The weather’s moody as a middle-schooler—storm and chill, then unexpected warmth. Unsure whether to hunker down or pack a picnic lunch, we ride the wave, pretending it’s a “normal cycle” that will right itself in the end. What season’s this supposed to be? my daughter asks. Sometimes disaster happens for no reason we can predict. The car’s brakes fail, the baby’s heart stops beating during birth. Other times the future’s obvious as car exhaust against torn sky. Still, we’re all tired of the polar bear on her melting raft, wide-eyed and white as a bride. Holland’s been preparing— building roads that rise when the dikes break. Here politicians spoon smooth lies into our eager mouths. What will we tell our children as earth blares her angst, and we have no dikes, no Watcher, Dreamer, or Sleeper to keep the water-wolf from our door?
originally in To See What Rises (CW Books, 2023)
If you lack character, lean on money. Homeless folks lack the hygiene of money. Wendy O showed her nipples, grabbed her crotch, licked a sledgehammer. Said, What’s obscene is money. One sister got soft being loved. The sick one craved pity. The third grew mean from money. Stop drinking, cut carbs, sweat in saunas, juice kale. You can’t get clean from money. Scrambling, hungry, poor from birth. Too many live under the guillotine of money. Not the chartreuse of sunlit leaves, turquoise of Florida waves. His eyes were the green of money. More ego-boosting than sex, a stronger upper than amphetamine—money. A tunnel, then light, at the start. Thickening dark at the end. In between—money. Scarier than vampires or demons, he dressed on Halloween as money. Vital to a baby, milk. To a child, love and play. To a teen, money. Shame worms nibble my life, won’t let me forget what I’ve done and been for money. Loving it’s the root of every evil, Chaucer said. There’s no vaccine against money. Though he begged, Stay the night, Alison, he had no books, just one magazine—Money.
originally in Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2016)
I knew what was coming. He’d pawned the stereo, sold Mama’s rings. Slave to the twist in his guts, the insatiable craving. What chance did love have? Seen through pain-mad eyes, I wasn’t even real. The first one was a fisherman—sour beard, wide-knuckled hands. I left my body behind. Again and again Father sold me, stuffing the cash in his coat and rushing off to feed, while I prayed myself into a mare or bird. Each time I swore would be the last. I heard the ocean’s call, planned to leave at dawn. I couldn’t run. Daughter-training tethered me, my devotion limitless and futile as his struggle to be full.
originally in Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2018)
©2023 Alison Stone
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…has published seven full-length collections, Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020), Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award.