The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Empty the Ocean with a Thimble by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios, released by Word Poetry in 2021.

Consider Your Malice a Minor Disaster,

a stitch dropped, a tied naught, a hole singular, 
what did it matter what might not come after?
You're a factor of nothing, a sum of no matter 
a flat spot's blind crack behind tuneless guitars. 
I considered your rancor a minor disaster.
But love's cloaks, torn open, discarded in tatters,
bumblebee's sting and wasp's repertoire
taught me it mattered what clatter came after. 
The choke and the blow are your fury's cruel masters,
a dusky eclipse, a gnarled icy gnarr,  
your malice, I learned, a certain disaster.
Your knot of self-loathing destroyed you much faster
than memory's last gasp or my fuddled memoir,
for it no longer matters what might not come after.
You've shrunk down much smaller, you're no longer vaster.
The heat of your ego can no longer scar.
I consider your sickness a feeble disaster
and yes! Oh yes, Mother, a lifetime comes after. 

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios is professor emerita from American University in Washington DC, having chaired the vocal and music departments. Featured in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 challenge, she has been published in such journals as Clementine, American Journal of Poetry, Cumberland River Review, The Feminine Collective, The Kentucky Review, Into the Void, Unsplendid, Edison Literary Review, and Passager. Her chapbook Special Delivery, prize winner with Yellow Chair Press, was published in 2016, and her second chapbook released in April 2021, Empty the Ocean with a Thimble, by Word Tech Communications. As the artistic director of the Redwoods Opera in Mendocino, California, she has influenced and trained vocal students across the country.

Jordi Alonso holds degrees in English literature from Kenyon College (AB ’14) Stony Brook University (MFA ’16) and the University of Missouri (PhD ’21). He is currently a Classical Studies MA student at Columbia University. Honeyvoiced, his first book, was published by XOXOX Press in 2014 and his chapbook, The Lovers’ Phrasebook, was published by Red Flag Poetry Press in 2017. His work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Banyan Review, Levure Littéraire, and other journals. Follow him on Twitter @nymphscholar or get to know his work at


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