The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller, released by Two Sylvias Press in 2021.

Double Helix

                        content warning for dysphoria, body image and appearance

I am growing thick in the middle again,
		an avalanche over the waistband.
Those pounds I strong-willed away,
		unwelcomed back into newly upholstered
cells. A scale is unnecessary. Last summer’s
		clothes now grab my breasts and thighs
with graceless but determined ardor.
		My corduroys brush and spark.
Strict exceptions become the reckless rules.
		The last pastry or bread slice becomes a second
or third. What am I trying to feed?
		How I green-eye marvel at those women
who sit straight-backed and cross-legged in simple
		chairs, effortless as their unlabored breathing.
My lumbering limbs wince and blush.
		Such slender tenderness my body
has never known. Where to rest when your nest
		of skin feels cold as wintergreen dusk? I think
of my parents riding under the weight
		of themselves, careening down
demented diabetic roads, bread-crumbed days
		spent wiped and bathed as their bodies surrender
to decades of excessive hunting and gathering.
		My sleep plays hopscotch, each night falling
further from the last. I’ve lost count of the recurring
		dream where a black bear, rearing full height
upon its hind legs, swings inadequate claws
		at a half-hearted moon. All through these nights
of humorless stars, I hear bits of life cry out, each skating
		their separate darkness: a heron’s snapped wing,
a loon’s lonely wail, my burdened bones. 

Kelly Cressio-Moeller is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net, and have appeared widely in journals and at literary websites including Gargoyle, North American Review, Poet Lore, Salamander, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Water~Stone Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others. An associate editor at Glass Lyre Press, she lives in the Bay Area. Shade of Blue Trees from Two Sylvias Press (Finalist for the Wilder Prize) is her first poetry collection.

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 jordialonsopoet.com

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller, released by Two Sylvias Press in 2021.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

after Johannes Vermeer, oil on canvas, c.1663

*

It was mid-afternoon when I arrived in Amsterdam. The flight from California fueled a headache I couldn’t shake. I checked into my hotel room, hoping a hot shower would restore me. I was slipping on my robe when I noticed the blinking red light on the room’s phone: a message from my mother to call home. Her voice was low, a strange mixture of indecision and sadness. She spoke slowly as though lowering an anchor; there had been an accident. Tommy, close as a brother, was dead: a drunk driver crossed the divider, hit him head-on, the engine in his lap. I don’t remember telling her goodbye, hanging up the phone, or getting dressed, but I rode the elevator down and walked the stone-paved streets, shellshocked under a turquoise sky.

**

At the Rijksmuseum, whose rib-vaulted portico reminded me of a Gothic crypt, bicycles sped through the passageway before I entered. Upstairs, Vermeer had a room of his own. I stepped off the hardwood floor and sank deep into blue carpet. She was on the damask wall next to The Milkmaid, illuminated by skylight glow—so small, she could fit in my suitcase. But I didn’t care about the light or the colors. I didn’t care about the woman or the news in her letter. It was the map hanging behind her. The one detail that had seemed incidental before was all I could focus on now—all those meandering lines leading to and away from home.


Kelly Cressio-Moeller is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net, and have appeared widely in journals and at literary websites including Gargoyle, North American Review, Poet Lore, Salamander, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Water~Stone Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others. An associate editor at Glass Lyre Press, she lives in the Bay Area. Shade of Blue Trees from Two Sylvias Press (Finalist for the Wilder Prize) is her first poetry collection.

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 jordialonsopoet.com

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller, released by Two Sylvias Press in 2021.

Ithaka

Dear Penelope, do you now sleep among the catacombs?

Scarves of white drift over the Aegean—an altar of bottomless blue.

I have gone to the edge of the world and still cannot find you.

Even the olive trees raise their spangled limbs skyward in longing.

Mother Earth slides her abacus beads, conjures storms quick as curses.

When lightning struck, did the boat protect or beckon the bolt?

Island flowers shut their eyes only when the stars disrobe—hope and sorrow held
within the same root.

She imagines him bright-toothed and swarthy, but her husband is just sunburned
and homesick.

So many suitors holding her skeins—she’s woven a trail for her waylaid mariner,
long as his beard and her undoing.

In twenty years, she has never asked, What shall I wish for myself?

Odysseus wonders, Do I have the right to return?

Maids cast offerings to the sea: red rose petals and grape leaves—
love and wine all that remain.

Kelly Cressio-Moeller is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net, and have appeared widely in journals and at literary websites including Gargoyle, North American Review, Poet Lore, Salamander, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Water~Stone Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others. An associate editor at Glass Lyre Press, she lives in the Bay Area. Shade of Blue Trees from Two Sylvias Press (Finalist for the Wilder Prize) is her first poetry collection.

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 jordialonsopoet.com

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents November Poetry Xfit

Sundress Academy for the Arts

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present Poetry Xfit hosted by Marah Hoffman. This generative workshop event will take place on Sunday, November 20 from 2 to 4 pm EST via Zoom. Join us at the link tiny.utk.edu/sundress with password “safta”.

Poetry Xfit isn’t about throwing tires or heavy ropes, but the idea of confusing our muscles is the same. This generative workshop series will give you prompts, rules, obstructions, and more to write three poems in two hours. Writers will write together for thirty minutes, be invited to share new work, and then given a new set of prompts. The idea isn’t that we are writing perfect final drafts, but instead creating clay that can then be edited and turned into art later. Prose writers are also welcome to attend!

Marah Hoffman is a 2022 graduate with bachelor’s in English and Creative Writing from Lebanon Valley College and the Fall 2022 Writer in Residence at the Sundress Academy for the Arts. In college, she served as co-poetry editor of Green Blotter Literary Magazine and Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society president. From the LVC English department, she won The Green Blotter Writer Award. She has been featured in journals including Green Blotter, LURe Journal, Oakland Arts Review, Beyond Thought, and Asterism. Now, she is discovering new literary communities and new methods of igniting creativity. She loves creative nonfiction, intertextuality, whimsicality, cats, lattes, distance running, and adding to her personal lexicon. Her favorite word changes nearly every week.

While this is a free event, donations can be made to the Sundress Academy for the Arts here: https://sundress-publications.square.site/product/donate-to-sundress/107?cs=true

Each month we split any Xfit donations with our community partner. This month our community partner for November is Bryant’s Bridge. Bryant’s Bridge intends to provide affordable housing and a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth to prevent homelessness and promote growth in the areas of education, employment, health and mental health to develop strength of character and promote healing and independence in a world where societal structures create obstacles and hinder support systems necessary to adequately navigate the transition from youth to adulthood.

To donate to Bryant’s Bridge, please check out https://bryantsbridge.networkforgood.com/projects/150398-become-a-bryant-s-bridge-sustainable-supporter or https://www.bryantsbridge.org/ways-to-give

2023 Sundress Subscriptions Now Available

Sundress Publications is excited to announce that 2023 subscriptions are now available!

This year’s catalog includes full-length poetry collections from Heather Bartlett, Caleb Curtiss, Amanda Galvan Huynh, Tatiana Johnson-Boria, Athena Nassar, and Hannah V Warren as well as José Araguz’s debut memoir, Ruin and Want, plus a copy of our handprinted letterpress broadside from this year’s contest winner!

Subscribers receive all upcoming titles, complimentary swag, plus FREE entry into all of our 2023 Sundress contests, open reading periods, and Sundress Academy for the Arts residency applications for themselves AND a friend. That’s a $180+ value right there!

From now until the end of the year, you’ll receive not only the entire 2023 catalog but also a FREE Sundress title of your choosing along with a subscription letter suitable for wrapping if requested.

Subscribe today!

Interview with Arielle Cottingham, Author of Machete Moon

I was beyond excited to receive the honor of interviewing poet Arielle Cottingham about their new poetry collection, Machete Moon. This was my first author interview, and being the writer of a poetry collection myself, I couldn’t wait to read Cottingham’s pieces and dive deeper into the art process behind the words.

Cottingham is a well-traveled poet, but also uses their talents for performing, educating, and editing while touring. Cottingham has work published in several different journals and they also have a chapbook, Black and Ropy, with Pitt Street Poetry. In their newly released collection Machete Moon, Cottingham emphasizes their role as an immigrant and offers an unapologetic voice in an often times ignorant society. Cottingham doesn’t shy away from any topic, exhibiting strength and common sense in areas of pain and discrimination. I was also taken aback by the craft with which they blended prayer and conversation, showing language and religion as the brilliant tools or horrifying weapons each can be used as. I was eager to find out how Cottingham navigates the complex and frustrating conventionalities of the world in order to find and secure a place of creativity and individuality.

Emily DeYoung: What is the significance of the book’s title, Machete Moon?

Arielle Cottingham: As much as it is seen as a weapon, especially in the Anglosphere, the reality of the machete is that it’s an everyday tool. My first memories of being around them involved my maternal grandfather and my father pruning the rulo (plantain) trees that had sprung up like weeds in our backyard in Houston. The pruning allowed them to fruit more often, so I associated machetes with farming and feeding people until I started seeing them in heavy-handed films about Violent Brown/Black People. I know that a majority of people will see the title and assume more violence of its contents than what’s actually present, and subverting expectations⁠—of race, gender, and my general presentation in life—is a reality I’ve come to enjoy living in.

The moon’s associations with tides and blood make it feel like it’s present in nearly all of the poems in this book, even when it’s not explicitly mentioned. Poets love the moon, and I’m no different. The alliteration between these cornerstone images sealed the deal for the title.

ED: Can you speak more about “Southern Nostalgia” and how it portrays a moment when the speaker feels the weight and ties of their ancestry colliding with modern society’s shortcomings, especially around “survivor’s guilt and imposters syndrome”?

AC: The hook for Jay-Z’s “Story of O.J.” was the starting point for this poem. Even if you’re mixed, lightskin, whatever—people still have the one drop attitude. You still feel the fear when the red and blue lights shine in your rearview. Colorism is a disease, and surviving getting pulled over in the middle of nowhere—when so many people you love wouldn’t—is a symptom of it. Of course you’re relieved, but that relief is tempered by survivor’s guilt. Code-switching lies at the heart of this piece because, to paraphrase Trevor Noah, speaking someone’s language makes them feel safe around you, even as a stranger. So often, cops skirt justice by crying that they had feared for their lives. If speaking to them in a familiar tongue will put them at ease enough to let you go with just a ticket, it’s an avenue of survival—but one that feels like a betrayal, nonetheless.

ED: There is a recurring theme of religious references and prayers laced with personal experience—how does religion play a role in the journey of finding oneself?

AC: Religion has its place in people’s lives, and the path to finding myself happened to be the one meandering out of it. Growing up in the Catholic Church means that a lot of the traditions, cadences, and prayers have taken up real estate in my brain that can never be removed—so I renovated.

ED: You craftily mix Spanish, slang, and English words in some of your poems. What is the significance of this or the intended impact on the reader?

AC: My Spanish is not what it used to be after years of living and working in predominantly white, English-speaking spaces. Mixing languages is for myself and readers who similarly struggle with a language they were once raised in—maybe a moonbeam guiding us slowly back to fluency.

ED: “Cup Runneth Over” is the shortest piece, and is written in a very raw, relatable form. What was the thought process behind this piece and how does it fit with the others? Is this piece a shifting point in some way, considering its placement in front of “Boihood”?

AC: I placed it in front of “Boihood” precisely because people menstruate regardless of their gender presentation. Menstruation interrupts your life every month, and ignoring it in a collection that’s so intensely personal would feel like a serious omission. Also, it’s shaped like a menstrual cup, y’all.

ED: “On Hurricane Season” describes your love/hate relationship with Texas. Has the way you view your birthplace continued to change over the years?

AC: I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to definitively feel one way about it. Texas is a complicated place, both horrific and ecstatically beautiful. How much I miss it fluctuates frequently.

ED: Who is “A Letter Home” addressed to?

AC: My family.

ED: Even when you traveled halfway across the world to Germany, you still found a connection to hurricane season in “And the Tide Goes Out.” Can you elaborate on the relationship?

AC: There’s a strangely European attitude to racism—that it’s a problem in the US and the UK, but other countries have solved it (they haven’t). The motif of hurricanes in this poem is a callback to an older poem that I’ve somewhat retired; the lines about history being an ocean of hurricanes repeating itself are lifted from it. Domestic work has always been split along racial and class lines. During the pandemic, I paid bills by cleaning and babysitting for wealthy white women who were astonishingly comfortable delegating their domestic work solely to women of color. They probably thought they were being generous and progressive, giving Black and Brown immigrant women/femmes jobs, never once considering that they were just playing into the ongoing normalization of BIPOC in subservient roles in their households. The half-white, half-Black person working (or being forced to work) in the house is an old story, but one that persists, even in modern Europe—they were the creators of the Middle Passage, after all.

ED: “If Not Anger Then What” came off more cryptic to me than other pieces. Would you elaborate on the meaning and inspiration behind it, including the quote before the poem?

AC: I cannot recommend Krista Franklin’s poem “Marie Says Bow Down”highly enough. It pays homage to an apocryphal story about Marie Laveau hosting a gathering of Black folks, and the mere gathering itself being enough to excite the whites into calling the cops—hence, the line quoted at the beginning. Queer spaces have a similar history of being heavily policed when people are minding their own business and living their lives, and every form of protest is slowly being legislated out of existence. Marsha P. Johnson threw a brick that paved the way to the present, and I liked the idea of that brick being part of the Yellow Brick Road that’s gotten us to where we are. We still have far to go, but throwing bricks is illegal now, which gives way to even heavier policing. If we are not allowed to feel or express our anger at being harassed and murdered for being who we are, then what?

ED: There seems to be some juxtaposition in your writing between your Texan and Afro-Latine roots. I noticed it in “Southern Nostalgia” in lines such as “the legacy sewn to my tongue louder / than any of the blackest things about me” and “he is my father John the doctor, / who hates illegal immigration, / loves my immigrant mother.” How do you navigate these contrasting backstories?

AC: I’ll have an answer when I can stop writing about it.

Read Machete Moon here.

Texas-born, Afro-Latine poet, editor, performance artist, and educator Arielle
Cottingham
 has toured four continents in five years, giving performances and teaching
workshops across Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia. Their work explores the
fluidity of intersectional identities and has appeared in multiple literary journals both online
and in print. Notable performance spaces have included 48H Neukölln, the Alley Theatre,
Glastonbury, the Museum of Old & New Art, and the Sydney Opera House, where they
won the title of Australian National Poetry Slam Champion in 2016. Their work has been
published in literary journals including Stellium Literary JournalBOOTH, Pressure Gauge
Press
, and About Place Journal, and their chapbook, Black and Ropy, was published by Pitt
Street Poetry in 2017. They are currently pining for falafel at their desk in Berlin.

Emily DeYoung is a student of the world from Michigan, who travels as often as possible. She has been to over 25 countries since graduating high school, and uses the people, places, and small moments she experiences for inspiration when writing. Emily has one published poetry collection, How the Wind Calls the Restless, which won first place in the Writer’s Digest 30th Annual Self-Published Book Awards Contest last year (2021). She loves reading memoir, camping, large dogs who think they are lap-sized, and listening to classic and punk rock.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Shade of Blue Trees by Kelly Cressio-Moeller, released by Two Sylvias Press in 2021.

Waiting for Charon in the ER

	Bad news is always arriving. ~Adrienne Rich

Make a fist.
The ambulance ride
begins with a deep poke
into a surprised vein.
Open. Close.
Time-lapse photography.
A lotus unfurling
in my palm. I see
sunlight breaking through crowns
of eucalyptus, breathe
oxygen through a tube.
I’d recognize his face
anywhere: paramedic Gauguin,
Civilization is what makes you sick.
Is that why your Christs are yellow and green?
Yes, and blue trees.
What of the red door in the forest?
We are never out of the woods.
Gurneys glide gondola-quiet
through corridored canals.
An oarsman ferries me
into an X-ray room.
His shark tooth bracelet clangs
against the metal buoy.
I want to dive
into his seafoam scrubs,
breaststroke into March.
The doctor orders a rainbow
belt of slender vials.
She pockets my blood
in her jungle print top, swings
on a vine, disappears
into Rousseau’s foliage. I don’t
see her again for 2 hours.
She’s consulted the gorilla
who was sitting on my chest.
I eat red Jell-O with a spork.
Time drifts through saline solution.
A slow drip counts the day’s small hours.
I have the room to myself.
So tempting just to lie
there waiting, stock-still
with a coin in my mouth.

Kelly Cressio-Moeller is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net, and have appeared widely in journals and at literary websites including Gargoyle, North American Review, Poet Lore, Salamander, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Water~Stone Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others. An associate editor at Glass Lyre Press, she lives in the Bay Area. Shade of Blue Trees from Two Sylvias Press (Finalist for the Wilder Prize) is her first poetry collection.

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 jordialonsopoet.com

Sundress Reads: Review of Bird Body

Content warning: Sexual assault mentioned

A sketched bird lies in the center of the book cover amid drawn ferns. Bird Body is written above in lowercase italics. Below the image is written "poems by Zoë Fay-Stindt"

What does it mean to inhabit a woman’s body in a world that tries to break it? This is what Zoë Fay-Stindt explores in their poetry chapbook, Bird Body. Fay-Stindt weaves intricately between birds and the stories of women to shine a light on women’s and femme’s experience in our misogynistic world. Fay-Stindt writes of the speaker’s emotional pain and exhaustion following their sexual assault. Here, healing can take the form of being picked apart by birds even as our speaker is devastated by their own inability to help others with their pain.   

Birds, Fay-Stindt appears to say, have levels of meaning and such a depth of representation that even we are birds. Sometimes we are brutal, then too-easily crushed by the world, yet containing within the cages of our ribs wrathful howls and cries of mourning and the ability to, despite it all, keep “opening [our] eyes every morning.” In such exploration, Fay-Stindt offers us the great gift of understanding what it is to survive in our problematic world.

Much of the chapbook is around the assault of the speaker and the emotional aftermath, although the assault is itself never described in much detail. Instead, much of the focus is on the effects and the ways that society compounds them by teaching the speaker to invalidate her own experience, even telling her (when she does begin to write about it in poetry) that she speaks of it too much. Bird Body dives deep into the emotional effects of something that is so innate to many women’s experiences, as 1 out of 6 women in the U.S. face sexual assault in their lifetime and 90% of sexual assault victims are women (“Scope of the Problem: Statistics.” RAINN).    

In “that’s it, now” Fay-Stindt compares the speaker to the mourning dove in her grief and exhaustion, imploring the reader to not pity the dove (or, perhaps, the woman) as she weaves laments yet still opens her eyes each morning, holding her “tremor and her great loud voice / in the same body.” This emotional depth and exploration makes clear the impact of an event that many still invalidate, bringing forth shockwaves from the event in all directions so that it can be fully felt—and understood—by the reader.

Bird Body also looks at the way terrible events echo backward, affecting the speaker long before it even happened through the fear women must live with. Through such writings, Fay-Stindt connects us in community, building bridges between us in order to share often overlooked and unspoken experiences. Fay-Stindt writes of the prelude to the rape, “I’ve been training for a lifetime—my body / knows the drill: I won’t yell. Instead, / offer a bargain: not tonight, or I promise / I’ll make it better next time, or I owe you one.” As a woman, this line had a profound effect on me because it touched on something not often discussed; the way that we spend our lives preparing for the possibility of an assault, finding responses to catcalls and men who approach us, finding the ways to battle our own instincts of rage in an attempt at survival. And this prevalence makes it all the more necessary to discuss.

Fay-Stindt expands the examination to include our human fallibility, broadening the chapbook’s relevance for all potential readers. They write in “a robin at the bus station” of the devastating inability in the face of others’ pain to do more than “build beds, soft spaces to land,” and show how our best attempts at help can make matters worse when the speaker accidentally kills a robin in “swallow.”

Yet, as the chapbook explores, there is so much more to a woman’s experience. From their relationship with their mother, to breast cancer, to pap smears, to finding a connection with and healing in nature, to having one’s body picked apart and prodded like it’s nothing more than a vessel, Fay-Stindt touches on much important and often-overlooked aspects of what it means to be a woman or femme in their poems.

But let us not evade how the speaker’s body is treated as a visceral vessel throughout. Their body is picked apart by a heron, washed clean, then squeezed and entered by a doctor during a pap smear. In this way, although both situations are geared toward healing, a comment is made on the objectification of women and femmes as nothing more than a body, how they are treated as such by society.

Bird Body is a vital read since it shows these experiences without flinching away, and makes obvious that you cannot completely tell a woman’s story—or understand it—without showing the grief, the connection to nature, our helplessness to aid each other, our objectification by society, and so much more. Fay-Stindt creates a vibrant, moving ode to women, femme people, and our bodily experiences by shining the spotlight on aspects of our lives that are often overlooked, and in so doing allows us to understand ourselves, and even humanity in all of its cruelty and struggle.   

Bird Body is available at Cordella Magazine


Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Macon Sex School by Marjorie Becker


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from The Macon Sex School: Songs of Tenderness and Resistance by Marjorie Becker, released by Tebot Bach in 2020.

The Dearest Dark

He wanted her naked as thoughts of theft,
he wanted her naked as garden light,
her flowers bursting forth, her breeze,
he wanted and waited to sing her soul,
symphonic flurry, sudden, long,
and as she somehow simmered, sighed,
and as she knew the plot, the thighs,
the under mist, the utter mist,
he sang his hope, his hail, his throng
of deepest dark, of dearest debt
of unknown pleasures ripening. 

Marjorie R. Becker is a Macon, Georgia native and the author of Setting the Virgin on Fire: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán Peasants and the Redemption of the Mexican Revolution (UC Press, 1996); the forthcoming Dancing on the Sun Stone: Mexican Women and the Gendered Politics of Octavio Paz (University of New Mexico Press, 2022); and the poetry collections Body Bach (2005), Glass Piano/Piano Glass (2010,) and The Macon Sex School: Songs of Tenderness and Resistance (2020), all published by Tebot Bach.

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 jordialonsopoet.com

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Macon Sex School by Marjorie Becker


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from The Macon Sex School: Songs of Tenderness and Resistance by Marjorie Becker, released by Tebot Bach in 2020.

Traipse, then Tremble

Pursue my step
into a realm of sex of pools of light

that near the water’s open eye
within a field that lures me shyly

toward a naked swim;
a step that stumbles

toward a liquid, liquored sigh
the water’s open eye conspires

to reach, to cling . . .

Marjorie R. Becker is a Macon, Georgia native and the author of Setting the Virgin on Fire: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán Peasants and the Redemption of the Mexican Revolution (UC Press, 1996); the forthcoming Dancing on the Sun Stone: Mexican Women and the Gendered Politics of Octavio Paz (University of New Mexico Press, 2022); and the poetry collections Body Bach (2005), Glass Piano/Piano Glass (2010,) and The Macon Sex School: Songs of Tenderness and Resistance (2020), all published by Tebot Bach.

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 jordialonsopoet.com