<i><b>Wicked Alice Poetry Journal
wicked alice| summer 2007

Susan Slaviero

Letter from a Lapsed Catholic, August 1979.

It is left behind, this place of
bread & bones, where rose
windows are unlucky as
opals, and all I did was peel
my body back like roasted
petals.  Now, I think in terms

of silhouette, sex, chocolate
cake.  I trade my olivewood
boards & bent nails for thin
china cups & saucers.  Glass
flakes from my side, exposes
a lash scabbed over with sea
salt & pearls.  There’s blood
in my mouth.  Again.  I light

a candle in the backyard, mimic
your body’s turned back, bowed head.


a dream of burial at Via Nomentana

January 21, 1957.  Agnes wakes
to icy floors, exhales

vapor from her lips.  Last
night, she sewed an altar

cloth, dreamt of Roman
boys burned blind by gusts

of sand, by visions of black
lambs and white, tender

thighs. Her mother burns
incense on formica

countertops, slices hearts
of palm, something

red, her spine bent beneath
a green shirtwaist.  Agnes

offers her a cheek, rubs
salt into a paper cut,

makes the sign
of the cross inside

the kitchen
doorframe, her

bracelets clanking
like broken fetters.



Prayer for an epileptic

In her dreams, Dymphna is sleepwalking, is kneeling,
is praying.  The sarcophagi cradles two sets of
bones: unskulled, burnt. 

Moon-maddened men with hands linked like chains
of gold hunch past, touch tombs with grimed
palms.  One slides a holy

card under a carved brick.  Somewhere in Belgium
a girl suffers seizures, sees Dymphna draped
in lamplight, a silver slip

of metal buried in her neck.  She wakes up color-
blind and bleeding from her stumped
tongue, the soles of her feet.

Susan Slaviero's chapbook, Apocrypha is due out from dancing girl  press in January 2009.