This collection of sonnets about the adventures of an adult Alice, written by Garth, are an incinerating, exhilarating, and refreshing take on who we think Alice in Wonderland truly is. Garth shapes questions and answers in beautiful refrains and invocations as Aged Alice holds conversations with herself. The awareness and energy in these poems bounce between delicate to provocative. Alice is questioned (and by extension all of us), “Who are you? What do you love?” I certainly know that I love these poems and can’t wait to re-read this collection many times over and think of the times we were golden.
— Jane-Rebecca Cannarella, author of Better Bones (Thirty West Publishing House) and Thirst & Frost (Vegetarian Alcoholic).
Pet the Bunny
I used to serve in houses with hierarchies,
inhabitants instructed visitors
flown in like me for the ceremonies
where we were posed before inquisitors
the master chose to pet the bunny,
pull its hair, rip away the underwear,
how i would wiggle before them pink, the
excavated hidden heat, forbidden hair.
I was a ritual before I was
even there, something supple in a cage,
something legally of age, something paused
and poised in lights, something whose buried rage
you let loose some nights, then send me away
to woods befitting my naïveté.
I am a wanderer in proper dress,
sky blue you undo. Leave on the rest. Kneesocks,
buckled Mary Janes, prim adventuress,
who listens while you explain how a lock
should open for its key. Curtsey endears
though I’m almost 23, costume
removed, my Cheshire grin, erotic fear
when we begin, your formal sitting room,
black velvet chair compliments the ribbon
in my hair. Give me something to consume.
Wear a top hat, a look of doom. Smitten
silent I require parchment and a plume.
Inscribe it small for you, calligraphy,
then spread my legs while you will read eat me.
No matter how small your legs can curl up
someone else choses how you open and shut.
One brings a sea creature in a plastic cup
which, swallowed in secret, gestates in the gut.
Though on the outside you still seem demure,
what grows inside you is decidedly
impure, inured to violence, mature,
carnivorous teeth. It waits patiently
for invading meat it knows will arrive,
thrives on the feast. Until seclusion (its
famine) leaves you alone with a beast. Strive
for each breath as its circumference
increased. Not strong enough to leave your home,
you trade strange monsters for one you have grown.
Dirt on ivory carpet in the pattern
of toes, footprints en route from the French doors,
haphazardly closed, as if by a slattern
not a recluse; fenestrated view was your
exclusive use — until last night,
as the smudges profess. Somebody here
has something to confess, expressed in each blight
of earth which leads right to your bed, appears
to suggest egress instead of sleep
as you believed in a house you can’t leave,
prison of panic you have perceived. Deep
in a consciousness you cannot conceive
you wandered back to a vault you desert
without a memory except for the dirt.
Kill Your Darling
You taught me never to bury the lead,
to speak with audacity, to open
with greed for each morsel you would feed
me by hand, your pet pupil, housebroken,
to stroke and command. Train me to compose
without clothes on the floor, simplified
like the prose instructors adore. Dispose
of the ego. Trust — no need to verify.
Remain a secret until the day that
I die upon some hill, significance
known to you alone. I was an accident
deleted from your phone — then existence.
Bones form your initials across a green field.
I am the darling you should not have killed.