Trenton Times, January 1909





Jenna & I conjure owls up from the basement floor

& give them names we can never tell our mothers.


The house smells always of red sauce,

always of garlic, always of candles just gone out.


East Coast people are snake-teethed, distrustful,

trapped at the bottom of an old barrel slick with oil.





Jenna & I knot wings onto each other’s backs

in the park on summer days, and then dive.


We are not lovely,

but we have tearing claws,

flame-colored beaks.


Anything soft is taken by the shape in the trees –

his whiteness, the onion grass hanging from his lips.


He tells us to eat and we say no.

He tells about the car he’ll buy someday & we don’t listen,

are already scraping our claws down its sides.


His voice is like a little boy’s,

sneakered and knee-bloodied.


When we call out to each other we have sky voices;

they fly over his so fast he stumbles, doesn’t fall.


He can’t move from that spot

in the trees until you invite him.


We keep thinking that one day his mother will come,

that one day someone lovely will take his face

into her hands and kiss it, level the forest in it,

put a torch to the wood               & burn.


Alyssandra Tobin is a poet and short fiction writer who has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Ireland home. She has been published or has work forthcoming in Bad Pony, The Quarryman, The Hunger, Atticus Review, Curbside Splendor, and others, and was awarded the Douglas A. Pinta Award in 2015. She recently finished her MA in Creative Writing at the University College Cork.