Carol Alexander ~ Poems


This year, the pota­toes rot. The wind’s full of malice.
The judge notes among cer­tain birds unhinged movements
a hard­wired loop braid­ed from instinct and forecast.
Threaded saf­fron cro­cus bloom
delib­er­ate crowds dye­ing the flagstones.

Across coun­try, a daugh­ter is los­ing her hair;
the sum­mer before, she watched the wild rice harvest,
Ojibwe cou­ples shar­ing the labor
with a pole, a pair of wood­en sticks.
Having mat­ed very late, tele­scoped marriage
the can­cer sprout­ing insid­i­ous­ly, a pain in the side.

The judge no longer sits on the bench.
He still takes his boat out to the inlet
where weed fringe star­tles with cor­morants and loons.
Silver fish-head alms smack the brim­ming Sound;
he lures a shad­ow, charred wings of a sea crow
stretch­ing its gul­let to swal­low the future
sharp as a glimpse of glass eels
slow­ly absorb­ing greens and browns. The child’s irises
behind heavy glass­es, her deep embarrassment.

Between gull white and ink, these hours
are a blotched quar­to before indi­go era­sure, a sleep­ing tablet.
On this coast a child took her sacred breath, harp and rib,
and from bivalve lungs cried out in triumph.
Time now works in reverse, pyrrhic and remorseful.
He was pre­pared for the soul’s shear­ing away,
but fruit he’d reck­oned to taste, hand­ing the good plate on—
she will be all the mouths, all the hands raised over the water
ris­ing from sea cat­a­combs, then a wisp, a mack­er­el cloud.


At the Magic Mountain

I open my mouth to a frost.
My father dis­suades me from the creaky funicular—
dead, he con­tin­ues to give advice.

That per­fect cold couldn’t heal them.
Sharp crys­tals stung their eyes, the heights wind­ed them.

These are his tokens—near-fatal vial of horse serum
a Niagara post­card. At the edge, a shriek rough as crow’s.

A dream of sus­pend­ed time, the lodge
where fevers blushed at night, the com­mon maquillage.
I spent my gid­dy ado­les­cence there, cut­ting the pages with his knife.

My father half-way up on foot, blood in his boots
feels his chest flut­ter. His pock­et is warm with tobac­co ash.
The worst cas­es, he begins: with­out lips, eyes, skin.

I can’t climb any high­er. But we live long
he says, despite bad lungs, fran­tic hearts, sev­er­al oth­er things.

Thomas Mann in Los Angeles
walk­ing his poo­dle, serv­ing drinks to fel­low emigrés
could make me love the Hollywood Hills.

Something, maybe the ice, tried to kill Mann
the way my father near­ly plum­met­ed into the Falls.

These are words from the inter­stice, unspar­ing flints.
The lift by means of which we shall short­ly disappear.



To plan a city mod­u­lar and climate-proof
where we might endure as notes in the plan­gent scheme

archi­tects dress in the fur of bees
“car­ing” the hum(an) word.

Pollen, hon­ey, seal­ing wax.

The self, always the true foundress
lis­tens at night with head­phones so her love can stay asleep.

Up North a hunter shifts a cari­bou cow’s head
per­haps the soul will be flushed out, advent to round­ed indigo.

Or does this sig­nal Doomsday
calves wan­der­ing away, the skull an offer­ing too late…

still a red string binds us. Social animals,

should we go bod­i­less or remain choate material
how a herd seems all mahogany in drizzle,
sen­tient brico­lage, and the api­an world an inter­sti­tial convexity.

Two politics—many-fingered vs. a busy algorithm.
Soul shrift, sil­i­con, words coun­ter­feit­ed from organ­ic time.

Marking dis­tance by wing beats, by thunderclaps
off-cen­ter, prox­i­mal to the web

the delib­er­a­tion goes on and on.
Where will our interred souls go when bones bloom
through flood­ed earth. Could we remain essential

fig­ures fore­ground­ed in a field
rich in sun­ning sweet­ness or to each other

fossilized arti­fact.

Upload con­scious­ness until the machine itself melts down
dis­em­bod­ied once again. A cen­tu­ry coding

in vain hopes. Preferring to remain a child(less).
Love. the indomitable bees, con­cor­dant flowers.


The Wolf Man

What pos­ses­sion more complete?

The capac­i­ty to trans­form, to throw a gaze


Sun and Moon

a lim­i­nal­i­ty

how­ev­er ter­ri­fy­ing how­ev­er opaque that eye

cross­ing a bound­ary we can only observe

behind a screen.

Lycanthropic raider

ewes stir­ring uneasi­ly, pur­ple sleep


the beast-man can­not hide the orac­u­lar gleam

but envies stars

their mul­ti­plic­i­ty, disparateness;

with­out the con­stel­la­tions impos­ing a human order

it cross­es the open, a poor yet bru­tal thing.

Moors beneath a milky sky


after the wet sea­son, smeary cot­tage win­dows blind

the farm wife slip­ping on cracked boots

runs out with a torch

count­ing heads

and spies a bloody trail.

What spoilage’s in the air?

Crunching bones, clack­ing joints, a sati­at­ed howl.

A dance to the pulse-pat­tern in time.


Carol Alexander is the author of three poet­ry col­lec­tions, the most recent of which is Fever and Bone (Dos Madres Press). Her work appears or will appear short­ly in About Place Journal, Another Chicago Magazine, Asheville Poetry Review, Burningword Literary Journal, The Common, Delmarva Review, Denver Quarterly, Free State Review, Mudlark, Narrative Northeast, One, RHINO Poetry„ Split Rock Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Summerset Review„ Sweet Tree Review, Stonecoast Review,, Third Wednesday, Verdad, and oth­er won­der­ful jour­nals. With Stephen Massimilla, Alexander co-edit­ed the award-win­ning anthol­o­gy Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022). A fourth col­lec­tion of her poet­ry is due out in 2024 from Glass Lyre Press. Email at