The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


PLAY

I feel a sudden poem coming on,
new lines that dance their way across this page
to show all other poems how it’s done,
familiar yet so comfortably strange,

so new. This poem wants to skip and run,
to act unruly, truant, underage,
skipping school to lie out in the sun,
avoiding me because I’m prone to rage

at it. But all this poem wants is fun,
and nothing I can do will keep it caged—
no threat will keep this poem quiet, stunned
by my demands. It won’t live off the stage,

not cowed, not scared, not satisfied to stay
unrecognized. Without me, it still plays.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


Spoon

When I think of its silver shape, its arch and curve,
its shiny belly eager for my soup, I cannot help
but be excited, knowing the promise of nourishment

to come. I love its metal cold against a mound
of vanilla covered in an avalanche of chocolate syrup,
or hot with broth so laden with noodles

it’s more noodle than soup, each curvy twist
better than the last. I cannot love a plastic one.
My spoon must have permanence—surviving

and outlasting bad radio songs and difficult
skirt lengths, must be the right fit for my hand,
elegant—not too tiny, not too immense. It must

take what I want to shovel in my mouth
without being a shovel, must be more like a star,
my pleasure its only purpose. It must wait

patiently among spiky forks and treacherous
knives, knowing I will come for it once, twice,
three times a day. It must stir everything I want

and never complain. I hang it off my tongue, let
it slide down until I catch it, make it blend
what’s separate into a whole only I’ll consume.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


After Learning that Stanza Means “Room” in Italian

Outfit a poem as you would a home:
move in what’s difficult, what’s more serene
to rooms you wander through to make your own.

Seek words as wild as textures—chintz to chrome,
from plush velvet to slickest gabardine.
Outfit a poem as you would a home.

Lay down your remnants, hang up what you have sewn,
a cloth of words as crisp as crinoline
in rooms you wander through to make your own.

Take all your boxes, all that you’ve outgrown,
and carry those in too, those old routines.
Outfit a poem as you would a home.

Then sort through what you have, all you have known,
and fill the apt spaces, all those gaps between
those rooms you wander through to make your own.

There’s nothing in your life you must disown;
equip this house with everything you’ve seen.
Outfit a poem as you would your home—
loved rooms you wander through, then make your own.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


Aquaphobia

In my dreams I am always drowning,
always that scared girl, toes curled over
the edge of a public pool, suit straps
sliding off my shoulders, fearful

all the boys will see her flat chest,
ruffled two-piece suit soggy, sweaty.
Always the water churns an ugly
blue, chlorine gagging my breathing,

making me turn my head and cough
like at the doctor’s, except no kindly
nurse hands me a sucker here.
Instead, I’m the sucker—so afraid

of sinking that I’m ripe for any
troublemaking boy to trip and push
me into that city pool where the signs
above say NO RUNNING

NO HORSEPLAY NO SPITTING
Swim At Your Own Risk
And before I can say no,
I’m a sunken stone, heavy

but flailing, a skinny bag
of bones, terribly uncute.
Is it any wonder now, adult,
I cannot even float,

that the swim instructor, baffled,
wonders aloud how can you run
and bike but not swim?
I laugh, tell her I don’t trust water,

and really, I don’t—it lies about
how deep it is, comes crashing
uninvited into basements,
aids and abets hurricanes.

No one should trust anything
that beautiful that causes
that much damage, anything

capable of bloating you up,
soaking you dead, leaving
you wasted on the shore.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


In My Early Teens, I Actually Listened to This Thing Called Radio

What a magic box an ordinary girl like me could possess—
rigid black rectangle on my rickety student desk,
music thumping the particleboard surface where I

sweated through algebra and trigonometry, tapping
my nubby pencils to beats I found on AM and FM
—Jersey jazz from WBGO, neon-coated new wave

from WLIR, WBLS still soulful after all these years.
Long before LPs and cassette singles, podcasts
and long-players, I’d hold up my tape recorder

to the mesh speakers of my family’s console stereo,
wooden bulwark in the midst of our living room,
taping songs from faraway stations, spooling music

into memory and muscle, swaying to whatever
I could find by twirling its sticky knobs from
one end of the dial to the other, skipping dj chatter

and department store jingles, news bulletins
and weather reports. What I really wanted to hear
was Weather Report—Zawinul and Shorter

and Pastorius giving us the pure jazz high of “Birdland,”
six minutes of surge and urge and hallelujah,
or Phoebe Snow—high priestess of soul

who I swore was a black woman—singing about
that poetry man I hoped to find in my arms one day.
Even the disco rumble of WKTU made me happy,

Salsoul Orchestra making a shimmer of my
awkward shimmies and struts. Later I found
record stores, library and rummage sales,

loved any place full of music I could own,
sink into through headphones, hoarding discards
and discounts, stealing albums from my older sister’s stash.

Years later I still sing songs I stole
from the radio’s waves, dragged along by lust,
musical greed, and the need to sing at any given sorrow.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.