olivia cronk

Note: These poems all respond to a comment made by one of my students during a discussion of Dickinson (informed, in part, by a parallel one of Kafka). While we examined a line, the student grew visibly frustrated with the (narrow) focus of our comments. Exasperated, she exclaimed, "But we have no idea what comes before or after that poem. We don't know the secret or imaginary poem she cut away." Since then, I have been making of my poems a blooded attempt at creating the imaginary poems that precede and follow them. The imaginary ones, like evidence of wind, can only be observed by the words they ruffle. Kind reader, it is your job to find said secrets, in the roughness of your own wonderfully bizarre brainscape.

Backyard Skin

Drop your armlet on the chair,
tie the mole to the post.
Ah for a gimme
of that splendid western blood you have.

A pincushion here,
a bending Chaplin cane there—
bang. Bang. Bang.

Suddenly it's twins in corsages
licking their reading fingers
over some Tijuana bibles.
Have some camphor, they say.
Pose a gloss starlet.
They say, smirk and wink, sinner-honey,
take a load off some, honey, do.


Shit. All fake beards in here.
Little sergeants throwing
some diamond-clasped curls
while poodling home.

A sweetletter hussy
of peach satin.
They sicked my slick. Mama
I don't die.

But will you do the thunderbolt?

I'm keeping on fluffing on Jimmy Valentine.

The way he rubbed
those words together
was just obscene.

it's the wrong weather for this dress.


and that was when he combed my skull
all bade, nigh, lass—like
I was a sapphired monocle
or some shit.
I passed sweet by then,
what with
my hidden aristocratic strand of grey hair,
my teddy-boy farewell.
Oh you know I got clean in my vexing.

Don't get your debutante all shimmer

as if I didn't already know how
daddy dons dollars in the
rectory's parlor—
Bunny's on the tin-can phone,
all skyed
about the long stockin'd legs,
that lavish weeping
she mumbles,
like it's a blondie's speeding ticket
instead of a rat's breadline.

a sleek, josephine odor, though.

She hoofs it hard as breeding
She hoofs it soggy dungeoned,
locked good.
Needs some awhile roving, I think so,


Not that they couldn'ta'
wept an old hostess round.
But the wad of work—
it kept. Saddest
Kitten on the Keys
ever breathed into a grey mouth.
Once there was, once there was
a chiffon sleeve
a trick wire giuseppeed overhead.
Once the sprinkler turned on
a cheap blue lace.
I thought I was so very
porcelainish as wildflower,
smudged raw rouge.
Was always long done in
over the Donna. And kid,
the thing was kept done.