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

Brittany Ober


There is a secret violence in life

as lovely as the caged tiger's white, flashing teeth.


Futurists believed in the glory of war,

nothing more elegant than a structured attack,

wrote Filippo Marinetti in their manifesto.

"We intend to exalt aggressive action,

a feverish insomnia, the racer's stride,

the mortal leap, the punch and slap."

Gino Severini's figures sneak out of the canvas

the way raptors creep out of the shadows

in black and white dreams.


Sleep doesn't come easy. You lay awake

counting the stresses of an unwritten line,

or pretend you=re a highway shooting across the city-

white slashes separate three lanes-

so simple. The heat clicks on,

snarls through the pipes like dragons.

You lay flat, breathing, lose focus,

and your stomach turns at the thought

of horses struggling, plunged in the ocean.


Maybe Severini could deduce you, paint you

in dynamic thirds, take scissors to your senses,

simplify your thriving complexities

into a sequined canvas, a rushing sequence.




Orange and white

road work cones populate

the sides of the highway.

Somewhere nearby jack hammers

carve out chunks of the road,

and dividers move closer

to cars. Cement fields boast

flashing orange reflectors.


When I was young I tried

to reach for poppies out the window

while my mother drove, but the car moved

too fast, and the flowers streaked

like mandarin and tangerine crayons,

the road a page ripped out of a coloring book.


I grew older, the interstate

barreled onward, and I read Plath:

"Poppies in October" and "Poppies in July."

Her words bloomed along roadsides;

sun bursts exploded, orange

and windy, and I wished

I could leave the car on 78E

and run through fields

scribbled with petals.





I grew up listening to "He hit me (and it felt like a kiss)"

Ten years later, I hit him after one

too many vodka martinis,

or maybe one too many Manhattans,

(perhaps too many gin and tonics)

and the next morning when I saw the scratches

around his neck, and his busted lips


that I usually fell asleep while kissing,

I was pissed that he hadn't hit me.

Weren't men supposed to slap

women so their eyes resembled two 8 balls?


I watched Dennis Hopper, perfectly

macho in a cowboy hat,

wail on Maria in The Last Movie

until her face looked like a nighttime

shade at the MAC counter.


I once saw a friend throw his younger brother

on the floor of a cramped condominium

living room, complete with Victorian decorations

and pink cushioned chairs. His bloody nose

sprayed the carpet red. I felt drunk

as a witness to violence, and even though

it happened between two men,

I imagined myself a part of the fight:


my elbows sharper than knives,

fists harder than rocks

and fingernails like awls

for poking holes in leather.

Brittany Ober was born in Lititz, Pennsylvania. She holds a B.A. from Muhlenberg College in English and Art History. Her work has been published in Canteen. Brittany currently lives in New York and works in an art gallery in Chelsea.