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Alison Stone

Sartorial Ghazal

 

Please don’t ask if you can wear my black pants.

I adore you but won’t share my black pants.

 

Too often, the world requires armor.

With red lipstick and teased hair, my black pants.

 

Rip my shirt off, let the buttons pop. Break

my bra’s thin clasp, but don’t tear my black pants.

 

The spell’s broken, you say. You want to go

home to your marriage. Beware my black pants.

 

Dead sea mud smoothes and wakes my skin. Like a

facial for my derriere—my black pants.

 

Shy days demand baggy, ankle-length skirts.

When I want people to stare, my black pants.

 

Yearly cull of clothes too small, too worn, no

longer loved. I always spare my black pants.

 

Boxers dangling from a lampshade. Tangled

with your jeans under the chair, my black pants.

 

You sew carefully, aware you’ll win my

devotion if you repair my black pants.

 

Older, Stone’s learned less is so much more.

Sexier than my ass, bare—my black pants.

 

 

Romantic Ghazal

 

To shared values, add a dash of romance.

Drape commitment in a sash of romance.

 

One suitor is an heir. One writes songs. Should

she choose the dazzle of cash? Of romance?

 

After kids, fatigue, and disappointment,

bright as spring’s first bird—a flash of romance.

 

He journeyed from flower shop to bar to

religion, spurred by the lash of romance.

 

Room strewn with empty wine bottles, torn clothes,

dead roses, condoms—the trash of romance.

 

Come here. Now go away. Sharp words. Kisses.

Her neck aches from the whiplash of romance.

 

When bills and boredom dampen ardor, pull

happy memories from the cache of romance.

 

A slinky dress, a rhinestone crown. Eyes rimmed

with Smoke. On each wrist, a splash of Romance.

 

Let stubborn shoots push through cracks in stone. Let

nascent love rise from the ash of romance.

 

 

Dark Ghazal

 

She snuffs all the candles to find the dark.

The god used golden cords to bind the dark.

 

Did Cleopatra suffer when she felt

the final threads of self unwind, the dark

 

replacing everything? Rumi plucked gems

from the divine, Baudelaire mined the dark.

 

Black cats are chosen last. The Horned God morphed

to devil when some faiths aligned the dark

 

with evil instead of mystery. In

Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, light defined the dark.

 

Teens say, That’s so extra!  Adults say, free gift.

When the astronomer went blind, the dark

 

held memories of stars. Each night, the girl

would brush her mother’s thick hair, wind the dark

 

strands into a bun. The boy’s aunt taught him

to keep secrets and not to mind the dark.

 

The sun spent its last oranges and pinks.

Night descended while they dined, the dark

 

obscuring faces and plates. The bomber

mailed police a confession signed The Dark

 

Avenger. Do dying patients reach for

a nurse or toward some world behind the dark?

 

Some subjects won’t be caged by words. Do you

really think, Stone, that you’ve enshrined the dark?

 

 

Counterpoints

 

The sky so blue before the airplanes hit.

Words of praise can land where bullets miss.

Shadows come to life from lamps we lit.

The same lips that curse can also kiss.

 

Words of praise can land where bullets miss.

Hate’s hidden under fear but never gone.

The same lips that curse can also kiss.

Too quickly a new darkness follows dawn.

 

Hate’s hidden under fear but never gone.

When one shoe thuds, we know what’s coming soon.

Too quickly a new darkness follows dawn.

Clouds can eclipse even the brightest moon.

 

When one shoe falls, we know what’s coming soon.

Find joy in the spaces in between.

Clouds can eclipse even the brightest moon.

Past disappointments set up every scene.

 

Find joy in the spaces in between

the losses. Stacked up like dirty plates,

past disappointments set up every scene.

Still, hope is power that no pain negates.

 

Although losses stack up like dirty plates,

and shadows come to life from lamps we lit,

hope is power, and no pain negates

the sky—so blue before the airplanes hit.

 

 

The Objects of My Adolescence

 

Torn fishnets, hand-drawn Ramones shirt,

mohawked Barbie head

stuck on a stick—are they

in a landfill somewhere, slimy

with food scraps, trapped next to

charm bracelets and hair clips

from the preppy girls who taunted me,

or are they mixed with the recliners

and wine glasses of parents

whose suburban comforts we scorned?

 

Before people break down and blend together,

our possessions precede us. A garbage dump,

and not our country, is the true melting pot,

receptacle for refuse of movie stars and janitors,

boxes labeled in myriad languages,

unimportant trash joined with once-loved

mementos of shed selves,

4.9 lbs. per person, per day,

decomposing slowly, if at all,

except for the few treasures we save

to pass along, my spiked bracelets

safe for now from this sad fate,

sharp and shiny on my daughter’s arm.

 

 

Alison Stone has published nine full-length collections, including Informed (NYQ Books, 2024), To See What Rises (CW Books, 2023), and Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020). She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize, New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award, and The Lyric’s Lyric Prize. Her websites: www.stonepoetry.org and www.stonetarot.com.

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