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. 

American Mouthpiece

               My teacher…painted a Jerry Mahoney figure brown
               and I used it for a while.  —Willie Tyler, ventriloquist

Detroit gospel
ersatz afro—
Lester & the church
of Motown that
spun from his jaw.
Amen to TV lights
& Vegas—
quiddity of
breakthrough.

Cackling & raucous
that Georgia
pretty boy
& his Madame—
flamboyant & frothy
as banana
cream pie.

Juanito’s wooly
moustache &
dialect spitballs—
no stage,
no act, just
prancing duets
with what
other folks
say.

Hey, wooden
white boy,
time to move over—
Achmed,
dead terrorist
taunts American
delusion
illusion
now thinner
& unplugged.


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.

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