Poetry: Allison Peters



When I was ten I worried about my British accent,
how I needed a bra, desperately, &
about writing poems about writing poems,
rhyming stare & chair. Flynn was right
about ten-year-olds: that they should stick
to cartoon physics & not worry (why worry?)
about death or falling.
The trouble is there’s trouble:
even ten-year-olds know gravity exists
& they know better than to jump off cliffs.
Good thing twenty-year-olds can leap
so fast & far, as to beat gravity up
& down in all its verticalness,
as to know two-tenths is the same as one-fifth
of two poisons that aren’t supposed to mix—
but twenty-year-olds anyway drink
fast & they drink far. He never mentioned that
double-decaded crowd, but Flynn was
right about the kids cocooned in cartoons,
the ones that know what’s up
Doc & what’s down.
If twenty is this bad, and if
ten was just an accident, how
will thirty pan out? Like Sylvia?
She tried it thrice. Once she got it right.
She liked water & words,
liked making big, furious sounds, but was never much
of a physicist. Maybe she thought
the cartoons were real. Mad women are hysterical.
Nick, here I am in the middle:
between those kids who believe only what they see but dare
not apply it after one broken bone & Sylvia,
dead already, now long ago. How
am I neither of them? Did I never watch
Saturday morning cartoons?


While touching myself tonight my mind twisted
from sweet lovely thoughts of you & soothing music
suddenly to a daydream of me slicing my wrists,
making candy canes of my pale white arms with
a bright orange box-cutter. A violent
color, orange. What a notion. But so comfortingly odd
feeling that sharp blade, which can quickly cut
through layers & layers of packing tape on
hard cardboard, rip through my flesh, severing
my veins like a mediator: break it up, come
on, break it up, you two. You’re wondering,
now, aren’t you? Did I get off? Well, I assure you, it was
the Neutral Milk Hotel & those melodies—but, oh, I
did breathe the deepest final orange sigh.

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