Two Poems by Dorsey Craft
Kenley Alligood on today’s bonus poems: Dorsey Craft’s poems delve into the weird and the fantastic. They explore the dark and sometimes sinister undercurrent of games, our animalistic capacity for violence. Her robotic “mathematical girls” reveal our deeply human desire to be loved despite our imperfections and, sometimes, because of them. The captivating voice of these poems lures us deeper into the worlds Craft is building.
Rainy Day Game with Kyle
The ocean is gray today. Jane has become a wolf.
She cuts her eyes and wolfishly eats fried chicken
on the couch next to me. This round I am a villager.
Three before I was a wolf and once we were wolves
together. Once you raised finger guns and blam
I was a dead wolf, red spots on my pelt and my belly
still nacho full. Villagers have nothing to hide
and I shout I am a villager! Don’t kill me! Because
as wolf I am silent like Jane is now, throwing out
quibbles about the rules to avoid rousing suspicion
and taking frequent sips of Diet Coke. Mostly
I avoid looking at you. You hold a pitchfork
and set the forest on fire, bluebells smoke up
a haze like princess tresses and I fill my claws
with dirt. Two men shout like senators, accusing
each other of wolfery. I say Jane is a wolf. Nobody
hears but Jane. You snap your biceps. Your gums
are full of sugar. The villagers gather ammunition
and twitch in their breeches. We are narrowing
the choices. The flick of snake in our eyes.
Tongues in, tongues out. When I was the wolf
you looked at me and saw the wrench
of my neck as I tore at an elk—the strain
of my muscle, the crack of a vertebra,
the dark green hollow where I bed in June.
When we were wolves together, you clicked
your teeth at me to say stay still. Raised your ears
to say bite now. I know as I close my eyes Jane
will kill me now, drag me down the hill behind
the barn and tear into my stomach. Later you will take
two of my paws in each hand, sling me tender
across your shoulders. Damp earth will sod my fur
and on a tree you’ll scratch a lark to mark me gone.
The women my husband ought to love
are not all engineers, per se, but they sway to silent
music of codes, the strings of numerals that form
the virtual coins he covets. Together they play a game
of raising livestock. Avatars with frothy hair wiggle
rakes over squares of garden.When his avatar selects
a wife, she comes with a surplus of cranberry wine
and blue poultry. And they all clap, these women,
as their crabbed fingers scroll the pencil skirts
at Goodwill, ready to present bar graphs of third quarter
savings. They stuff their bras with calculators and quake
for statistics and angles. Each one comes with her own
treadmill regimen of walk/run/sprint/recover and none
ever springs for a gym membership. Their skin is neon lycra,
breathable cotton and when they run, they run to buy milk
or pay the electric bill, not circular routes like orange tank fish.
Shorts are always beneath their flame-retardant uniforms.
Once we took a swing-dance class, switching partners song
by song and I tapped the shoulder of one of these women
as she rested her wrist on his waist—the instructor said switch
I screeched and she scurried away inside the circle, equations
emitting from beneath her hair like steam, formulas dictating
the length of children and duration of her career in chemical
operations and management. Women my husband ought to love
get up early and never wait for daylight, each is assigned
her own headlamp for applying mascara and chap stick only,
so as not to raise his expectations too high, for they, like me,
will inevitably age out of his love, but unlike me, they do not ask
what he will do when this occurs, nor do they press his stomach
and blow cool air in his face or pinch his nipples to force
his answer, no, they are confident, mathematical girls
with no need for reassurance, no need to hear him whisper
you’ll always be beautiful and certainly no block of ice
in their chests, no chisel, no mothers and no high heels,
no infallible instruments that tell the exact weight
and depth and circumference of this concrete lie.
Dorsey Craft holds an MFA in poetry from McNeese State University and a BA in English from Clemson University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Massachusetts Review, Southern Indiana Review, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She is currently a PhD student in poetry at Florida State and the assistant poetry editor of The Southeast Review.