of the sea to bear.

I know it’s silly to believe 
          New York City is some portal to the holy

that I might recognize Mary the way love
             recognizes heat, that she would not blush

if I asked how it felt to know Jesus
                                                  had to leave.   

Mother Darling Decorates the Christmas Tree

I always did have a thing for Kris Kringle.
                   Any man that can shimmy down a chimney 

and still be jolly at the bottom
                         is certainly worthy in my mind. 

                  Maybe that’s what happened to Wendy.

                 I keep looking to the sky, 
                           but she could’ve gone down the pipes, 

arrow set on city life – I know that kind of alive.
             Lately though… not to digress

but Father Darling has been celibate
                           since the children left, and I’m not sure

 where to bury all the energy 
                        that used to swell our sex.

                                  O this season of untucking,

 of unwrapping, of folds and folds!
                Let me rip through the crepe and uncover 

Father Darling’s tongue a-slope my toes.
         The tinsel a brittle glitter

   in the background as our bodies 
                      make smoke of the London snow.

How to make a magnet of the night 
                        to beam my beacon bright 

     enough to catch my husband’s attention 
                      or even my children?  Sometimes I think 

       I’ll find a note. Like under this paper angel’s skirt, 
                                        Wendy will have written Roses: Carolina

or Seahorse Smatter on the Sigh of the Horizon,
      or the boys will have slipped a hint in the wreath for Advent.

I can smell the Styrofoam of the angels

             they made as children, the glitter and the glue,
and the bobble of the haloed heads

                            as Father Darling’s breath met my mine 
                                                             in the evening’s residue.   

Mother Darling Joins Mum-Meet-Up Online

Two minutes in: an admin claims
                                she’s one fifth Evangelist.

            So I quit.
                       Belief is not a partial business.

  I think that’s what I miss most about my kids.
                                   They wanted to stampede Jesus. 

  Flock is such a soft word
                            for the fang stiff faith
                                       of the tiny and zealous. 

So why do the other mothers think I deserve this? 

Is it because I refuse to share my sadness?
             because I let willows bay

                                              the window bouquet and mascara
                                 still my cheek each Sunday?

I’d rather agonize to air. I need my grief
                                             to hang star-maimed and gaseous

             to drift along the light fixtures
                                              to bubble the chandelier.

  I so want to believe in this contingent of women –

                      to swallow them like bees
                             to gorge on their buzz / buck bilious

                                                   in the honey grip of their rhythm

             but I already know they can’t save me
                            can’t capture Wendy, Michael, or John

             so, I log out and let their voices lace in my wake

 let their absence hole another 
                         throat in the honeycomb I’ve built to shape

          the parts of me words will never taste
                                 each prism wax and roseate 

            as Wendy would be 
                                    pressed against dawn’s face. 


By Alexa Doran

Alexa Doran is a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby is forthcoming from Bottlecap Press, and her series of poems about the women of Dada, “The Octopus Breath on Her Neck,” is soon to be published as part of Oxidant/Engine’s BoxSet Series. You can also look for work from Doran in upcoming issues of Glass, FIVE:TO:ONE, Conduit, and Permafrost, among others.