Four Poems by Allyson Whipple

How you know you are one with your city

When you don’t wake up in your own

bed, when it’s a struggle to untangle

the lover’s knot, especially so

early, but you know immediately

which roads to take, even if you’ve

never been in this part of town.

When the pulse of the traffic 

beats slower than anticipated

you know which veins will move

faster, and just how to get there,

even though you’ve never used 

this exit ramp.

When you pass your street

the exact moment you would

have turned off it into

the torrent of cars, and know

the day won’t start

without you.


The dust is so thick, I can barely

see outside. My wife never cleans.

Neither do I. 

Good to each other,

bad to apartments.

Our home is not a temple.

It’s storage space for two

lives that never quite

intersect, that always

run parallel.

The cleaning supplies

have gone rancid.

Visitors try

to read the mess like

tea leaves, try 

to break a code

they cannot understand. 

Cleanliness in the house

means chaos in the heart.

This is how tension

gets dispersed: in scattered

papers, in flecks of dirt,

mold that revolts in 

the kitchen and conspires

with mildew in the bathroom.

There’s no time for 

the mess. When we finally

have hours alone, we shove

the piles out of our path,

let them carpet

the stained floor, 

become restored

in each other’s arms.


My body is a speakeasy

and nobody will tell you

the password, you have

to fumble your way in,

blind to the pleasure

spot and special

treatment, ignorant

of the layers of history.

My body is a speakeasy

and the bouncer in my brain

has sometimes let in the wrong


My body is a speakeasy

and even if what

I have to offer isn’t perfect,

you drink, and you drink

some more, and you’re grateful.

Sometimes, a man’s body

Which little boy left

his name on his paper

Usually it was me The little

girl whose hands made

sure her words took up 

all the space Hands that 

considered margins a 

wasteland to be conquered

That had no patience for an i

dotted with hearts

that had no patience

for dots at all

Or commas

Or double-spacing

In middle school kids said I
had dyke legs

and man arms

My mother

pressured me to ignore

them Said the hair

was not visible

She change her tune

when I was old 

enough to wait passively

to be asked on dates

She had me strip my hair

away like weathered carpet

It was not until I learned

to type that I preferred

the sight of my scrawl

on the page eager to

announce its presence

and shout my voice

over the uniform clicks and

monochrome fonts

I used to hide behind a 

curtain of curls

It wasn’t until

I sliced it all off that

I looked people in the eye

Free of the weight I

stood straight

It wasn’t until I grew

back the fibers of

my arms and legs that I 

learned where to find

men who didn’t judge

my body

A child in my neighborhood

asks once a week

Are you a girl

I do not always 

say yes

Allyson Whipple
lives in Austin, Texas, where she works in education. She has a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and an M.A. in English from Case Western Reserve University. Her poems have appeared in “Young American Poets”, “Carcinogenic Poetry”, “The Cleveland Review”, “TRIVIA: Voices of  Feminism”, “Southern Women’s Review”, and the “2012 Texas Poetry Calendar”. She is also the owner an primary contributor to “Literary Austin”, a blog she established to support local authors, publishers, and booksellers. You can read more about her work at

@2 years ago with 1 note
#allyson whipple #poetry #prohibition #marriage #lit #texas #feminism #bully 
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