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Poetry Winter 2013    fiction    all issues


Alysse Kathleen McCanna
& other poems

Peter Nash
Shooting Star
& other poems

Katherine Smith
House of Cards
& other poems

David Sloan
On the Rocks
& other poems

Alexandra Smyth
Exoskeleton Blues
& other poems

John Glowney
The Bus Stop Outside Ajax Bail Bonds
& other poems

Andrea Jurjević O’Rourke
It Was a Large Wardrobe...
& other poems

Lisa DeSiro
Babel Tree
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Michael Berkowitz
As regards the tattoo on your wrist
& other poems

Michael Brokos
Landscape without Rest
& other poems

Michael H. Lythgoe
Orpheus In Asheville
& other poems

John Wentworth
morning people
& other poems

Christopher Jelley
Double Exposure
& other poems

Catherine Dierker
dinner party
& other poems

William Doreski
Hate the Sinner, Not the Sin
& other poems

Robert Barasch
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Red Bird
& other poems

Anne Graue
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Tub Restoration
& other poems

Paul R. Davis
& other poems

Philip Jackey
Garage drinking after 1989
& other poems

Karen Hoy
A Naturalist in New York
& other poems

Gary Sokolow
Underworld Goddess
& other poems

Michal Mechlovitz
The Early
& other poems

Henry Graziano
Last Apple
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
& other poems

Roger Desy
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

Frederick L. Shiels
Driving Past the Oliver House
& other poems

Richard Sime
Berry Eater
& other poems

Jennifer Popoli
Generations in a wine dark sea
& other poems

Writer's Site

Alexandra Smyth

Exoskeleton Blues


It’s that time of the month again—

the moon is bulging out of its socket.

My fillings shriek with pain and everything

is an insult: the skirt that no longer zips,

the door that says pull that won’t open

when I push it, the coworker who insists

on ending my name with an ‘i’ like some kind

of porn star when my email signature clearly

shows I spell it with an ‘ie.’ I want to be

Alexandra, the patron saint of not giving

a fuck, but the creatures with shells are

suffering and I can’t take this anymore.


I am one with the invertebrates, hoping

for chitin and barnacles, armor of my own.

I walk with my belly to my enemies, the only

barrier between softness and the world is

a pair of Spanx one size too small, waistband

chewing a ring around my middle, telling

my lovers “look how small I made myself for

you,” while the tell-tale stomach roll flaps

smugly in the breeze. We are all crustaceans

in the bedroom, and when I am in front of you

I feel too big for this skin, wishing I could molt.


The moon, that big old slut, pulls at the tides

and in turn the tides pull on me. My body swells

and deflates, bellwether of blood to come.

I am always surprised at the elasticity of my skin,

the network of silver stretch marks across my hip

a map, literally, of how far I’ve come. It’s the human

body’s largest organ, and every seven years

years it regenerates into something new. A lobster

lives for seven years, and will shed its exoskeleton

twenty to twenty-five times. The things that I could do

if I was given fresh armor over two dozen times.

How to Make Him Love You

First, you must wait:

desire will become dilute, inoffensive,

the last dregs of a drink on the rocks left

to sit and melt. This isn’t weakness; this

is patience, an arithmetic of cat and mouse.

Don’t become disappointed: this thrill is

evergreen. Soon, you will be held captive, knock-kneed

with wanting. With enough practice, your mouth will fill

with the taste of almonds and milk, your breath will honey

with the rhapsody of absence.

You are strong enough to survive on vapor,

yet you feel a fresh collision beginning

within. When you find him, lost and gasping

in the coatracks, draw him in with your nectar.

You are still soft and ripe, a peach.

An Obligated Woman

I stagger around you in this empty room,

a breathy vortex of wanting, incapable of

naming this grief shifting inside me, smooth

and heavy like a stone inside a pocket.

The old bat is clanging in the belfry, unable

to see the humane through my own dark lens.

I would sink into your body if it could

provide me any consolation:

I would eat you alive at the crossroads if I thought

the taste would help me swallow this sorrow.

Post-Post Modernism

I’m trying to call you but you won’t pick up.

The 911 operator told me it wasn’t an emergency,

wouldn’t be for at least three more days. Then maybe,

I could try filing a Missing Persons report, but what’s

the point when no one misses you except for me?

I threw out the hair dryer in protest. I filled the bathtub

with seltzer. Maybe I can lead you to carbonated water,

but believe me, I know I can’t make you drink. I’ll rise to

this challenge. I’ll wait here ’til my eyelashes fall out, if

that’s what it takes. Was my morning breath really that bad?

I’m sorry I didn’t wear that fancy bra. The underwire stuck

into my ribs, and it made me feel like Jesus’ slutty little sister.

You know I already have a martyr complex. Did you really

want to feed into that? I’ll put it back on if it makes you happy,

you know, but I’ll have to call you Judas if that’s the case.

I eat spicy things just to feel now. I’m so lonely I put on

the kettle just to have someone to talk to. Even the cat thinks

I’m eccentric. Won’t you just come back? The internet is a cold

and lonely place where everyone is wrong, always, and besides, can’t you

hear the siren call of my knee socks? I am wearing them just for you.


I fall into you like skinned knees:

sticky meat, red oozing to surface,

your mouth like cold air on a wound.

Blow on it. Anyone who’s telling you

they don’t like the twinge is lying to

you. We all want that tingle from pain,

then the heady release of analgesic,

how we edge close to oblivion with

pain’s fading. If you’re truly lucky,

old wounds don’t heal right, and you

feel their echoes with the right amount

of pressure; barometric changing.

I press against you at different angles,

seeking out the sweet spot. It occurs

to me in the midst of this hungry

coupling that you are unaware that

this is what I am doing.

A psychic on the Long Island Railroad once told Alexandra Smyth she was “going to be like Sylvia Plath, but you know, without the whole suicide thing.” She will earn her MFA in Creative Writing from The City College of New York in February 2014. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, PoetsArtists, and District Lines, among others. She is the 2013 recipient of the Jerome Lowell Dejur award in poetry.

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