The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Alice in Ruby Slippers by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas


My mother told me not to fib
or I’d go straight to hell,
and never ever twist the truth
from all that was to tell—

and I believed this golden rule
was one I shouldn’t break,
because she had no tolerance
for stories that were fake.

I guess I never questioned her
assuming she was right,
that everything she said to me
was honest and forthright.

Now looking back, I’ve come to find
a day she told a whopper—
one falsehood that I’ve later learned
was totally improper.

At least if one’s accountable
to ‘practice what you preach,’
and shouldn’t mothers say and do
exactly as they teach?

And I was just a child then
the morning I recall—
I went to wake my father up,
who slept across the hall.

I opened up their bedroom door
then turned the knob just so,
the morning light came spilling through
and cast a shadowed glow.

I tiptoed gently to the bed,
my everyday routine
then leaned in close to kiss his cheek
to stir him from a dream.

But he just slept and never moved—
his hands felt limp and dead,
and when I tried to waken him,
he didn’t move his head.

My mother made me leave the room
until the stretcher came.
Away he went with blinking lights,
a siren’s flashing flame.

She said he’d had a heart attack,
and offered nothing more
yet when she died, I found his note—
long hidden in her drawer.

With all her fiery threats of hell…
one truth had been denied.
The records read Took Overdose.
Apparent Suicide.

This selection comes from the book, Alice in Ruby Slippers, available from Kelsay Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker Award in Poetry, and her poem A Mall in California took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her work is widely published in magazines and online including, The Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, Mezzo Cammin, and Verse Daily. She is a former  Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review and The Orchards Poetry Journal and member of the Sacramento Poetry Center Board of Directors. According to family lore, she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.


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