Alicia Hoffman (2 poems)
I Don’t Want to Grow Old and Die
My cats like jazz. They tend to prowl
around the saxophone on the speaker,
that sonorous drip and purl. Right now,
they pounce onto each other, skip quick
into the other room before flopping
belly down on the brown kitchen tile.
I do not want this poem to be about me,
or my inability to express what I want.
I want to eat and eat. I want to expunge
the world’s disasters. I want to love
so closely it ends in devourment. Yes.
Let us enemy the real killer in the room.
Let us slash the blade across that apocryphal
throat. In this room, there are only rubies.
In this stanza, the claws come out. We
all know there is safety in numbers,
that innumerable cliché, but there is also
safety in slaying this fake play, like the toy
mouse the big tabby one is destroying now
on the carpet, stuffed with a little bell inside,
small warning this might be alive. The obvious
parataxis is imminent. Of course, I don’t want to
grow old and die. I don’t want to leave this sentence,
this beautiful yard, prison where even wildflowers
grow from the crumbling seams and animals crawl
like an alphabet through the small spaces till I crack.
No Proper Animal
I remember Guantanamo. Fox News
at my parents’ house, smoke rising
from the grill. Nothing is ever here
until it is. After, the stakes, higher
then the crows long soar into
the northeastern park, a remedy
for all the spaces it has lost, are
apparently changing, and here,
no one knows the rules to the game.
When I sat at the table, I trusted
the officials. When everything is
ephemeral, who am I to blame?
Last night, a black cat crawled
across the car I haven’t started
in fifteen days. Yes, I do wonder
if the engine works. I wonder
at our immediate exhaustion.
Cables tied and untransmittable
in this heat and stink. I find myself
looking up the antonyms for cyclical.
For rain. Every recourse an atom, re:
imagining. Did you know one lone moth
developed is an imago? But a whole train
of them is a landscape unbecoming? White
knights of armageddon, do you witness
the sleeve pulled quick from the elbow
of the beautiful girl in the corner? As
the ship’s masts sail, bound towards
another unknown coast, do you herald
the time, the luxury of oil, and the salt?
Orange slick, a rind upon on my table.
Tell me, now that you have become
my only brother, where do you wish
to port to? How do you expect a drink?
Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Author of two collections, her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Radar Poetry, A-Minor Magazine, The Penn Review, Softblow, The Watershed Review, Rust + Moth, Glass: A Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Find her at: www.aliciamariehoffman.com.