March 7, 2016

Allison Whittenberg’s Politically-Charged Poetry

Allison Whittenberg’s Politically-Charged Poetry

“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” Jack Kerouac



The Quickening

Because I believe in perfection

I believe in abortion

Babies are asymmetrical

They/she/he/it squander

The silken grammar of routine

But, a fetus can be edited

Its absence assures a lacy indefectibility

In the vacuum, I can breathe

It’s not right

It’s not the right time

I don’t want to hunker down in Staten Island

Or be on bed rest

Or buy big clothes

Or rush to alter with a gown and a groom and a promise

With rice raining on me

like fallout.

I don’t want to be folk like my mother was folk.

Children growing out of her hairdo.

Dull eyes and unpainted nails.

Waking on the hour to feed.  Feeding. Always feeding the hungry.

The weeping.

Little ones pursuing happiness.

Little ones rob happiness.

Fuzzy fussy responsibilities piling like landfills

On and on and on, like a heartbeat.



Wait for Rain

They’d have to save all the whales before they get to prisoner’s rights. Still, to

protect the unborn I’m cuffed in front transported on a state bus.

Will the maternity ward be pastel blue or pastel pink? It’s institutional white. I’m no

angel. They are no monsters. They speak in a hush.

Going under, reminds me of the high life. Like a slap, his cry kills my buzz. We bond

for two years, then he’s off to his sentence.

The name I gave him won’t stay.

He won’t remember my scent.

He doesn’t have my eyes.

But maybe one day if he’s not shipped too far on a side street glazed with rain. I’ll

pass a stranger who won’t be.



At 21 Months

Little Boy with the heart shaped face

Already I’d like to fight every bully for you

Though slights at your age are just that

So slight

But that four year old Nazi who blocked your way at the sliding board

Deserves a beat down

Little boy with the heart shaped face

Already you lord over me.  I’m your genie sprung from the bottle

Providing you a dozen dinner options

Allowing you to settle on a meal of oyster crackers and ice cream

Little boy with the heart shaped face

Whose Charlie Chaplin falls scar

Breaking my heart over and over

You can talk but you won’t

Your letter recognition full of caprice – 2, 5, 6, 9, 10 Why?

Little boy with the heart shaped face

I know why some parents kill their young

But I’d rather love you to death…



The Black Writer

cold black words

corrupt the pale

virginity of paper

changing innocence

dark transforms it from

eden, with tiny letters

that mean something,

with quick hands, you

peck the nothingness

because you are inclined to tell

the world what’s on your mind

ruining the blank chastity of

empty whiteness


Words Leave Me Hungry

What do cannibals do about dinner

when there is nobody around?

I remember the first time I had sex only because

every other time was better.

Do all journeys last forever?

I don’t write much any more

just a line or two

per year

If the past is deep,

is the future shallow?

They don’t come,

the visions

All I see is nothing

And more nothing

It’s not like when I was young and throbbing

neath that body so much larger than mine

everything was bigger than me back then

bigger, bolder

There is no substitute for human contact

Words leave me hungry


“The Quickening” and “Words Leave Me Hungry” were published in Tacenda Literary Magazine, Copyright, Spring 2011, Allison Whittenberg. Used by permission of the author.


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Allison Whittenberg is the author of the Young-Adult books Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Sweet Thang and Tutored. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a Master of Arts in English, she taught in several colleges such as Drexel, Hamline, and University of Pennsylvania. An avid traveler, she’s visited all of the United States, along with Caribbean and Russia. You can find her books on Amazon.


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