A. Loudermilk

Happy To Spite The President

Big fleas have little fleas; little have lesser
—a chain-link ad infinitum. I’d march
behind father’s back, under husband’s radar
if I could get off work. The doomed otherwise
carry mirrors, full-length, to the White House.
All I can do is wear a “Nevertheless” sweater.

“But you were such a beautiful baby,”
my father accuses, like he’s digging my grave.
“I think I’m in this picture somewhere,”
my daughter wonders, unable to find herself
among the crowd. I hate my husband’s favorite song
—how he insists the lost shaker of salt is symbolic.
Me, I see prophecy: A road sign that reads

New Sign Coming. So no wonder I can’t be happy,
not where Heartland tightens Bible Belt, not even
to spite The President, his tower; the Revolution
may look almost as surreal from our back porch.




No cabinetmaker will build me a whole house
out of cabinets—as no house
is all attic, all stairs, all dumbwaiter
or the like—not like I
grew up hunchbacked sleeping in a cabinet
under the sink but just being visible
is my biggest confession; it burns
with atmospheric drag
to step into your line of sight, even during an eclipse

Make me a cabinet for smaller cabinets
—an empire of them—
for roosting in, peering out from—
gently lit cabinets for yard sale conches,
plastic Virgins, dictionaries bought
by the pound—a cabinet for technology
I can sing to—for
the croquet set my brother spurned—
for a war-weary typewriter—
for my hysterectomy in a jar—
for Geraldine Page’s solitary Oscar—
a two-axe-tall corner for my triggers—
an hour-deep shelf for my meds—cabinets
for nuclear siren, for pinhole camera—
build me a house—all eaves—on the path of totality



A. Loudermilk’s Strange Valentine won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, with individual poems in Cream City Review, Gargoyle, Smartish Pace—dating back to the 1990s when Mark Doty introduced him as a new voice in The James White Review. His essay on neglected Ohio poet Alberta Turner, the first long-form analysis of her eight books, was featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, while his poem about her is in the current American Journal of Poetry. For over ten years he taught creative writing at Hampshire College in Amherst and Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.