Alyssa Nickerson was born in Vancouver, Canada, and currently resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she studies writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has been published in Word Riot, Counterexample Poetics, Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, and other journals, including winning Editor’s Choice at Camel Saloon.
Abscond with me
to those states of stupor
aligned on the cusp of dawn,
where you answer
the vaudeville babble
of seashore with makeshift
riddle snatched from a poet
society will overlook.
Let your heels slap the pavement
like an invitation to a duel.
Forget the nagging constants,
the see-saw whining of
emotion between ribs.
it is not the death
of light which haunts you.
It is not silence, but a
that knots sheets at base of bed;
that ties thighs to headboard
with burn-pocked bandanna
& sings nervous litanies
in whispered slang;
that flutters in your periphery,
arriving softly as buckskin
& lace to settle beneath
skin like a worn lover.
It is your indecision
that knocks fabled egg from
fence, a fallow comprehension
of miracle and madness.
It is a stalwart devotion
to choice, half-invented,
that slips about your neck
& collapses Orphic logic
like a young man’s pride;
only anxiety can flood
your skull with reverie
(in the hope of drowning
more than time).
Capulet’s Coffin, Pre-Composed
There’s a frigid force behind your directionless escapades.
A tidbit of scheme, malice, design – the manufactured magnanimity folded
in your filed pleats fills the aisles. Unintentional and partial, a tepid following haunts
the forked riverbed. Review the ruckus rendered less candid by purposeful distance.
Part man, part deity – hands melded to guitar and grilled cheese (unmade) –
shakes grace from cacao mane (perched haphazard, poignant in silhouette pose).
A debonair allegiance to ambivalence invokes exotic penumbras like inverted dust;
an innate tattoo to recycle a breath spent sucking on pleated flesh.
Tongue flicks itself over and under frills and folds,
through feral forest, the dry pine needles
now faded to shades of cinnamon.
Don’t believe me yet, but you (as curator) held quite a stash of cures.
I saw your sinews shake.
I made your muscles grind, boy.
I filled your taut latex flesh until it could hold
no more rapture. And I saw those vibrations too,
the undulation absent only from boudoir eyes.
I savored the tip-tap-flicking of your avid
tongue and I tasted with relish (eventually devoured)
the slightly-curdled effusions you allowed escape.
I saw things you perhaps did not see – or saw and abandoned:
a capacity for genuine love, or at least
an honest and aimless devotion –
these things you cast aside
like half-used condom, clammy
as neurotic’s palms and pockets.
I saw truth, as I am wont to do.
Muse, we both knew your prerogative
or the inquiry would not have halted
hands given to demons at will of impulse
and idiotic lust. I see myself now a whore. Used.
A one-night-stand? A filthy concept. An inspiration
left unanswered – unpenned, unpinned, unexcavated or even
explored. An instinctive call to intrigue, insidiously ignored.
Don’t believe the wayside advice;
most of all, that bullshit about epiphanies.
Say what you will about elegance, their poise, and that
elusive element of denied perfection –
results of expanding an all-too-enlarged mind.
found ecstasy fades in a flash,
like Superman in a cage
with nothing left to do but masturbate
to thrice-folded photographs of nymphettes
who laugh at your sacred curves and protrusions
(sweet to taste, with afterglow of tired resignation).
Promise me anything, so long
as the layers keep peeling
like the skin on your swimmer’s body –
I could not forget! Such sensation, the tickling
thought-trains, the trite terms entertained for not long enough.
I saw things worth a glance, worth a fevered fumbling fuck or two,
and I will, in cyclical nature, see more than I should.
More than you believed I was worth, more than the lies
you spewed in ink (a melody I mistook for mine).
In that, I saw the absurdity of naked confession booths
and polygraph ribbons hanged by your inexplicable trills
and the rhythm you cannot yet decipher,
a less vapid way with words.
I see now your affinity for duplicity.
I saw revolutions
you will never ignite.
do not scuffle in polar directions,
mark continents with weary
wary of the blows
beneath clothes and caps,
words are hanged-men:
verbs are strung
like spoiled fish – hooked
in arid, unsalted vapor –
or slaves distilled
from dank seas.
(for Matthew Cahn)
The essence of ethos
or ethers uncoiled - taught
minds teach flesh to sway and shroud,
taut over winding sinews.
The ambrosial ambivalence
whispers like waves and weavers
on voicebox loom.
and stick in periphery, satiated
and stained with sympathetic
Ions fly in the spatial
interim, lofted in impulse –
by static endorsements– we
issue verbs, humbled and askew,
skewered in (gasp) and
stewed in pronoun.
I hollow tenses.
You hum as you hover.
We huddle as lovers,
haggle and hush heaving honeydew lust.
(shutters of slammed saloons shudder:
give way to careless querier, the intangible courier
of creak, squeak, and quiver. // oh, what tales trip
tick, trick, and tickle – trick l i n g into
tremulous presence, to be told?)
Prose pawns phantom phrasing,
punts penance to paper and pauper.
Sophist solipsism begets such
sopping, sloppy soliloquy.
I expose myself
to pentimento as you
rapt and wrapped in twine
and prized textile.
fondle your seams.
acute inhalations slither
over and above
these seconds also
to h e s i t a t e (?)
(a tapestry boils, bumbles, fumbles with states of completion.)
Do you shoot straight pool, mister? Not if I can help it.
And so it is this way, as I
surmised along the lines.
A kind of slang, a strut, a slip
of tongue to existential object –
but how quick, how quaint,
how juvenile my words become
as I lisp and loll toward confidence
as I vie for a shot
at your spotlight!
At present, my foolish
suicide. I could still
train my speech to stay
the course of your syllables,
learn to veil the lightning winding
down my spine, learn to hide the muscle-
unwrapped by phrase
(as if tectonic sex could rouse us yet!)
like I said, I play the fool
these days, and you the poet.
I felt the soft graze of wheat or corn.
You knew it never mattered
which: just a ruse to frame your form
with touch – a frivolous
sensation – an embarrassing thought -
and focus falls
upon the scapegoat sting
of spice staining my lips
where you left me stripped
to the elements,
laid bare with the clatter and sandpaper
slats of slammed saloon doors - an attempt at vogue, while
intramural currents collide like mice in deadwood,
the hallway done up like Escher whore – acid-head
red and winding significance hints
at something hidden in the floors. We both know
the rules of the crossroad, the cryptic limericks written in the cache
memory of sunken
bridges, the prophecies and panicked energy that floods my body like some Delphic gift, unwanted and untold.