Alice, lucky at cards and unlucky at cats.
You’re a warning. You’re every girl stuck inside
a glass, unable to break free. They can shrink you
with a pill and swell you with a cake, they can break
your kneecaps with a croquet mallet and still they’ll tell
you to run run run. End up walking on eggshells.
Trust no white knight. You’re more than a talking flower,
more than a pawn or a pauper. Alice, please find
the courage to fling the whole game back in their faces,
to stand up and swing your arms wide and tear off
your apron. Tell them you’ll not be tethered, bear
your teeth and rage, your blonde hair flying a white flag.
Self-Portrait as Weather Report
After that high pressure system swept through,
you gave way to flooding and severe storms.
You couldn’t push all the way to the East Coast,
so you remained stymied in the Plains states,
spinning your wheels, losing steam.
What began as whimsy–a tiny welt on the blue screen,
barely meriting a name–you blew a hole in town
after town, howling. You took on too much snow.
You became a hurricane. You slept over in New Orleans,
causing havoc, you rode into the Panhandle low and wet.
When will you cease this cycle of carnage and pain,
sleep soundly overnight, ease up on the hysterics?
When will you turn from tornado to rainbow,
from snowpocalypse to springtime?
We’re tired of huddling against the wind in raincoats,
blowing into microphones, trying to track your erratics.
Apocalypse with Rod Serling
Rod Serling would like you to consider the last man on earth.
He is the original smoking man,
in a dark suit, his cigarette’s curling trail a sinister signal.
How we become the monsters we fear.
The lonely alien lost on our home planet.
He knows the end of the world can be a playground
or a parable. He invites us into alternate dimensions.
We understand his clipped somber tones take us on a tour
of gambling casinos in which we are always winning,
scary doors leading to nowhere, manicured lawns
weeping with dread. Airplanes carry gremlins on their wings,
and history is subject to change without notice.
If it could happen on Maple Street,
could it happen in your town, in your dreams?
Drunks become emperors. Beauties become beasts.
Every person born is condemned to die, he intones,
time and method to be determined.
We can race alone through space on a meteor,
perhaps prevent Pearl Harbor, or the earth sizzles
beneath an unrepentant sun. The end is always nigh
in Serling’s worlds, one push of a button, one minor twitch
away from melting before our eyes.
Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter and recent winner of the Moon City Press Book Award, Field Guide to the End of the World. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The American Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com.