A.L. Rodenberg



Perched like daggers

thrown at a wall,

precarious, brittle

with a beauty

that breaks,

Scottish birds fly

on black wings

honed and polished

to an inorganic

shine, sharp

silhouettes pinned

to a grey sky.




Charming is in the library,

fingering the artifacts of our first dance,

the remains of the night


I sawed my toes off one by one

for a shoe that did not fit.

He'll be down soon enough;


I think tonight it will be phalanges

run one by one through the fine hairs

at the nape of my neck.


Or just as likely, his left capitates

will break the skin of the cheekbone

he once versed by sonnet and song.


I have learned the use of each bone,

even after tendons powder and fall away.

I have learned to dance crippled,


to turn my unbalanced box-step photogenic.

While I have the time,

I inscribe figure-eights in my red dress.


I waltz Miles Davis across acres

of concrete ballroom.

The mop keeps perfect frame.





There is an alligator in my eye.

You are at your most honest at

my breast. I am at my coldest.

I love the third.


There is an alligator in my eye.

It flinches, considers you with ice

in its veins, waits with razors

in its teeth. You stand behind

me so you can't see it and it

can't see you. But you know.

I know. We all know.


You are at your most honest

at my breast. I tell my best lies

there: if this is a transaction

I can live with it. If this is good

bye, I will miss you. Really.


I will not say what is true.

I love the third, the phantom

the ghost that haunts my bed.





When the windows shattered,

I did not mind. After the dust and the sulfur,

I could finally breathe again.


When the electricity was extinguished,

I was relieved. I went to the roof and found

my namesake constellation.


When the bomb took down my wall,

I wept in gratitude: it made a door

where there had been none.


The newspapers named the dead.

There, in print, they promised:

it would all be done tomorrow.


When the enemy took my son,

I went into the street and found another,

a better son with a mouth as wide


and empty as a baby bird's.

And when the bombs silenced

and the screaming stopped,


I broke apart like a dropped vessel:

I had waited too long

to be counted among the survivors.

A.L.Rodenberg is a writer working in both poetry and fiction.  She graduated with a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster. Ms. Rodenberg's first published poem, "Apocrypha," appeared in Smiths Knoll in 2006 and will be included in an upcoming collaboration of poetry and art at the Tate Museum in London.  Her most recent adventures in prose include completing National Novel Writing Month and a digital fiction work-in-progress located at http://sites.google.com/site/shorehwy/apartment.  Ms. Rodenberg lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C.



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