Featured Poet

Rebecca Loudon


( Seattle, Washington )


He's drawn to her professional tango
voice, honey-slick for a precise number
of minutes, an equation, a sequence,
an interlude to amuse, to divert himself.
Divertire, divertere, divertiss, devertir.

In between turns she watches the sky
for signs, cleans the chimney in case
he drops in, lights the fire, always
waits and tends the fire.
She is a rag soaked in gasoline.

She is instrumental, a chamber work
in several movements, hears Mozart
as owls fling themselves from linden
trees under magnetic influence.
He swings, an erratic compass needle.

He feints, admires the symmetry of her 
breasts, her arched eyebrow, the timbre
of her voice singing arias from the bath,
Don Giovanni, all the blood running out.
Ebbi le mie ragioni. È vero? 


She lives now with stutters & whores
just as her grandfather predicted,
	[fire eater, human blockhead, bed of nails]

watches the neighbor's window dim
or festive at dusk, drinks a bit more wine
each day, empties the bottle by six,
speaks her father's language the closer
she gets to affection, to drunk,
	[appellation d'origine, cru classé, vin de pays]

finds owls in the cupboard or gripping
the towel rack in the bathroom, asks
them to leave, uses a polite voice, open
vowels. Her chair scoots three inches to the left
every night & bites her wrist when she sits
	[blind bite, jewel line, torn cloud]

thinking earthquake, the floor thumping up
like a fist and she shivers, gold and red,
folded into herself, belly full
of hummingbirds.

The Margaret Poems

At The Lucky Day Laundromat

Six turquoise chairs were welded
at the hip. The whole row moved
when Margaret nudged it with her foot.
She sat on the floor by a dryer, 

watched the circle and fall of a striped
sock, rocked a bit, hugging her knees,
breathed the antiseptic scent of fabric
softener, bleach, shirts spread
like cormorants on green hangers,
the basket's tussle and squeak 
as the attendant wheeled by scraping 
lint from mesh screens.

Margaret wanted to burrow in warm
clothes; sheets, towels, trousers,
the shed skins of children.
She pressed her cheek against

the plastic door, then her mouth, flush
and open. She swallowed the servo hum,
ate motor, churn, cog and oil, the ping
of coins sliding home.

How Margaret Falls

She falls again, splayed on hands and knees
in the parking lot of the Italian restaurant.
In the car, she digs small stones from each palm, the top of her left foot–
a botched stigmata.

It's like this, she says, I got up too fast, dizzy 
from gin in a glass thin enough to bite.

She lights a cigarette, throws her ruined stocking out the window.
I lean across the steering wheel, lick Brazen Raisin lipstick
from her mouth, tongue her overlapping tooth.

We are not,
we are not,
we are not what you think.

Margaret presses fingers to eyes,
arches her foot once, twice, against the dashboard.

Margaret Watches The Misfits

It's the way Marilyn's mouth moves;
upper lip swabbing her teeth,
a constant undulation. 
Her long breasts slope,
loose against the white blouse,
its little darts tucked
for women without breasts.

Margaret unravels the fringe
on her bedspread one braid at a time,
fanning the frizzed yarn.
In a year she has made it nearly half
way around. She sips port from a child's
plastic cup, hair a brown scrub.
All that Nevada dust presses
into her clothes, pushing, insisting.

Clark Gable's paunch sloops
under his cowboy shirt, new jeans 
pulled up to his chest. Eli Wallach
pumps his fat, clumsy legs against 
Marilyn's ass. Margaret pours
another cup of port as they suck
at the blonde's mouth, lift her
off the porch, their white arms
soft as bread.

The mustangs kick and jerk 
at Margaret's ribs. Hooves, 
sharp blades, pummel her heart.
She curls fists against stomach,
dry hair wisping as she leans 
toward the floor to smooth 
the bedspread with her hands.

Margaret Trims Her Wicks

Margaret has a plan for becoming famous
or at least knowing someone famous
or fucking someone famous. The details
aren’t clear. She controls critical aspects

              1. dirt/mold along the window sill
              2. organized cupboards/closets 
              3. under the sink
              4. bathtub rim
              5. something happened

She doesn’t give a ratsass, she says, for men. 
She cleans and cleans her house, hands rashy 
with bleach. This has been her job for months. 
That, and being sick

              1. eu-phe-mism

Margaret makes lists, thinks this might speed
things up. She listens to the police scanner
at night, all channels clear, squelch, dispatch
voice bringing crime live! into her house

              1. Ocean Charles X-Ray copy that
              2. suspect drives a dark blue Ford sedan
              3. woman finds her front door kicked open
              4. what happened in her bedroom what

It’s not a very good plan. Margaret reads
all the latest how-to books but does not
follow directions clearly, does not meet
the required skill sets as stated
in her behavioral profile

              1. nursing home aide
              2. fry cook/mechanic
              3. await further instructions
              4. composite drawing/identify

Her face is beginning to wear. She still looks
young but the muscles around her mouth sag.
She hates this, wants to find a new face,
practices saying her name in the mirror 
as she tweezes her brows

NOTE: "At The Lucky Day Laundromat" first appeared in Stride Magazine, 2004; "How Margaret Falls" first appeared in Avatar Review, Summer 2000.

I - Simple Equations
II - Sleep Screen With Lavish Proportions
III - Defining Borders
IV - Bodies in the Rain

Current Issue - Summer 2004