Alison Stone


You don’t have to say good-bye,
reads the taxidermy ad in a cat-owners' magazine,
Keep your loved one at home.
Whom would stiff, stuffed Fluffy,
curled in her favorite basket, comfort?
Yes, the owner would be spared those moments,
common after loss, of walking into a room
and catching a glimpse of the departed, only
to have them morph back into pillow or bag,
but wouldn’t the animal’s unresponsiveness
sting? Can need blossom
into truth? One woman, co-authoring a book
with her dead son—asking questions, listening,
then typing the answers she hears him give—says
she’s spared the usual mourning.
The heart wants what it wants,
Woody Allen said when caught
with his common-law daughter,
and who hasn’t felt the tug toward what’s wrong,
hasn’t held a person, grudge, or idea
beyond reason? Though reckoning stands to the side,
licking its lips, we plow
ahead into our pasts’ defining hungers,
like an older child craving stroller,
nipple, womb, how later he will
enter a woman and withdraw
into the same grief,
or she will clutch her lover’s back
against the crush of morning.
Having learned from the supposedly blueberry cereal,
which dyed our milk grey, the mind’s
unfooled by counterfeit but overridden
by the loyal, stupid, stubborn human heart.



Poem Inspired by a Line by Natalie Diaz

I submit to mystery, then I become it.
A half-heard phrase compels more than a clear command.
Who’s fool enough to refuse when the forest calls,
all that darkness and moon-made shadows.

A half-heard phrase compels more than a clear command.
We follow, as our blood dictates.
All that darkness and moon-made shadows
offer us, we want, at least once.

We follow as our blood dictates.
Ecstasy and oblivion tease with the same release,
offer us what we want. At least once,
every timid heart craves more.

Ecstasy and oblivion tease with the same release.
Each lover longs for boundaries to dissolve.
Every timid heart craves more.
There’s no joy without surrender.

Each lover longs for boundaries to dissolve,
a break from the dusty self.
There’s no joy without surrender,
no thrill without the slap of the new.

A break from the dusty self
leaves me wanting more—
more thrill with the slap of the new,
more midnight and strange rustlings.

Left wanting more,
I’m Fool enough to go when the forest calls
at midnight with strange rustlings.
I submit to mystery, then I become it.



Note: The first and last line borrow, and alter, Diaz’s line: “I obey what I don’t understand, then I become it.”



Alison Stone has published seven full-length collections, Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020), Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, a book of collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award. She was Writer in Residence at LitSpace St. Pete. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack.

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