Fall 2019, Volume 27

Poetry by Deborah Allbritain


It’s as if there never was a tipping point,

canopy bed with drawn curtains.

As if there was never a forest-acre,
a prince framed inside the winter trees, blue

eyeshadow sky. As if birds never fell through the center
of mums. What we thought was love,

turned mimic, turned
trickster-owl ironic: flammable, tedium, Drakkar Noir,

white cake. What we thought

was hive, sweet machinery, was television thrum,
wolfhounds every time I opened my

mouth, Anne Boleyn in the Tower.

Fairy Tale

The Kingdom, sieged and fallen,
     relies only on itself now, birds
fall head first

into the center of mums, April
     moves towards
the color

of calamity, even the rats sense it.

The castle, a fortress muted,
     acts like nothing is wrong.
Look at the couch

pillows, layered like raspberry
     cake for high tea.

He is not
coming back to the Kingdom
of make believe.

There was a tipping point
     and now there’s
no one

to answer to, only the cold’s
     grit, bulb
of the Queen’s frown.

And the King dethroned,
     rode off on a glass
horse, knowing

what was pillaged
     never returns. At vespers,
the grey entourage

of monks, lanterns spilling
yellow through old

pines ghost spines, tired
Queen: No one is coming.

Why You Try Starving

The first time you see him with his new wife
you Google ways to starve.
Begin with the baby food diet.

If puree doesn’t agree,
there’s the one created by the French,
water, juice, pears.

Pretend to eat your food, hold a loaded
spoonful near your mouth. Set it down.

As a last resort there’s the five-bite plan.
Coffee, allowed.

When you dine out, say vegetarian.
It will make things easier.

View your back as blade, bird body begging
the earth to hold it.

What will they do with you,
withdrawing into empty folds, raggedy sleeves.
your bare foot dragging a church bell.


Here’s how I
sip my coffee in the garden,
watch orioles
feed on orange slices—

Sit in the kitchen,
alstroemeria summer on the table,
window seat pillow and one
blue coaster—silence.

Drive into town for merlot
jasmine reek and no stomach
for the radio silence.

Late bath with
moonlight through bamboo, the night’s
reading finished, curled
in the king-sized abyss—

Café Busto

How objects he’s left behind have stopped their claiming, 
the purge of toasters, of elk heads, rattling manifolds,

becoming your assent. Behind the garage shelves, one hundred
golf clubs, boxed antelope socks and twenty-two cans

of Café Busto, which the gods never spoke to you about,
except to say look at the world now that you’ve stepped

toward it. Even the little barn windows twinkling this garage
door want to see your reflection, somewhat radiant, work gloved

and wielding the last of his everything across the floor.
October night-chill gliding in, the dog sprawled over his

mother’s two throw rugs like a small horse, tilted moon spread
across the territories, and the sweat of your labor becomes rain.




BIO: Deborah Allbritain lives in San Diego, California. Her poem, “Sorrow I Will Lead You Out Somewhere,” was chosen for the Patricia Dobler Poetry Prize in 2017. Publications include: The Greensboro Review, Spoon River Poetry, The Madison Review and B O D Y Literature, and upcoming in The Dunes Review and The Nashville Review.