<i><b>Wicked Alice Poetry Journal
wicked alice| winter 2009

Lisa Markowitz


Birthday Eight


I find her when I fall, a bike accident one week

Before my eighth birthday. The sun is neon;

We are exactly the same age.


I am America, nearly dead on a curb. She is England,

Travels by way of mud-plugged mushrooms.

Says she’s given up looking for a rabbit.


Alice has taken to healing, watches the world as it blends.

Maybe it’s all building, a hospital. The doctor tells me

I’ve ruptured my spleen.


She sits on the end of my bed that rises with a switch.

I hang from tubes and needles, still a girl no less.

Not imagined, but real.


Not blonde, but brunette. Not British, but broken. 

My IV leaks—makes weather, comes water. It rains

For eight days, fresh wet road


Outside a frame of window. Sun again, sky rips in half.

Alice is ripped from a book. We talk about poetry.

Nobody knows what it is.


I trust everything: the cure, the doctor, all sharp things

That make me better, make me new.  Alice asks, but Lisa,

What does the spleen really do?


Not sure, but I know how it feels when it bursts, spilling

Over other organs with blood.  We talk about living.

Sometimes cells mount words,


Come before. I can’t be a poet with a broken body,

But they keep coming back, swirling around us,

Saying strange things—


England glows green. The moon is clisping.

Strawberry grass grows up to the stars.


You need a new word, she says, for what you do.

Call it epiphany, call it a lime, a religion.  It isn’t words,

It isn’t life.  It’s something else.


Can’t you see what you’re doing, looking into a big cliché—

Forests of trees without leaves, a bitter afternoon, your body

Sucked of blood, narrowing for clarity?




Alice On MAO Inhibitors


The rumbling comes, sick black

Dull of trees. Words come quick,

Chomping her skin. Paddles chipping

In the dull, dull sea. This time

She’s really done it.


Says Alice, “Even the cashiers know more.

I should think there is life in identification.”


Comfort is customer service, a buoy

Or abandoned raft swimming in the dull,

Dull sea. Sunlight is slight, comes from

The Verilux Full Spectrum, sleeps the damp air—

Alice turns an eye and lives in a happy light. 


She is tucked in and up. In a layer

Of fat she’s arrested, ready to shed. 

The snakes couldn’t stop her.

Protection is far, past the wildest horizon

Like chess, the whole world marked down

In squares. 


Alice says, “Even I’ve missed it.

Perpetual lateness has ruined me.”


A warm wind would still sing a song

Of nonsense. Old men with hats

Were babies with wrinkles, their world

Falling rocks, beware everywhere.


When Alice sits in a crowd, she is lovingly

Swallowed, a whale of sound, for the people

Are sharp carnivorous teeth that happily slide

Up and down her side. Death, Alice thinks,

Is very nasty—she sits up with indignation,

Very aware of the goings, the ins and the outs,

All injuries sustained in body.


“Am I a mushy mess of brain, cold slime,

Is there no break from synapse to synapse?

I’ve nowhere to collapse. Always elsewhere.


Her weary head replies: “How I wish, how I wish.

How I wish there was rehab for this.”






Prayer for a Plastic Surgeon


I am green for anesthesia.

Where to


Other than embarking, a blubber-whale

On new land and once dreamed?


What cannot disconnect, my ample blood

An offering


Fresh new life for table tubes,

Closest I’ve been to stems or a blessing.


Liquid-thin pipeline, a limbless lollygag. 

The clean things are achy to chisel

‘Round the rough. Cold enclosure of wall,

Pristine green shall begin this.


If God is a wrinkle of brain, it’s my right

To go under—


Balloon-head bumps the ceiling out,

Busts the room.  The chisel waits

For no one.


Doctor, take me where my beauty grew,

Where plants pushed noses from buds

And flowers flared nostrils to take up the air.


Doctor, poke and prod for skin and bridge.

This odd-shaped breathing apparatus is ripe

For deconstruction. Doctor, file the flower

Like nails.


Intravenous dream, my veins are hollow sprouts.

I hope to feel it everywhere, a break, a bone-bump,

And let the bogey out.


May you dig through my mother’s voice

Into fused bone, bark, and go grinding.


It’s a skin fix, a quiet riot, my sagging,

Stale blood a tornado ripping through

The surgeon-room, flesh and tool ready

To take, making a living will—


Lisa Markowitz has an M.F.A. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has been published in Colorado Review, Interim, JMWW and Down In The Dirt (forthcoming).