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Alexis Orgera



For light doth seize my brain

With frantic pain.

            —William Blake



       In the uncut gray

of pulled blinds you’ve become

something else—


the bedroom’s dirty secret—

in a darkness bath, you and not you.


The galvanized metal dissolver of faith,

a half-life of afghan and dust mote.


No one peels away the pain

of two sickles in one eye, one blind eye.


Liar of air, migraine. Fakir of sound.

Twelve clicks of the metronome and you’re done,

gone, flicked like a moth from the light of the sun.


No one here is having fun.


Not living but breathing

beneath garbled pantheons

of laundrydrying, grassgreening in the heat


that gives way to the dew

which gives way to the drink

that only the tiniest creature tongues.


Nowhere near finished, this blocked passage

of cerebellum. Thank you, no,

says the ache behind the rightest eye.


I, oh righteous eye. Riotous above the clouds.


Your doppelganger speaks only to lie:

I am not the woman who made you feel the pain of this.


Not I, said the pain. Not I, says your twin.


I am not she. Not she-goat. She storm. She brave

atop the waves of circumferential silence

that does not exist


except in the head of the thing alive in your head,

that rears its ugly head

from the Venetian blinds, the blinding day-


light just like every other day,

helicopters blazing the shoreline.

Just like every other day, punctuated by anvil.


You know that death doesn’t taste

like tablespoons of raw salt nor sewer nor rat


bludgeoned in the ear in the back yard

of peopleliving. It undulates,

coagulated oil on hot stones.           


You are the Queen of the fabulatory moan.


An empty set of sleeves, a coercer

of smallness, darkness, and of easychairs.


You are someone else, and she screams

out of you,


Give me space and breath!

Don’t leave! Don’t leave! Come back

to sour smelling sheets


—as if they’re not your sheets—


to counting viscous sheep

though you’ve been counting sheep all day—

to my hollow-bleating, massive pleading bed—


Your bed. Your unmade bed—


Come back green or hoarse

or clown—your nonsense—come back with your woolen,

stolen frown. Come back! Tell me


I’m no good—

But it’s you she’s talking to—

I’m faking! I’m faking! Tell me that—

But you can’t, you know she’s not—


But don’t leave, but do.

Leave me counting upside down.

Leave me a history of women burned.


Tell me then that I’m a fake.

Leave me to the moth’s pale light—

Go have your life. Go have your night—

You’ll come back!


And you will—







When I was a dreaming kid

I could close my eyes and trust

that outer space was a million incisors

chomping away at the void.

Even now, poking at my eyelids in the dark

I see computer-screen-blue and wonder,

Can anyone else see me glow?

When I was a stupid kid

Pepe le Pew nailed me to the floor

of a dumpster. Last night

was no different: a movie star shot rolled quarters

at a store clerk. My bank-robber

cousin vomited household appliances

all over her jail cell. Some days all you want

is to sleep and dream proper dreams

of going naked to school or flying

over mass-produced suburbs.

But mastering dreams is like raising the dead.

I won’t lie. I’m laden

with birdcages holding babies with claws

and wings. Full of bayou graves.

When I close my eyes the chimera

wrangles for a place at the table. I’m stocked

to the gills with doppelgangers. In a world

dressed up in gradients of black and gray, I stumble

over toothy faces in the dark

like a gullible toddler, and what’s worse is—

trusting and stupid and dead-sleep-walker

that I am—sometimes I recognize in them

the only radiant color left

in this whole goddamn universe.

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