Excerpt: Laura Madeline Wiseman

From She Who Loves Her Father

A Contemplation of Murder (or Desert Blood)

  1. Total adopted babies: imagined 2; murdered 1; potential 2.
  2. Collapse into (Brigit, Raquel)’s arms. Avoid (cowboy, crooked cop)’s arms. Wish for (your mother, your little sister)’s arms.
  3. Try browbeating. Try rumored clubs. Try decoding bathroom graffiti. Re-try Raquel. Try morgues. Try TV personalities. Try drag queens. Try drug dealers. Try to find your sister.
  4. Add a habit: detective work or tequila, smoking or dissertating procrastination—don’t stop dissertating.
  5. Learn to read the right code: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.”—“Poor Juarez, so close to Hell, so far from Jesus.”—“Poor Juarez, so far from the Truth, so close to Jesus.” Translate, and the bad guys reaching for you.
  6. Balance poignant anti-detective experiences: reunions, dead maquiladora women, Ms. truth, ABD. With poignant anti-heterosexual experiences: thwarted border adoption, Xena, frantic partner phone calls, chinos. With poignant happily ever afters: physical therapy, counseling, rabies shots, familia.
  7. Always know what country you’re in.
  8. Make crime fighting a thing of the past. Write on backs of flyers. Bully priests. Ask the right questions. Hound baristas. Use the internet, the newspaper, your gut. Get yourself almost killed, twice. Lose a cowboy. Re-discover the enemy of cowboys, especially a Texan in a camel-colored hat.
  9. Multiply attacks by dogs with gunpoint stand-offs.
  10. Discourage easy answers. Inspire fear of infinite variables. Be a hero, but not. Stop a murder, but only one. Finish a dissertation. Finish a solution, but first solve for violence, solve for rape, solve for drugs, solve for your sister.

Guilt Dream: Doing This to Myself

I want to do it quickly. all the boxes queued up by the door. The fire burns in the hearth. Cats play jack-in-the-box. I fantasize about the end like a lover who wants me on her fast, long, and winding. How lands will part eagerly for my coming. Hills and trees will quiver in anticipation as my heart slows. But that’s still days away. I can’t eat. My flesh wastes. The lover has relinquished all to me. I want to fling off the land, the house. I want it to be yesterday. Then, I can mourn properly, twist it inside my mind to see how it was to me now. But I’ve got to get gone first. Follow those tracks arrowing me away to the place they’ll never find.

Published first in Poemeleon. Watch Laura Madeline Wiseman read this poem.

Mummy Treatment

It will be hard not to talk. No one will question you.
Before silence, you spoke without pause to log your day.

You will forget how to mix poison, where the amulets
are kept, or that palms raised and facing you mean stop.

Though you once rambled about this and that, after one week,
your, What do we have here? response reduces to a half grimace.

On day twenty you allow yourself to moan to an empty room
because a book on grave robbers made you choke like a teenager.

The cat came over to watch you fight to clear your throat.
You discover words escape your tongue in a dark hall

or when you hear a knock after midnight.
You might think you’re yelling, but it’s barely a whisper.

Before you reach the stillness of a fifth week, you find
it is difficult to say, thank you, to attendants at your door.

When you pause before a museum display
you will know for the first time you are not alone.

Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. She is the author of five chapbooks, including the recent collections Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Ghost Girl (Pudding House Publications, 2010), and My Imaginary (Dancing Girl Press, 2010). A sixth chapbook She Who Loves Her Father is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press, a seventh chapbook The Puppet Wife is forthcoming from Pudding House Publications, and a full-length collection, Sprung, is forthcoming from San Francisco Bay Press. She is also the editor of the anthology Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence forthcoming from Blue Light Press in 2013.

Her poetry has appeared in Margie, Poet Lore, Cream City Review, Pebble Lake Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Her prose has appeared in Arts & Letters, Spittoon, Blackbird, American Short Fiction, 13th Moon, and elsewhere. Her reviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Poetry Review, 42Opus, and elsewhere.

She has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, a Will P. Jupiter Award, a Susan Atefact Peckham Fellowship, a Louise Van Sickle Fellowship, several Pushcart Prize nominations, and grants from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Focus for the Arts, and the Center for the Great Plains Studies.

She Who Loves Her Father is set to be released by Dancing Girl Press in early June and can be pre-ordered here.

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