Jacqueline Lalley Poems




Alternatives to War


With the war on the other side of the world,

I sometimes wonder if I should be taking pictures

of these cherry blossoms. Signet khaki helmets

versus the crush on the flower vendor, or just

the orange jumpers of the workers studying

burn rates over a brush pile thatís just exhausted

this morning. Rough red strawberry hands

and aspen pulp. When you need misery,

thereís always a dog. My sisterís lover buried her heart,

then got so scared he dug it up. I just canít help

myself, the flower guyís mums are so luscious

and devoid of thought and language.

But there are old red-handed men and pits

with nothing to do with brush. And women

who get turned on at hardware stores and

ticker tape parades. Two men turning in

their guns for cribs. Bombs locate intended targets

with aplomb. Across the world, itís true,

but in this world a good dog demonstrates

precise destruction if ignored. Perhaps thatís why

he left my sister like he did? In fifty million petals,

on the phone where nobody could see?

Not those with children and bad backs, at sunrise

laying hay for feral cats. Itís easy to perceive the escalation

over 7 years: a single mother, 420,000 kittens,

the war on the other side of the world.





Secretariatís Heart


You say you were in the shower

when I called; that was some

kind of hint. You like

things that march on,

disciplined as water.

Look at all these hotbloods.

Did you know Secretariatís heart

was three times larger

than that of any other

racehorse? My heart

is cramped inside

this cheap suit, hopeful

I will be your clod. It beats

away when trampled

tickets lead me on until

the final digit. Nobody

is any different. We all

put our legs on one pant

at a time, scrape four legs

across the dingy floor

and fall down heavy.

The difference, like I said,

is I believe that even if

my workdayís wasted,

Suzy Creek Slewís wonít be.

Hey, itís nice to be here with you

though the rain is making

all the horses slow and sloppy.

Would this be a good time

to ask you to hold me

upside down, watch me turn

from cane to rain protection,

all my iís turn into exclamation

points? Iíll lose and lose, but

reliably, strong as a pencil stub.

If you were looking for losers

less than savory, youíll find me

a seasoned lover. But if I said,

donít fall in love with me,

would it be over, all over?

Good, then, good,

Iíll say it, say it slower.





Jacqueline Lalley is a poet, humorist, and essayist whose work has appeared

The Onion, the Harvard Review, Court Green, Bitch Magazine, and other publications.


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