the poetry that matters

Alyssa Nickerson

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.


Escape Plan


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.


You see:

            it is not the death

            of light which haunts you.


It is not silence, but a

brutal                           ambivalence

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.


We know:

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.





   the    intricacies

of pungent

formal speech.            


remain omnipotent.



do not  scuffle             in polar directions,

mark continents                       with weary

anthropological toes.


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.


we appear

            with unfashionable




(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.


                        Lips part

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

detect              braids

            rapt and wrapped in twine

and prized                   textile.


                        willow-bark fingers

fondle your seams.


acute inhalations slither

            over and above


epithelial          silks.






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

                                    or consequence,

                                                                                    as I vie for a shot

                                                                                    at your spotlight!


At present, my foolish

trajectory shudders,

            screen-bound toward

            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.




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                                                                                                                   August 20, 2013