a l i c e    b    f o g e l



The Recurrent House

House of Arson

The Recurrent House


Where are you

when you exit and enter through your strange

invisibility like a ghost on the couch

beside you the shadow of another

house another time goes in search of a change

of walls without scare tactics like

do not listen at the keyholes never open

this third door hypnotized by the mystery

of a distant

whirring of wheels repeating clinks of glass

was that a hum

like the falling hush of hair

behind a heavy door wandering you reconsider

the option to disobey the thrill of the unforeseen

consequences till you're lost in the circular

stairwells in every corner overlap up

with down and east with west somehow an emptiness

at the center where there should be shouldn't there be an inner chamber

or at least a great hall you're afraid or are you


you might fall

over the threshold thorns

on ancient roses below a sky

reminiscent of suspension

bridges between recurrent dreams of endless

corridors and turns over

and over you slip between shifting surfaces sure

you've been here before but where

you thought you knew the place

of every armoire and chair every bedpost bare

spaces long scratches mar the parquet or

unexpected edges scrape your shins

again and again you could swear you hear

the click of latches catching no one

answers when you call out no

voice calls from you curl

your hand over the knob believe

you feel held

gripping of someone

else's on the other side



House of Arson


You don't know Jack

built this house around your volatile pain refers

to yourself in the third person periodically flares up

without a functional fire

extinguisher there is no pronoun

for the house is conscious

of being your illusion an illness

that doesn't let you feel

settled despite

how you choose to believe you can be

in the house every time you burn

it down in your arsenic rages hot then cool

down gather up from the toxic ashes

the nails you need

to raise the next house around the same

unstable mood

disorder demanding where

in hell is the hammer where is the skill

saw in two every inch that you are

separate from the house is your

false construct

for not one single second

person plural defines a relationship or a name for what you keep doing

to you everything else is

a home improvement dream project deferred

eternally unfinishing parts you never can

notice what you neglect

to trim out the basement smoldering again

off limits the spontaneous

combustion rags the rusting boiler inflated

pipes and tires spinning by the explosive

fuses spark your flinty temper

is not a viable address your indoor life

in your indoor voice

will you

file the insurance claims

you null and void

by reason of insanity your face

in the mug shots inflamed



ALICE B. FOGEL's third book, Be That Empty, was a national poetry bestseller, and she is also the author of Strange Terrain, a "how-to" book on learning to appreciate poetry without necessarily "getting" it. Nominated for "Best of the Web" as well as 6 times for the Pushcart, her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Robert Hass's Poet's Choice, Spillway, Hotel Amerika, Crazyhorse, and Pleiades, and she has received a fellowship from the NEA and other awards. Another collection, Interval: Poems Based Upon Bach's Goldberg Variations, won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature and is forthcoming in March 2015. She is currently the NH State Poet Laureate.

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