Backhanded if we sassed in childhood.
Diapered, drooling – Grandpa’s last childhood.
Holidays, we regress to The Weak One,
The Show-off. Roles cast in childhood.
Bare-chested, mud splattered, climber of hills.
Claimed, I’m queen! with the bombast of childhood.
The scent of Grandma’s stairs, our first dog’s fur.
Memories lodge in a room vast as childhood.
Present love or mistakes color flashbacks,
smooth out or blemish the past. Childhood’s
elastic, though to the victim or
outcast, failure seems forecast in childhood.
Show me yours; I’ll show you mine, but promise
not to poke the scars amassed in childhood.
In a flash, wrinkles, joint pain, gallstones, weight gain
replace skinned knees. Gone so fast, childhood.
Often I forget to notice the sky.
Why can’t wonder outlast childhood?
Next life, not Alison. Maybe a boy?
I want to have a blast in childhood.
What haunts you? What shapes appear in the dark?
What smell, whose face do you fear in the dark?
Families hide in light, in dollhouses and prayer.
Everything becomes clear in the dark.
Love begins with promises and flowers,
ends with slamming doors, a slap, tears in the dark.
You think the hunger is for food, for sex.
You blare rock, smoke, and drink beer in the dark.
Pomegranate. Lust. A mother made redundant.
A child held half the year in the dark.
Touch me when the lights go out. I only
open blind. I am freer in the dark.
Night is full of roads that lead to fences
hung with signs in blood: “Beware of the dark.”
A boat of bone, a murky lake. Your father
has the oars. You grab them but you can’t steer in the dark.
The past stands in front of you blocking the sun.
Your failures are stone gods that leer in the dark.
Egret on a busy street in Florida.
Closed shoes obsolete in Florida.
Yearly visits, I stayed in Mom’s shadow,
tried to hide from the mean heat of Florida.
Each avenue flatter than the next. For
my calves, walking’s a treat in Florida.
Bony, pregnant stray yowls, ignored.
Are animals just meat in Florida?
Far cousin to our dark ocean back home,
the minty sea of St. Pete, Florida.
Boyhood beaches, mango trees. For Dad,
no place can compete with Florida.
Though I try Polly, cracker, stone, the parrot
is stubborn or stuck. Repeats, Florida.
Alison Stone has published three poetry collections, Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin award. She is also the author of three chapbooks, including Guzzle (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), which consists entirely of ghazals. www.stonepoetry.org www.stonetarot.com