The Country Dog Review

Laura Madeline Wiseman

Self-Portrait

I dreamed I painted him killing me.

But hours earlier we’d climbed into bed together,
a few stray cars zipped on the street
with base whirling and the cats rattled the door,
slipping their paws underneath pathetically.
I could only spoon a pillow and snuggle in
to my half of the mattress and hope for better endings.
There was the ancient cottonwood loosing limbs,
a family plot filling up with our dead. No one
should die in Nebraska without a sketch
from some Saturday painter, an MFA student’s,
or the neighbor’s little girl, no death mask, no dirge.
Some marriages are accidents, some arranged,
and some, like the slip of a knife, choose us.

***

His Legs: Blue Jeans, Cuffs Rolled

Steady as Pantheon columns,
stone walls, a promise, a third I do.

I didn’t have sisters left, waiting
for me in some locked room.

They would always roll like two drumsticks,
they would start a rhythm, establish a baseline,
they would touch other men, other women, each other,
they would join with the music, muscle a strange pace,
like a heartbeat they would thrill me
with their firm insistence, a constant reminder,
they would revel above the dance floor,
they would skate the floor like a pond
spinning in the strobe, swirling
in the black light: they would make the air whip
and the waters churn, they would
rip trees from the ground.

Or are they the funnel, jade clouds parting,
the land my hard, solid, knowable body,
his legs a storm passing through the sky?

***

Widower

Below the photograph—a subway station and dead girls
in high fashion—and beneath a pile of band tee-shirts,
balled black socks and briefs, the blue couch, pressed
to one wall of a house that holds onto everything—albums,
drum sets, amps, guitar picks, wives—sighs with dust.
Few bed down here long, though he stretches out
with a beer as Radiohead rainbows melodies.
It’s been over a year now, still the tabby head butts
him and growls when the phone jingles, when it doesn’t.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013). She is the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, and Feminist Studies. She has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Prairie Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. She has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com

Read Jeffrey Hecker's interview with Laura Madeline Wiseman here.