Inside the wallpaper: yellow like we’ve
entered the sun. Yellow faux-croc plastic
chairs, yellow tile floor, yellow paint, yellow
paintings, yellow ceiling, and three yellow-
jaundiced men surrounding a woman,
or a very large cat, sipping vodka from a
champagne flute. Her star-mangled eyes
scatter the yellow light and we blink out of
dilation and awe. Dana’s flashlight clicks off.
Welcome, says the cat woman. You’ve traveled
From the North, I choke out.
I am Dr. Noisewater, she says. Like you, I first
came here seeking love.
I: How did you know
Dr. Noisewater: One never knows for sure,
despite what they say
Dr. N: Those optimists in love, I suppose
I: No How did you know why I came here
Dr. N: Perhaps romantics, not optimists
I: Perhaps both
Dr. N: Yes, perhaps, though a romantic is
just an optimist to a certain extreme, or
shortly before or after sex
I: Romance leads to sex
Dr. N: Sex makes one optimistic
I: Once I read that all great novels follow the
pattern of male orgasm
Dr. N: When I was in love in New York I
took it as a tremendous sign that I did not
know for sure Of course at least one party
will know, will gaze—
I: How did you know why I came here
Dr. N: These three scorned and perfect
I: Conflation led to conversation, wine, and a
soft bed, soft hands—that which never having
had makes the having paramount, tantamount,
mounting climax and the thereafter
details: eyebrows, curve of fingers, middle
names, fears, calm smells. Novelty of a newborn
who loves everything it touches.
Dr. N: Well there’s no need to get defensive
Dr. N: Let me tell you a story
Dr. N: Flashback.
Once upon a time, all women loved only
women and this was called the 1970s. There
was hunger, but it was an immortal hunger,
not a hunger for knowledge. Well the police
got involved, then religion, and as you can
imagine everything went to shit pretty fast.
Before it was over I fell in love with a woman
and with six different versions of myself.
None of them survived. But there is still a
place. So when you’re finished here you can
look at this card and go to the address and
trust me you’ll find what you’re really looking
for, all of you.
And the card said MEGA-CITY
This selection comes from the poetry book “Mega-City Redux” by Alyse Knorr, which is available to purchase here from Small Press Distribution. This excerpt, “Inside the Wallpaper” was first published in Alice Blue Review in 2016.
Alyse Knorr is the author of Mega-City Redux (Green Mountains Review 2017), Super Mario Bros. 3 (Boss Fight Books 2016), Copper Mother (Switchback Books 2016), and Annotated Glass (Furniture Press Books 2013). She also authored the chapbooks Epithalamia (Horse Less Press 2015) and Alternates (dancing girl press 2014). Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, storySouth, ZYZZYVA, Caketrain, and The Southern Poetry Anthology: Georgia, among others. She received her MFA from George Mason University. Alyse is a co-founding editor of Gazing Grain Press and teaches English at Regis University.
Jennie Frost is a Jewish, Appalachian poet from Maryville, TN. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Anomaly, Kudzu, Glass Mountain, Sink Hollow, Indicia, Mochila, Stirring, and Political Punch, an anthology on the politics of identity from Sundress Publications. She is a three-time winner of the Curtis Owens prize and beginning in January, she will serve as the Writer in Residence at the Sundress Academy for the Arts.