I am a tired mom, who crunches numbers during the day to give people good retirements, and writes at night. I have been writing poetry for thirty five years or so, but only started reading and publishing in 2005. Occasionally a piece of micro-fiction sneaks in, but I am 99.9% a poet. Along with my husband, poet and photographer Jeffrey Alfier, I publish chapbooks for poets we love under our Blue Horse Press imprint, and co-edit and co-publish the San Pedro River Review, a semi-annual national and international journal of poetry and art. I am delighted to see some of our SPRR contributors in Verse-Virtual’s impressive and lovely list of poets.
Author's Note: When I first moved to Redondo Beach in 1991 I had the most interesting and wonderful landlady. She made me think a lot about these women, who had a certain amount of power around their buildings, but who would often go out of their way to make their tenants feel special regardless of their own personal hardships. I imagined all kinds of scenarios and I loved these women. I wanted to write their imaginary stories. I couldn’t write just one poem so I wrote eleven, and one longer poem entitled “How to be a Landlady” And then I was done. I wanted to honor these women who worked so hard. Even though I made this group up, I know they’re out there.
This is not the inheritance she wanted —
an apartment block
a ring of keys worn
as beggar’s teeth,
a promise made
to a dying man.
Flying cross country,
slipping between time zones
like a note under a door,
she’ll sip her dead father’s gin
with ice while her heart
tries to find comfort in commitment
Why these doors and the rage behind them?
Like a lioness, she’ll track the
stragglers with a ledger of who’s overdue.
Behind the walls, what seems like quiet
is a pause between storms,
storms that say kindness is more
in arrears than rent.
An entanglement of lives
with nothing but water stains,
peeling paint, jumbled hours and
miswandered love between them.
By morning the ice is melted.
She shoulders her dreams like a rifle.
Previously Published in Blue Earth Review
2B is on vacation.
She’ll bring in his mail,
commandeer his parking spot
for one of her lovers —
or more than one, she has two weeks —
plenty of time.
She likes young men, and they like her.
She can drink them under the table,
screw them dead and screw them again,
usher them out, the light of moths
flying about the porch light, shadows
of her skin a memory to haunt them
in the brilliant hours of oncoming day.
She sweeps the porch and thinks about tonight.
Purple stars ring delicately at her throat.
Melody, like light, through her veins.
Previously Published in Sugar House Review
She loves maps and keeps an atlas by her bed.
Tucked into the page of South Africa, a love letter.
Par Avion, the thin tissue with wispy thoughts
of love not to be, she let him go back to his family.
It was the right thing, and now she turns the pages
night after night, hoping to dream of beautiful
seas shaped like the clouds she watches overhead.
She waits for the pill to take effect, to soothe her back
and ready her for whatever the next day will bring.
Even sweeping hurts, and she wants to plant the walk
with colors of orange and yellow for sentimental
reasons. She is not reduced by her lost love, rather she
walks taller because of it, and she moves on.
He taught her many things, but mostly he taught her
that she was beautiful, the sweetness of her
redolent of Muscat and mint, with overtones
of lemon that he will never forget. She is ready,
the glow of their sweet laughter defining her
for the next one, the next one who wants her
for always, with no choice to be made.
The one who pins the atlas at her heart
and searches the stars until he finds her.
Previously Published in Bellowing Ark
©2015 Tobi Alfier