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.

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