Ivy Alvarez’s two poetry collections are Disturbance (Seren Books, 2013) and Mortal (Red Morning Press, 2006). With fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden Castle and Fundacion Valparaiso, her work appears in journals and anthologies in many countries and online, including Poetry ReviewPoetry Wales and Best Australian Poems (2009, 2013), with selected poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Her website is ivyalvarez.com

………………….

The farmer’s wife

Always fire is with me.
Around my head a halo of smoke.
I can never be clean.

The pigs leer like he does—
the sow pregnant with knowledge.
Her pink teats loll,
her eyes, small beads.
I slop her food.
She shows her teeth.

The trees whisper like gossips.
I will never be warm.
All the time, the wind—
It fingers through the cracks.
My lungs slowly fill with soot.
My tongue the taste of ash.

………………….

The Wicked Stepmother

………………….for Rachel R

It’s no secret—we never
got along, though I tried
to share everything with her—
my secret apples, my thorny
vexations. Now the punishment
for my loving grief, her father
my husband, god rest him,
god rot him. God got him.
Her husband did look at me,
twice. Felt guilt enough to shoe
my feet in iron, did bid me,
did command, Dance,
dance until I burn,
burst, my feet twin suns, my flesh
charred, my head, hair on fire,
my face powdering to ash,
the last hot breath on my neck whispering
I am forever
beautiful.

………………….

S

shaw:

………………….we could seek our way out
………………….find berries to eat
………………….learn about dock and nettle
………………….hold chestnuts in our shirts

shea:

………………….my hands, softer than butter
………………….the slippery warm squirm in the plunge

shealing, sheal:

………………….all the heat goes up
………………….sleep in each other’s warmth
………………….hide from all that’s dark

shears:

………………….a yard of flannelette turns into
………………….a pair of pyjamas
………………….a magic I took for granted

sheet lightning:

………………….someone keeps turning on the lights
………………….I see trees whipped by water

shin:

………………….the gash at five…………….shrunk to a flat scar
………………….I wonder what all the fuss was about

ship’s-husband:

………………….paces from fore to aft
………………….notes each breach and hole
………………….never goes ashore

 

What Vivien Leigh Dropped

Larry’s Hamlet; I mouth Ophelia.
He stops, makes me check our hamper for spiders,
memorabilia, fruit, wine. How asinine. Now his monologue—
the boat rocks and he goes on
pulling those oars. Fiddle-dee-dee…

Peering over, I write Vivian Mary on water.
The lake feels bottomless from here.
If we tipped, we’d disappear, like stones.
I take an apple and consider it. —Ow! My tooth!
Something small falls in. Not to be outdone,
Larry yells about a splinter in his palm.
The pain’s woken us both.
What a pair we are. Look how far
the shore. And now we must row.

 

Gabriel

before I could even begin
he was telling me all I needed to know
water everywhere around us
salty and warm

he was telling me all I needed to know
month after month
salty and warm
I kissed my fingers

month after month
I sucked my thumbs
I kissed my fingers
like coral growing bit by bit

I sucked my thumbs
he talked me through it
like coral growing bit by bit
fed me all the secrets I needed

he talked me through it
just before the human door opened
fed me all the secrets I needed
he held my face in one hand

just before the human door opened
staring into my eyes
he held my face in one hand
as he touched his finger to my lips………………….hush

staring into my eyes
everything rushes out
as he touched his finger to my lips………………….hush
nothing remains

but the small indentation
above my lips

 

Come vile with me and be my vole
…………..with apologies to Marlowe and thanks to James Midgley

Come vile with me and be my vole,
And we will all hues prelates prove
That vale sly groves, shill and fields,
Woods or tee spy anoint um yields.

And we will tis upon the corks,
Genies the shred hep feed their flocks,
By hallows’ rivers to flawless oh,
Oiled sumo birds disarming gals.

And I will make thee sob-fed roses
Sand a handout of rips tanagers,
A waffler’s coop and a kilter
Orb remedied all with flyleaves metro;

Awed mango of the filet swoon
Which from marble story put we pull;
A rifled piner slips for the cold,
With belchéd gutters opus folk;

A batter’s flow bis navy dud,
A bacchanal tromps swirléd studs:
And if a steeple’s usher may thee move,
Come vile with me and be my vole.

The shaped wren’s hiss shall cad senna ding
For hid thy gelt each yam morning:
If deed seething shimmy myth a volt,
Then vile with me and be my vole.

 

Appellant

Have they opened much too wide and caused offense?
Must they be wired shut to save me?

Will they fall out, heedless like a tongue,
greedy for so much and so much?

Why do you take notes, my pulse, my blood?
There’s something else you know.

What do I know of safety
or even about what’s good for me?

When did I last use them for kissing,
to signal my presence against another’s skin?

Why must they be the most offensive part of me?
Where does it say I talk too much?

I know what my lips can do
when there’s never enough of you.

 

Precatio contra violo

Lord, give me strength to lie down with the lion, suffer his talons to pierce me, rip me to shreds. Let me endure it to the end. Let Thy bright needles stitch me together again, even as I fracture and crack. Let him not attack my dog — I cannot bear it. She whines and whines in the corner of the room. My cries distress her. I cannot help it. The old sofa enfolds my body. His mangy mane tears my neck. The drip of rank meat, his muzzle, his back-barbed tongue: red. He led me to the back of the car, Lord. He pressed me upstairs, a tied scapegoat. He put a pill into my fizzing coke. He held my throat. I wanted to live, Lord, so I reached inside myself and switched off. And the drug took hold. I slipped on the linings of coats. I slipped on the road. My poor, holy dog. I fought with myself. I opened my chest, disembowelled and spilled. The dark was a carcass a lion dragged in. He slipped in my blood. I could cauterise the dark. The needles were white-hot, though I held on to me shrinking infinitely to a line in the road. My world is burning up, Lord, and I with it.

***

All of these poems have previously been published. My sincere thanks to Ivy for sending me these amazing poems and allowing me to republish them on here.

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