Excerpt: Laura Madeline Wiseman
My Imaginary Cock Dresses for Halloween Holy the cocks of the grandfathers of Kansas! ~Allen Ginsberg My imaginary cock mans the bedroom closet. My cock pitches costumes: a Renaissance frock, a wand capped with a star, a fairy princess skirt, a witch’s conical hat and bodice laced in webs. I’ll find the perfect thing for us,my cock says. I sit criss-cross on the feather mattress and toy with a satin garter and thigh-high seamed tights. I catch a ruby slipper lobbed from the hope chest. I could be Dorothy, I say and tug from the pile a blue jumper with a blouse snug at the neck. My imaginary cock says, No, you can’t. We’ve got to match and I’m going as a weapon. From a crate I yank out a coiffed auburn do. Please, I beg. I scamper to the make-up trove and return with fire engine red lipstick. My cock says, Absolutely not. I can’t be a bayonet in the Emerald City. Nor can I be a cannon on the yellow brick road. How can I be a handgun in Oz? My cock emerges girdled in crinoline, cowboy boots, and a mustache. I open the armoire for a pair of bobby socks. Listen, I say, It will be fun. I assemble my Halloween garb on the comforter. I hum the 1939 film’s classic theme song. I’ll be from Kansas and you can be Toto. First appeared in Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems. Ellen Foos, Vasiliki Kasarou, and Ruth O’Toole, Eds. New Jersey: Ragged Sky Press, 2009. Real Toads, Real Gardens My imaginary cock and I walk the dog. It’s nice, sixties. We argue over the garden. My cock insists on peas. I don’t like peas. I offer onions, green beans, and bell peppers. My cock demands squash, but I prefer to carve pumpkins in queer faces. Then it’s zucchini, which tastes awful. Herbs, I say, I’ll plant lots of fresh herbs. Radishes, my cock counters, asparagus. I throw my cock a bone and agree to potatoes. My cock ignores me, points out the tight maple buds the green solitary fingers of daffodils. Soon, my cock says, all this will be ours. Then my cock gestures wildly at an oak with suburbia creatures I can’t see. Pay attention, my cock chastises. I look anywhere but at my cock. I study power lines, the slate of humid sky. I admit I feel like a slave, a nitwit to a god. I press my mouth in a line, squish acorn hats as my cock dribbles on about conquering the world. First published in The DuPage Valley Review, 2008. My Imaginary Cock Goes on Crusade My imaginary cock packs a wool hood and hose, a tunic, linen breeches, a surcoat, and a battle axe in a carry on. I throw a gauntlet on the bed and say, The crusades are over. My cock blanches, But I need to make a name for myself. In the closet my cock magically finds a lance, plate armor, and chain mail. Onto the bed pile more and more knight gear: a joust, jerkins, even a saddle for an Arabian fighting horse. You can’t stop me, my cock says, I bought tickets to England. Into an army duffle go public library books: Idylls of the Kings, The Mists of Avalon, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I sigh. The shrink told me last week to, go along with it. So, into a knapsack: cheese curls, jerky, and mixed nuts. The website notes no delays. The taxi promises five minutes. Bring me back a souvenir, I whisper and kiss my cock atop the head. I offer a red silk favor to remember me by. My imaginary cock blushes, throbs, and begins to weep. I decide then and there, between the wet-spots of tears and the padded and jeweled codpiece, to let my cock go. First published in Sojourn: A Journal of the Arts, Vol. 22, 2009.
Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. She is the author of six collections of poetry including the full-length book, Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and the chapbooks Farm Hands (Gold Quoin Press, 2012) and She who Loves Her Father (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). She is also the editor of the forthcoming anthology Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Blue Light Press, 2013). Her poetry has appeared in Margie, Feminist Studies, 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.
Sprung is available now at Amazon.