In the moon’s shadow, find the mortar and pestle, the rabbit getaway. The house is the poison. Exhale the air. Stop drinking. Leave. Some say silly. No elixir of life here. Some say we’re more pest than pet, more cake than rice, more dust than vain. Some say pet-peeve. Others stewed. Some call us dog, hair of the dog, rude. Grab heels. Roll on crown. Feel the weight. Follow the flow of twist, lunge, plank, then nap on the floor like a rock. They gave us a name, invented us.
They want us to throw ourselves into the fire. Run.
— Laura Madeline Wiseman
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 26 books and chapbooks, include Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), twice nominated for the Elgin Award. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rose Red Review, Star*Line, Silver Blade, and elsewhere. Her latest book is Through a Certain Forest (BlazeVOX [books] 2017).
Editor’s Note: The image is of a wolf howling after the pack from a wallpaper site: https://wallpapercave.com/wp/jUr21IZ.jpg
Loneliness is a hunger that sours the gut—but when cupboards
hold only crumbs, a woman can endure the absence
of laughter bubbling, can usher small bodies away
from her hearth. What matters what we strew—
white pebbles, lentils, or bread crusts? Whose lives
are the better to starve or plumb on confections and cake?
Yesterday, I drew the paths to home in marzipan
and then ate until I ached. Why do I never feel full?
Gingerbread cookies, peanut brownies, another scoop
of ice cream—even sweets bitter the bored tongue.
These woods fill with hungry things like me, a want
that guides into the underbrush,
while I crouch in preoccupation—food or children? Another meal
for a woodcutter or the stepchildren? Birds flit. Some peck
what settles apath. Others stand as white beacons.
In our kitchen, we have an object like a cage,
iron whorled, big enough to crawl inside. I keep my books there,
close the door, pretend they’re simple recipes to guard.
Except you, no one sits to eat what I bake—slumped shoulders, the axe
beside the kitchen door. You rub the calluses on your hand,
lingering over the cracks. I bring you hot, sweet
meat pie, watch your mouthfuls, until you ask for more.
When you reach for me, I feel your bones—fingers, jaw,
knobby shelf of hips. Is there nothing to eat
out there in the forest? I murmur against your throat, At least we have this warmth. But then, that boy and girl call out demands—
for their own warmth to consume on the porch. Mother,
they say. I shudder, sense what starves inside their skin.
Their little hands, sticky fingers I am unable to bear.
But with you, I no longer ache. I’m like a vase of jewels
and stones. Pull out any rock and worry it. Place a pin at your throat.
Slide onto a finger a promise sure to soften and reshape with time.
Have you had enough yet? you ask. My answer is never,
but instead we kiss, our mouths sweet
with sugared tarts. In the morning when they’ve left
with the last of the bread, I hide your axe.
— Andrea Blythe and Laura Madeline Wiseman
Andrea Blythe and Laura Madeline Wiseman’s collaborative poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Devilfish Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Faerie Magazine, The Drowning Gull, Yellow Chair Review, Strange Horizons, Rose Red Review, and the anthologies The World Retold (The Writers’ Guild of Iowa State University, 2016), Red Sky: poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (Sable Books, 2016), Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press, 2017), and They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018).
Editor’s Note: The artwork is from a Russian site describing an open class in fine arts on a theme of “Houses for fairy-tale heroes” (the specific image is phpoPpyAD_Otkrytoe-zanyatie-domiki-skazochnyh-geroev_3.png)
To be honest, when you gave your trollish
roar last night, I wanted to place my fingers
over yours on the ignition and remove the
keys. When you doused the house with water,
spraying the walls of our kitchen and the
floors of the bathroom, I wanted to help you
down into the puddles and offer a nudge, as if
you might want to swim away. When you
tore all the old shingles from our roof and
kept going, opening our bedroom to moon
and sky, I left you up there and started
walking, your ancient song crooning through
the boughs. From our neighborhood through
the roads and trails, I cut across farmland
where the first green knuckles pushed from
soil. I walked and walked, then I found the
entrance to Trolland, the theme park of my
girlhood. I followed the blacktop to the train
station of candy, the boat ride that swayed as
if on swells, the log ride on aqua-dyed water,
and that spinning ride which stuck everyone
to the walls. I kept going, looking for roller
coasters, the sky lift, the striped pole that rose
to the night. Everywhere, were trolls. Trolls
sat on benches in lamplight, filled the tables,
and crowded the lines. Even if I wanted to
buy astronaut ice cream, the trolls stood
dozens deep with crisscrossed arms. I got in
line anyway. Then, a troll charged at me, one
with filigree tattoos. I backed against the faux
barbershop that sold rock candy. Sing bitch,
the troll said or maybe it was, Climb. I don’t
know. I found the pole and climbed the blue
rungs to the top—I’ve wanted to do this since
I was girl. There I found the firetruck ship, its
maiden face, and a moon with doll arms
holding the reins. She said, Join me, but there
wasn’t any place to sit. I must’ve jumped,
because when I land, I’m in bed beside you
again, your hand clasping my ankle. Above
us, the night flickers orange.
— Laura Madeline Wiseman
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks, include Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), twice nominated for the Elgin Award. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Silver Blade, and elsewhere. Her latest book is Velocipede. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com
tor’s Notes: The dreamy image of a girl praying in the clouds (static pexels, CC0) is enhanced by adding the moon and a surrealistic troll.
I already didn’t like our potential new father. Wolves didn’t like him either. He didn’t smell right, and I didn’t like how his beady dark eyes roved over me and my older siblings like pieces of candy.
Three thoughts crowded at the door of my waking mind. First was that the sun was streaming through a skylight above me. Second was that my alarm hadn't gone off. Third was that I had woken, yet again, in a room I didn't recognize.