Am Alone, says the king,
walking down the stone path.
And at first he means it, they all do.
Until the silence grows
louder than the noise he used to make
down in the dirty city bars.
It grows like the moss on the trees,
like the gray hair on his arms.
Am Alone, they say
to get better
to be well
and still and peaceful,
to quell the fury.
But they hate it, like all kings hate being king.
They have no idea,
with the bright ideas,
with the looks that give and take
away from the spotlight
and all their fickle tempers,
their broken glasses,
cutting the bottom of feet.
All the roaring.
They hate it
when there is no one to hear them.
Nothing but silence and the echoes
of their own fury thrown back at them
from the ocean’s mocking slap.
still, Am Alone,
something I have never known
To live without it.
To forget and be forgotten.
To be still
for as long as I wish
vibrating like an atom.
Sometimes I wonder if I made you up, too.
The way I have always made up stories.
Especially when you told me that you had never read
all the books you said you did when we were young.
And I stopped on the street, shocked.
I saw my reflection in the store window,
my windblown hair,
my boy jeans, my fall jacket, taken aback.
I have watched you,
over the course of our life together
and even in our life apart,
create and recreate yourself for other people
but I had the secret. I knew you when.
And now, I realize it has happened again,
this time to me.
“It was you,” you said.
“Those were your stories. I couldn’t be bothered.”
When we were little we built civilizations
in my basement. Giant pillows for continents,
toys and dolls for people.
We played God. Some lived, some died.
Back then, I wrote poems too, inside
without paper or pencil I just didn’t know.
And here on the street, with the slump
of your shoulders passing my reflection
I reach out and take your words,
pluck them from the cool night air where they float,
stuffed them in my pocket, like a survivor
and when you were gone,
I ate them, bite by bite,
savoring them, like a secret.
Yowling in the Next Life
In the next life,
I'm going to come back as a cat.
No more of this pink hairless life.
Instead i will set on the dock in San Francisco
that white bright laugh
that used to torture the prisoners on Alcatraz.
The sounds they could hear over that quiet bay,
all that gentle conversation, the awkward
dinner dates, the shuffling starts and sputters
of men and women getting to know each other.
The symphony of clinking silverware, coughs, chatter
nervous accents, embarrassed pauses, space of silence louder
All of it floated over all that black water
over the honking of seals,
and came through those
rusty, sea-stained windows and
my god, it must have driven them crazy.
The cacophony of want.
yes in the next life,
I'll be on the dock, too.
A fat black cat, yowling at your moon.
Ally Malinenko has been writing stories and poems and novels for awhile now. Possibly too long. Occasionally she gets them published. Her first book of poems entitled The Wanting Bone was published by Six Gallery Press and her first novel for children, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, was recently published by Antenna Books. She can be found blathering here: http://allymalinenko.com/