Selected Poems | Alex Behr

About a Girl

About a girl, about a nuisance
She stole my dollhouse forks and spoons so
I pulled her hair: a nuisance.
Her hair was blonde; her name was
Laura. My potty
mouth pissed her off. Her
brother put
his little

So young, I lost my teeth (centerfolds).
Diane and Laura found the Playboys;
clipped out the best (centerfolds).
We read the Penthouse letters.
“Mommy, ‘screw’ has two
meanings; so does ‘rake.’”
I threw up
(little dick

Could’ve been worse; just vomit (shut up).
Maybe you made it up? Only five.
Conservative men (shut up),
goes without saying, were young
once: push down spit chase
smash face in snow. Don’t
cry don’t cry
shut up don’t

Pacify Her

Pacifier. The suck of it. The lick and suck of the blue.
The denial of it. The denial of the lick and suck.
We adopted him too old, they say.
He never gets a pacifier.
He sucks on my arm.
He sucks on his blanket corner.
He drools and sucks.
We don’t want to hear the screams.
We want him to suck quietly.
He sucks on the nipple of the bottle from China
And bites through it.
He sucks on my nipple (I induced my breasts to make milk).
He draws blood.
I call him the vampire.
He decides, at two, that I don’t need those nipples anymore
Because I stopped with the milk (long ago)
And I should cut them off.
I should cut off the breasts he named “Mountains” then ...
“Little” and “Cutie.”
He is the sucker and the husband is set to the side—
that erotic need now met with a guitar pick in the mouth
or—a pencil
or—a paintbrush (lick the tip until it is sharp, but it won’t moan).

The baby sees me and the baby thinks I am him.
I have to remove my sunglasses so he sees my eyes.

What happens when I write this, about the dead intact family?
I become sad and pinched in the gut and need to pee.

The new man pretends to drive a car around my body.
The white and the freckles and the bruise on my arm
Or the other bruise.
Like the baby did.
The toddler when I was him—to him—and the man
I am not him—but he acts like the body is a landscape,
which may be corny,
and may be dead.
Or may be the most living thing.
The body is the skin with the new spit across it
and the new sounds of Polish war music
or the old sounds of Brian Eno.

The pacifier: to shove something in a (child’s) mouth
and hope nothing will come out:
Not vomit or spit or rage
not poop or pee or sperm
not blood or bile or snot
nor layers of fat exposed
as when the new man cut open his arm at a wine party in college
and slashed an anarchy sign.

Alex Behr (MFA, Portland State University) edits, writes, and teaches fiction and poetry residencies in Portland high schools. Her debut short story collection, Planet Grim, was published by 7.13 Books, and included “Angel Dust” from The Gravity of the Thing’s Summer 2017 issue.