Alison Stone

Belle (Beauty) Explains

Sure, he’s a beast, but aren’t all men?
How different is it really, being snarled at
from being sweet talked, tricked by
phony manners and a pretty ring?
One ends up caged either way.
Here there are no disappointments.
Having seen the worst of him, I’ll be
no blindsided bride, no shocked damsel
sobbing when the monster rises in my lover’s face.
At least the dancing cutlery provide novelty,
and the unpetalling rose suits the Goth aesthetic
I craved as a teen but stern Papa forbade.
Though I can read myself away to anywhere,
the enormous library’s just icing.
I’m happiest when Beast sits by my side,
his furred loathsomeness
granting me license to drop “pretty girl” routines
that occupy too much of female time.
Legs unshaven, brows unplucked,
I settle into my animal self. Thanks to Beast,
I can scratch anywhere that itches,
take my game rare.
Lick blood from the plate.




How does the mind choose what to hold?
A gerbil’s torn-off tail, some silly jokes,
lines from a book I read in second grade.
Jenny and I try to build
the timeline of our teens. Were you
at that Cramps gig? Was I?
Did Abbey move before El went to jail?
The boy who broke me starts to rise.
I shove him down.

Today is Yom Hashoah. Forty percent
of Americans don’t know
six million Jews were killed.
Some cultures forget, some are forgotten.

My daughter knows the first and last names,
as well as the powers, of a whole anime hero class.
Will she retain them at my age, the way
I can still recite Underdog’s energy-pill rhyme?

Maybe love weights memories, stops
what matters from drifting away,
and shame’s stickiness keeps
old humiliations always with us,
but why do I remember Burger King jingles,
some silly jokes, gerbil’s tail caught in a Hot Wheels track,
dead beagle from a story read in second grade?

Even the word “memory” calls forth
a collage from the past.
As I tear up my hands trying to beat back
the tree-choking ivy, my inner movie’s
a montage of numbers tattooed
on my teacher’s arm, How’d you like
a nice Hawaiian Punch
and – eohippus, mesohippus, miohippus –
stages in the evolution of the horse.



Alison Stone has published eight full-length collections, To See What Rises (CW Books, 2023), 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. YouTube and TikTok – Alison Stone Poetry.