Originally from Pennsylvania (U.S.A.), Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches
in Rochester, New York. Author of Like Stardust in the Peat Moss (Aldrich Press), her
recent poems have appeared in Word Riot, A-Minor Magazine, One Throne, Amethyst
Arsenic, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, Rust + Moth, and
elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific
The doves have returned to coo & I am remembering morning, am remembering when you rose into ether. Now, anti-matter, that invisible whispering, slickens & sheens. In a certain slant of light, feathers emit shimmered oil purple as midnight's blooming bruise. When I need to unbutton the relief of your leaving, I recall Houdini escaped from traps with nothing but a thin pin hidden underneath a straitjacket's sleeve. Magicians. Always finishing with a flourish of birds. They open the emptiness of a vacant box & watch the swoosh of white flapping to escape an anti-trap. To click open the lid & lock, the cuff & chain you slipped so smooth over skin resilience was only a small name folded into tongue trick. I still have the box of papers, creased ticket stubs, a silver lighter engraved with a ladybug near the bottom, for luck, you said, a tiny thing, speckled like an egg near the bonsai key-chain, emblems of small obsessions, bottle caps from breweries you drank the summer I wanted this absence, slippery as anti-gravity, empty as my bed was meant to be nights I promised no one visited & the illusions fluttered from the wings of my throat to set themselves free.
The Tree's Epitaph
First light rising. Up above the tireless straining an infinite stretch. So many fallen. So many fell and fought and against their own falling failed.
She said I think it's you and me. He lit the tip of a filtered cigarette as she lifted into sunbeam. Just look at that snubfingered messenger boy. One plus one is three. It is He Who Is AlwaysCarving.
Growing up is also a growing into. It's like they say: location, location, location.
See: Anthracnose. Amillaria. Canker. Commandra. Cronartium. Diplodia. Elytroderma.
Listen: Polyphenol Oxidase. Methyl Jasmanate. Aldehyde. Epicormic.
Reach: Byrsonima. Calocedrus. Clethra. Arborea. Khaya. Liriodendron. Jacaranda.
Is voltage. Is volatile. Is locus and fulcrum, compartmentalized. Speech is sound is noise is nothing is. There were days of whalesong horsehoof softpaw before and after quadruped then bipedal animal animal animal animal a
wet rot. A fire incinerator. A coal and caulk and stone and drift and past the post the positing of position the wind is a whipping of.
Time is the last axe.
Failing even falling our own fought against the many. Stretched the infinite straining tirelessly. Up above, the rising light is always first.
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