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Four poems by Alexandria Peary

Analysis of A Poem on the Tablecloth

I.e.: Cezanne apples, Botero oranges, Roy Lichtenstein grapes,

Williams plums, a Gertrude Stein carafe in a poem on the tablecloth.

Re: A bowl of poems, color modulated melody

and objects avoiding personification,

the dish celestial blue and the oranges obese,

the plums lecherous and the apples suffering vertigo

b/c of the tablecloth, the slopes of the fabric

like a terrain windblown, rocky, with a survey of clouds,

lavender growing at the base, a tablecloth made from freewriting.

C/o fruit drawn in with a Bic ballpoint, fruit mentioned near a Mont Blanc

punctuated by clouds: % lemon and pewter ampersand, commas

on either side of the cobalt water pitcher,

blind copied and in the subject line

& all the other writing that exists alongside, between, near,

before, after, above, under, inside, around a finished poem,

those white bands of sentences, but also a strip from a user’s agreement,

another from a romance novel, shiny, recycled, metallic, patterned, dented

aluminum sentences or lines with edges curling upward

from a grant application, a wedding announcement, a monograph on immigration policy.

Hills of Bureaucracy

In the event

that the engagement

shall be prevented

by reason of war,

Act of God, strike,

civic tumult, epidemic

or any other cause

beyond the control

of either agreeing party,

which is deemed

to be “force majeure,”

the agreed parties

shall be respectively

relieved of their obligations

contained herein and

return to the rolling hills

of bureaucracy,

a deep green field

of barley, more hills

with hay bales, no sky:

an argyle of crops,

following emergency exits

and evacuation plans

to the long and winding

road that leads

to your door.

That would be 15 A

on the updated form,

the red door

with a mat and rack

for your shoes

of a cottage in the village.

Let the minutes state

you’ve had a tiresome

journey through various causes

on the lengthy lavender road

past blaze orange fields

that shall include revolutions,

riots, wars, acts of enemies,

national state local

emergency, strikes,

floods, fires, epidemics,

quarantine, embargoes,

or unusually severe weather,

and that we’re not responsible

or liable for any loss

or damage, for delays

in performance

or failure to perform.

The 10 point font path

has brought you to the Open Forum

on Comprehensive


where the committee

invites input from the whole

community about where

we are at and where

we should go,

which thatched houses

for which gas stations

in the settlements of

educational plans, mission

statements, internal hiring.

The designated spokesperson

from the institutional

advancement office is explaining:

This is a plan for all

of us. A family reunion

hosted by Human Resources

in partnership

with Business Intelligence,

Focus on Core Academic Function,

so the member

at the back of the conference room

knitting wooly yarn clouds

as stress relief

should get a grip.

We’ve all stopped

our planting in favor

of administering to

attend this conference

on the administration of planting,

Cc: all: the assistant to, vice-,

associate, interim, acting,

chief, head of, associate director.

Staples for vineyards.

Collated construction

plans are in departmental

mail boxes. Approving

the minutes from yesterday,

let’s send the next presenter back

like a salmon stunned w/ frustration

who weeps with frustration

into the whirling vortex

of a policy about policy,

a few hay bales,

shade trees for cattle

or the sub-committee to

this committee,

though Party 1 is not a fish

but a person who must drive

back in his rental Kia,

the application form

was incomplete.

Next order of business:

those ornamental wild

grasses planted

last year for the parade,

tall, on the highway divide

on Route 2 South,

junction of JFK Boulevard

and South Main,

a deathtrap or death wish?

Not an Official Communication

the phish is served beside the spam,

the ham salad near the Jell-O mold near the deviled eggs,

Lobster Thermidor in a warmer,

a roast chicken with white bonnets on its leg bones,

a Pepto Bismol pink chiffon cake

on a platter, the foods from foreign lands

canapé, pu pu platter, bagels, guacamole (pronounced

Gwah-ka-mo-lay we are told), Italian pizza, Welsh Rabbit, Chicken à la King

dished up with a Bundt cake, shrimp cocktail, Watergate salad,

Cheeseburger pie, Baked Alaska, another helping of Watergate salad.

I’d prefer to eat the gleam off these items

from a 1960s Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook,

the shiny parentheses, even the backspace.

Watch for common tricks:

the bowl of fruit that’s not really a bowl of fruit:

instead it’s scratch n’ sniff tutti frutti

partisan. Worse yet, the rot of authoritarian

slink under the pile. The messages often create

a sense of urgency or fear

by threatening to revoke account access

or pretending to be important notices

from payroll or human resources

such as it’s 6:21 at night and you’re still at work,

eating salad in Tupperware at your desk,

and your boss emails to say he’s in a meeting

and needs to speak with you immediately.

Turns out he needs you to run an errand for him,

buy Amazon gift cards for his son’s birthday party.

The recommended serving size changes according to the era.

For example, here’s a slice from before the 2016 election:

I was kidnapped. This elephant has been alone for 28 years. Want to get laid?

Ride a reindeer to work, Alexandria. Want to fight for wolves in court?

Another courtroom win for whales! Add your name if you’ll be watching tonight.

The next president of the United States. Let’s wing this thing. Let’s wipe out this killer.

This is a partisan witch hunt, Alexandria. Another trick to attack women’s health care.

For Feminist Friends. Don’t leave this until last minute. My brother has schizophrenia.

Alexandria, want to fly out to for the next debate. Let’s make history: Add your name.

It’s time to take back Congress. Rare wolves being hunted out of existence. STEM

is for boys and girls. Train wreck. The end for rhinos? This elephant has been alone

for 28 years. Be One of 30,000. Hi! Are you single. Flowers in Less Than 2 hours.

& a slice with green parsley asterisks from 2018-2019:

Giving Tuesday. Put down that wine bottle. You’re one of our biggest supporters. You are a winner. Winner N15887 Please Confirm. Business Deal for You. Work from Home. Progress doesn’t happen overnight. Make it One Term. 20% off and free shipping. Shhh Secret Sale inside. Stand out in a marshmallow world. Last Chance to Get Your Gifts. Should Congress stand up to the NRA? Smarter hiring. Trump’s Wall. Elect Women. Halfway to our Goal. You’re one of our biggest supporters. Investigation launched. Open this email. Insulin prices. Trump’s Twitter. Put down that wine bottle. Your donation record last year. Helpless whales trapped. Cold dogs. Cats Left Out in Cold. Chicken Slaughter. Coyote Whacking. Open this email. Longest Shutdown Ever. Want to run for office?

The same cloud passes overhead

above the subtitle of a sunrise

over a city made entirely from dots.

A standard cumulus but still imposing

yellow tower of thought

on the double spaced atmosphere

over the cliff face of a stanza,

hanging over an immense vault

of unused page space—

“The same cloud passes overhead”

Drive-by cloud,

over a torrent of leaves —Cloud crossing two time zones while carrying

and the blush of dawn. a stone arch—

Not the “docile clarity” of the cloud

from Francis Ponge’s “The Insignificant,”

—more as pastiche, appropriation, parody,

simulation, adaptation, recycling—

an emissary from Against Expression,

Unoriginal Genius, or Uncreative Writing.

By the end, the cloud occurs so often it becomes unfamiliar,

a could, a decrescendo

in white hallways to tomorrow,

zig zag sunset.

Alexandria Peary, MFA, MFA, PhD, serves as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire and is a 2020 recipient of an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship in support of her mindful writing workshops for survivors of the opioid crisis in her state. More info about her initiatives can be found @NHPoetLaureate and She is the author of seven books, including Control Bird Alt Delete (Iowa Poetry Prize); Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing; and The Water Draft. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in the Yale Review, The New York Times, North American Review, web Conjunctions, Southern Humanities Review, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, Gettysburg Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. A professor at Salem State University, she specializes in mindful writing, the subject of her TEDx talk, “How Mindfulness Can Transform the Way You Write”

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