The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Drop Jaw by Rikki Santer

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Stephanie Erdman, is from Drop Jaw by Rikki Santer, released by NightBallet Press in 2020. 

Born Ventriloquist

Caesarean section, like red
velvet curtains, pulled open
for applause. Your wet lungs
drawn off like determined
marionettes & nurses swathed
you in tuxedo cummerbund.

They told your parents you had
to crawl before you could tap dance;
coo & gurgle before consonants
emerged, yet you announced your entry
with your egg tooth tossing punchlines
across a gleaming labor room.

That garden smile of yours
& its ghost of mustache
got the doctors yukking
it up as your vocal chords
pranced, spinning setups
from ceiling to floor.

Your new breath was cheese corn,
your hands, fledgling beaks.
They say you were taught in utero
by vaudeville angels, so your
bassinet stayed miked, milked
for a marveling proscenium.

Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana and Ohio Poet book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series, was recently published by Luchador Press. She is also a member of the teaching artist roster of the Ohio Arts Council, a vice president of the Ohio Poetry Association, and a member of the poetry troupe Concrete Wink.

Stephanie L. Erdman graduated Purdue University and received her master’s degree through Indiana University. Her first poetry collection, Pyrrhonic, is available through Dos Madres Press and her second collection, Sankhara, is upcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Stephanie describes her style as anything with music and novelty. Stephanie lives in Northwest Indiana and works as a professor of English, editor, and professional tutor. She lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan with her dog, cat, 18 chickens, a transient partner, and persistent impostor syndrome.


One thought on “The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Drop Jaw by Rikki Santer

  1. Thank you, Stephanie, for featuring my poetry collection inspired by the art of ventriloquism. I feel honored. I hope to learn more about your “persistent imposter syndrome”! Let me know how I can contact you.

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