An Exercise in Emmy Hennings
[based on Emmy Hennings, 1918, photograph]

       The whole arena is wet with her. Patience, ladies.

       There are only so many ways to approach a desk.

       Step One: hover Step Two: curve your body into

       a circonflexe. Say it: Every desk is a precipice.

       Say it: The avenue is dark with flowers. Say it:

       In the daisy-shade Emmy curls her edges, a love

       letter never sent. So what next? If Eden is equal

       parts wicker and unrest, who is this woman,

       her mouth a glove, silk and smearing us? Why

       does she hide her body behind the chutzpah

       of wood cleft? Is this what we fought for?

       Another way to bury our bodies? Another

       hour behind bold patterns wood weft?

       Do not be a stranger to Emmy. Do not

       confuse her fountain pen for a flag, her

       eyes for a net. Say it: this desk is a diary

       private as the hole sunk peg and Emmy

       is writing her myth in 4 x 4s and cherry

       legs and only another woman could see her

       as severed, the desktop a stopper, not lever,

       her fingers lost forever to the glitz of her head.

Ode to My Far-Off Son

       Buggy, in the end, you will blame my body.
       The bourbon dip of my skin will simmer
       into a stew of armpit juice, my torso once
       tucked full of you, will fester, its opus of
       flab, a sudden wound. I have not bought

       the vanity where you will find me chipping
       the crust of blood from my pubes or gained
       the glossy backfat your friends will stare at
       as I stand, a kerfuffle of remotes in hand,
       yelling to turn off the cartoons. You are the char

       of this fire, my fondant forged in flame,
       and I just want to cast my hand along
       the spark and gristle of your body
       before it bursts, to feel the open shutter
       of your mouth as its shaved from shale to ash,

       yes I know, I’m the reason you have to go
       through all that. I’m just not sure how to cover
       up the bruise my mother left when she undressed,
       each stretch mark a violet unscrewed. Buggy.
       I don’t want to do that to you.

       So let’s build a curtain for every fetid freckle.
       Let’s quilt a cover for every tooth. Let’s fish
       for smoke and vial and vial the dew – anything
       to contain me, to gutter the shame taking root.

Alexa Doran is a mother, a lyrical gangster, and a PhD candidate at Florida State University. She has work forthcoming in Guernica, the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Mom Egg Review, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. Web