The Works of Tobi Alfier

Tobi Alfier is a five-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Her most current chapbooks are The Coincidence of Castles from Glass Lyre Press, and Romance and Rust from Blue Horse Press. Her collaborative full-length collection, The Color of Forgiveness, is available from Mojave River Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

 


All Poems © Tobi Alfier

Epiphany


I will meet your eyes.

I will read your soul.

There is fear there, you,

your too short dress with

shot-glasses on it

bare legs, flat sandals,

a dedication to who you

wish you were. This is

an airport, you are dressed

like an aging Las Vegas

whore, your lipstick sunning

itself in the

cracks of your dry lips.


Your hand gnarls

around the arm of a

man who guides you

through the terminal while

he follows the ass of

some woman you

never were, even when you

were young. Your breasts push

a welcoming hello out of

the neck of your ugly dress,

but your skin is that speckled

reddish-tan with spots of white that

shows your hello is more

than half-way to good-bye.

It does not take a pair of glasses

to see that you are trying too hard.


What can I do for you? What

can I ever do for you? I

do not look away and then

I smile, a friendly smile not

out of pity for you but out

of pity for myself, because I

could be you in another

20 years, and that's a hard

lesson for me to know.

God damn it, it's a

hard lesson.



Midnight Meditation


It will be a month of lonely evenings
she said, we see the same moon
but not the same dawn, only she will
smell the ocean.

                         

                        They drink coffee
together in the morning and wine
together at night, together being
imagine my arms around you,
imagine my kisses in a month
they will be real.

                         

                        She worries
does he still want her, she is tired,
does he still want her, he can have
anyone, does he still want her,
what if he forgets?


The hawk soars over beloved hills
offering hope that straight flight
means the heart’s desire knows no
boundaries, no whispers, only
wings and tides, it shall be.



Paramecium


You may think you are quite common

but I think you are the devil.

Predatory scum, your exact function is not known.

Populations bow to you, single celled creature

your undulating tail rotates on an invisible

axis while we try to place you in a bright light

to slow you down.

The five senses are sight, touch, scent, taste, and hearing

but you use none of them for

physical or chemical stimulation

             stimulus -

             without the luxury of labor -

             two to three times a day -

coming together to exchange nuclear material,

you notice the reaction,

you notice the compatibility.

You are the devil

of small size and stout build

your stains are quite complex.

You ingest the curious,

are responsible for disease and infection

Oh, to press down on the cover-slip

and keep you from conjugating.



Sanity Among the Wildflowers


My lover's teeth are gray from lies,

spitting the poison out has darkened

them around the edges.

Her smile reminds me to be wary.

Remember the doctor smiling,

holding some vaccine behind his back,

that is how it feels today.

Our neighbors destroyed a

row of cypress trees

between our properties.  I

am helpless in the blinding 

spotlight I cannot ignore she is

untruthful, her thoughts a mosaic

I cannot parse and so it goes.

I am an uncomplicated man I

am not a hero.

I spread a blanket in the field,

ease into her journals.

There is no epiphany I know

I will never make her happy.

Only temporarily, as an orphan waits

anxiously along the edge of

a darkened train station for

rescue she waits with me.

She squeezes an orange

her hand shakes, how long

will this farce be played out?

It is very quiet in our house, civil

to the casual eye, never joyful,

her teeth are gray from lies.

So many lies.



What Happened to Eileen after She Dumped You


She likes pink. Braids her hair
on Monday for the week.


Hasn’t had a date in longer
than it takes to forget the last one.


He thought he was a ‘70’s rocker
wild hair and shine-black pants


practically painted on, and she, not quite
the pearls and sweater-set type,


at least she wore underwear
and left the glitter for Halloween.


Sushi with a boy in skinny-jean
leggings and his dad’s Old Spice—


worse than the fluorescent eggs
and unidentifiable squiggly things


he insisted on ordering, oh so suave
to show his worldliness,


much like his antics when he brought
her home, coaxed her into the back seat.


She went out the next day, bought a dog,
bought some tulips, bought the new


Boz Scaggs, threw out Peter Frampton
and never ate sushi again.

 


What Love Spares


Write down everything.
It just is. Don’t put the years
in order, making them march,
put them as you come upon
the sweetness of the day
or sting of an unexpected slap.
Remember how you remember,
the poignancy is that you
do
 remember, the detail doesn’t
matter.This is what made you.
Were her lips bitter-blue with cold,
just bring it forward. Understand
why you have an engraved
fondness for gray days,
the altered tenor
of salt on sugary things.
Forgive yourself and spoon her.
No lectures required. The back
of your breath has touched creation
the way the inside of a glacier
is from time before time.
Let it carry you through pulsing
moments, let it grow wilder.



Where the Woman Sleeps Through a Murder in the Room Next Door


In rooms hushed and struck
with dim light, the storyline
of a picture from the ‘40’s,
she sleeps fitfully, the flashing
of characters on her silenced
TV screen keeping her company
through dreamless sleep. A beehive


of activity outside her room—
it could be the desk clerk
checking in travelers, glancing
at their suitcases and signatures
with superstition and feigned
politeness, or directing
detectives to the room where
the body was found in an earlier
chapter.


It could be the nurses station,
dour and efficient, with small
lives or no sense of humor,
who choose the quiet
of the overnight. It could be
the first chapter of a novel,
mourners gathering to bless
one of their own, from whatever
corner of the world they claim.


This is the way she heals,
the time she needs, the love
she craves and gathers
to her, weak to strong,
to stronger.


Film noir or hospital,
Chesterfields or opiates,
snappy dialog or gentle
scrutiny in a language
foreign and coded,
doctors or detectives,
mourners or lovers,
it’s all the same release.
She will be healed

 


Winter Water


The tide burbles up,
rushes into the toe-holes
our feet make as we take
our last walk.  We converse
about the small things,
kick stones with
misplaced grief.


Salt spray refracts our hearts
cracking, we see the shells
as if mounted under glass.
We head toward our sandals -
my dress absorbing the
colors of the crashing foam
your legs purpled with the cold.


Small crabs clamor in
the warm wet of our
impressions - the front
of mine deeper as I
lean toward you, your
heels deeper as you lean
away.  I feel spent as beach grass.

The symphony of winter is an
appropriate final audience for us -
witnessing our undoing.