Alison C. Rollins

birthright is a jester sans serif and comic

its gesturing arms track marks traveling

like a shuddering train covered in snow

arteries shooting up spits of smoke

         a man is an utterance of his father

never one but two             having a son

is the same as breaking into a house

that you own          thus, I implore you to

bite the robbing hand    leave the clock’s

second arm stuck       press control + shift

on the piano’s back       dark painted nails

dug into ivory skin          a baby grand

in a boarded up jazz club   holding down

the fort of a body off key     hold me down

come winter when the salt starts talking white

on the pavement’s black matter      clean cut

issues burning the tires’ indented heads

grooves of wounds worn and now balding

        have the trees been recording us all along

the leaves on audio playback      the memory

of their sound sewn onto wind gone ‘til Spring

  the engine in the cloud won’t let it go

needing proof of what happened     a cassette tape

come unwound  our three year old on the floor

with a grin    streams of black ink all around him

us in stitches at the mess of our first mixtape

“Dead Man Walking” on repeat in the living room

I have flown a kite once in my life (with my Dad)

but critics tend to whine about what they don’t get  

bkspace       this poem is not about programming

computers or apples         this poem is about horses

hens balking outside Robert Frost’s barn door        

a pint of Hennessy still resting on his bedside table

Perchance is a rapper based just outside of Derry

a suburb of Chicago           the EP “Conversate”

is chopped and screwed Emerson with six tracks

comprised of one hit and the rest mostly filler

a soundtrack long enough to last the duration of

Christmas dinner      up to the point at which

your Grandfather (coming ‘round for the second

time)                     pushes back from the table

his chair a metaphor for a mouth on all fours



Found In Volume 46, No. 06
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Alison C. Rollins
About the Author

Alison C. Rollins was born and raised in St. Louis City. Her poems have appeared in Black Warrior ReviewIndiana ReviewPoetry, and elsewhere. She is a 2016 recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellowship and a 2018 recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She has also been awarded support from the Cave Canem Foundation, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Currently she works as a librarian at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her debut collection Library of Small Catastrophes is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press Spring 2019.