Poems by Tobi Alfier
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her chapbook “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Aldrich Press. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” is forthcoming from Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).
Chinablue evening over evenly plowed fields—
our nightly view from up the mountain.
Love-seat swing for two, a table
on one side holds glasses radiant
with the heat of ending day, melted ice,
muddled mint, smell of rosewater soap
from the guest bath, pilfered from a trip
The other side holds a guitar stand.
The rosewood acoustic waits for its turn
to celebrate with old folk music and newer
country tunes—pink-gray clouds over
far off hills, lights coming on here and there
along with jackets. She is a sweet instrument
played sweetly, serenaded by the last of the seasonal
birds on their way home to nest, just as you do.
My lord, you think, I am the luckiest of men.
Gone from rock-bottom in all senses,
mattress on the floor, woman busted halfway
to hell gone with your car, the cash in the kitchen tin
and the dog you’d had since forever, to this mountainside,
this woman, met in a decent bar, in a decent way,
her red hair shimmering under stage lights as she
sang backup for a good band, not a karaoke
piece of shit in a redneck dump.
Thanks to Jesus, and Marianne the housemaid,
you were wearing a clean shirt that night,
and you’d stopped your moaning and crying
a while back. You were ready for some change,
a virtuous angel, a sentimental companion
who made no judgement, a boatload of grateful
and a soft place to fall—
hummingbirds dance in the darkening sky.
As the Field’s Edges Fall to Darkness
She is a daughter of the hills.
She knows the cry of every dove,
the scent of each edible herb
and flower for the soup kettle
that hangs over the fire in all seasons.
She knows each slope, each path,
the creeks with slippery stones
and fresh brook trout, the pools
where she floats calm, hair fanned
out around her, time kept
by the sun through closed eyelids.
It’s fresher here than down below,
her magic place, with blooms fringed
along the water’s edge, and curls
of woodsmoke rising from the valley.
She is a ridge and water woman,
her sweater soft as the lambs wool
from which it was sheared, her book
beloved and dog-eared, read so often,
she knows the words by heart. Watch
as she dances a zig-zag down the slope
to the welcoming cabin, hair pinned up
messy. She is one hell of a happy lark,
everything splendid you can never define—
quiet as someone listening for a pulse.
Alongside the Lake
They were married in Indiana
just before fall. Colors of ash, delicate
gray/white and the hallowed hush
of citrus trees, leaves beginning to curl
for the winter, fruit long gone.
The sky dressed with henna
sparkled through windows of a tent
made for bliss—for everyone, not just the two.
Parquet floor for gliding, for a first dance
and many more, until the wee hours,
with breakfast served up for the few who’d stayed:
soft-boiled egg with caviar and baguette,
Veuve Clicquot la Grande Dame with juice,
French Press coffee with chicory, and beignets,
their initials stenciled in powdered sugar.
They had already left. Dark and light,
cranberry and velvet, exhausted from
the wondrous day and already hand in hand
in the same village pub where they’ll toast, listen
to accents, and come home with gifts,
dialects, plans for a pub/bar in their living room,
lace curtains with daffodils for every room,
maybe plans for a child. They will name her Gemma.
The scent of rose as they unpack their bags
and drift to sleep spooning, the nightbirds deep in song.
Held Hostage at JJ’s
Darren works the bar
at JJ’s Joint, Center Street
in Butte, Montana.
He’d dropped out of school,
gave up on engineering
to pour shots, smash mint,
sweep the dirty floors
and have long conversations
with the regulars.
Claire was the barmaid.
Blond braids, blush, farm-girl pretty.
Always on elbows,
face cupped in her hands,
she stares up into the drab
sky at the bold clouds—
her skin warmed by sun.
She dances with the jukebox,
watches for David,
notebook in his jeans,
all the words he caught today
captured for sharing.
She draws him a pint,
he tells her about his day,
she aches for his arms—
on bridges, on trains,
she could show them the way out
no passport required.
© Tobi Alfier