wicked alice| fall 2011

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                         Leah Stetson

The Hyena Diet      

Saturday’s horoscope intrigued: I should find
A cultural event and meet a developer, a man.
But which one? The radio foretold a Home Show:
“Come see 200 boobs. Dreamy kitchen islands.”


In the paper, choices abound. “Egg-stacy:
Ukrainian Easter décor, Rugbraiding retreat,
Woodcocks Gone Wild! Lay of the Land,
A workshop on the Ancient Hyena Diet.”


“Let’s go dance to a band from outta town,”

Rumored to belt out lyrics by the Pretenders
And Pink.
It’s at Harmony Hall, the wrong
Side of the fence at the Wildlife Park.


My step-dad wanted to see his friend on the keyboard,
“People our age have STDs,” was my mother’s main
Argument, “Wear a haz-mat suit, please.” She wouldn’t
Get caught dead there, not since she moved away.


Some local women, laughing wildly, a pack
Led by a bad Zumba instructor, jointly stalked
A yuppie, eyeing him, sizing him, he stacked
Up against the few shady guys, who talked.


One says:  “They run together, scavenge outside cafes and gyms,
Eat carrion, fast food, unsuspecting dudes like him.”
Another: “When a hyena eats, she ingests every hard bit
Of bone and nail, muscle and meat, in minutes.”


The workout clothes, a watch, keys, wallet,
In gobs of regurgitated clear stomach slime
Reveals the kill, no gazelle, their stealthy habit,
Masks his frailty, dirty-hot like Caribbean crime.


One such woman calls herself ‘maneater
In her online dating AD: “Looking for
Something serious.” Must act like an injured
Seal, swim poorly so she can ensnare


By hair extensions. To attract her, flop
On the shore, she’s disguised, self-tanned
Blending in sandy soils, scrubby mudholes
Former teen-mom in rehab for a reason.


Pacing in a parking lot, hurt and not yet
Over it, their bite’s worse than their bark.
Mangy-haired, spotted-pawed cigarettes
Glowing eyes like lighters flick in the dark.    







The Ogre and the Bad-Girl


Oh, so this is 28:  we make sounds at decibel
Levels, if you want music to match, proving
Whether the original act is real, syllables
A quiet detective’s eyes catch roving.


Capsized, without phones, or outrigging,
That cautious ogre couldn’t read her
Sighs deeply; what she is doing,
Double-blended with precious water.


Marooned, and bug-eaten, she struck
Pride—divided fire and dance to edit
The exotic Tarzan narrative: a hunky
Scorpio with leaves and a heavy accent.


Barricaded, as if she wanted to be hostage,
What role fits by the time the sun and planets
Are pieces of wood, papier-mâché, blue vintage
Earth, porous materials we didn’t protect.


Jeweled, suddenly this claptrap bad-girl seeps
Into storm drains, remote smugness a fence
Found out, hardly anyone but stranger creeps
Practice speaking her salty language in tense.


Unfolded, her multi-storied flaws
Rolled off the edge of his shipboard,
Or house, ringside seats to sautéed stars
Shocked, he bristled at her rainy-day sword.


Lumbering back to the lake, he leaned the canoe
Against his tree-trunk leg, amidst squishy geology
How she planned it, an unnatural kit, she knew
Essentially a talent for imagining planetology.









The Peony and the Rose


The visiting god has been transformed
Her secret lover is also a warrior,
Or by touch, stuffed lion winning over
Pressing back gales of primitive power.


He’s not giving in, veritable chokehold,
Then chase and catch, inadvertently snuggle,
Body heat melts with love black gold
Don’t rush, top-dressing is not enough.


Sleep shifted to unearth my cravings:
His solid shoulder, grazed a fixture
Of my superstitious ruby-throated heart’s
A long and fruitful lost nature.


While traipsing through your slimy little psyche,
I realized what I love: man’s feral trickery
His clothing, the werewolf mythos must be felt,
Not the least by himself, truly scary.


Uncanny, seemed to know each other
Her bad habit, threw her arms a pantomime
To keep their potent insides crashing up
Sand, silt and nesting lore at the bottom.


Gaggles of tiny inhabitants scatter as you dig it
Deeper, truth left up to you and me, a pulse
How do we dabble—peonies and roses have limits
A new kind of element, not water or air, is the cause.


You told me to fly when there was no hammock
I performed occasionally this loss of self-control
Not only has its PROs and CONs, such as “to connect,”
You might mash the mystery of my meddling behavior.


Dreary, almost 10p.m., I’d rather you want
All these ingredients; no cheating, it’s gradual.
We were clumps of clay enlivened in the night
Saving it for the end of the hardy king’s score.






Leah Stetson’s poetry has appeared in Not Just Air (Issue 8), Wolf Moon Press Journal, Arsenic Lobster, Words & Images, Panamowa: A New Lit Order (a feminist literary magazine) and COA Magazine.