Alicia Elsbeth Stallings

Alicia Elsbeth Stallings Poems

Looking back, it's something I've always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I'd slip through,
...

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,
...

The two of them stood in the middle water,
The current slipping away, quick and cold,
The sun slow at his zenith, sweating gold,
Once, in some sullen summer of father and daughter.
...

The mistake was light and easy in my hand,
A seed meant to be borne upon the wind.
I did not have to bury it or throw,
...

Sleep, she will not linger:
She turns her moon-cold shoulder.
With no ring on her finger,
You cannot hope to hold her.
...

You squeezed its leash in your fist,
It followed where you led:
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
Nodding its wooden head.
...

So long I have been carrying myself
Carefully, carefully, like a small child
With too much water in a real glass
...

I hate you,
How the children plead
At first sight—
...

On the journey to the mundane afterlife,
You travel equipped to carry on your trade:
A bronze, small-toothed saw to make repairs,
The stylus and the ink pot and the scraper,
...

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
...

She plies an inland sea. Dull
With rust, scarred by a jagged reef.
In Cyrillic, on her hull
Is lettered, Grief.
...

The barnacle is rather odd —
It's not related to the clam
Or limpet. It's an arthropod,
Though one that doesn't give a damn.

Cousin to the crab and shrimp,
When larval, it can twitch and swim,
And make decisions — tiny imp
That flits according to its whim.

Once grown, with nothing more to prove
It hunkers down, and will remain
Stuck fast. And once it does not move,
Has no more purpose for a brain.

Its one boast is, it will not budge,
Cemented where it chanced to sink,
Sclerotic, stubborn as a grudge.
Settled, it does not need to think.
...

Just what I needed,
Just when the dreams had almost totally receded,
The dreams of roles for which I learned no lines and knew no cues,
Dreams of pop quizzes with no pants on and no shoes,
...

We're here for the time being, I answer to the query—
Just for a couple of years, we said, a dozen years back.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.
...

I never glimpse her but she goes
Who had been basking in the sun,
Her links of chain mail one by one
Aglint with pewter, bronze and rose.
...

"But can you forge a nail?" the blond boy asks,
And the blacksmith shoves a length of  iron rod
Deep in the coal fire cherished by the bellows
Until it glows volcanic. He was a god
...

17.

The tulips make me want to paint,
Something about the way they drop
Their petals on the tabletop
And do not wilt so much as faint,
...

One was fire red,
Hand carved and new—
The local maker pried the wood
From a torn-down church's pew,
...

Her body like a pomegranate torn
Wide open, somehow bears what must be born,
The irony where a stranger small enough
To bed down in the ox-tongue-polished trough
...

The blackbird sings at
the frontier of his music.
The branch where he sat
...

Alicia Elsbeth Stallings Biography

Alicia Elsbeth Stallings (born 1968) is an American poet and translator. She was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow. Stallings was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia and studied classics at the University of Georgia (A.B., 1990) and University of Oxford. She is an editor with the Atlanta Review. In 1999, Stallings moved to Athens, Greece and has lived there ever since. She is the Poetry Program Director of the Athens Centre and is married to John Psaropoulos, who is the editor of the Athens News. Stallings' poetry uses traditional forms, and she has been associated with the New Formalism, although her approach to formal verse is flexible, and she freely uses metrical substitution. She is a frequent contributor of poems and essays to Poetry magazine. She has published three books of original verse, Archaic Smile (1999), Hapax (2006), and Olives (2012). In 2007 she published a verse translation of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things).)

The Best Poem Of Alicia Elsbeth Stallings

Fear Of Happiness

Looking back, it's something I've always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I'd slip through,
Though someone always said I'd be all right—
Just don't look down or See, it's not so bad
(The nothing rising underfoot). Then later
The high-dive at the pool, the tree-house perch,
Ferris wheels, balconies, cliffs, a penthouse view,
The merest thought of airplanes. You can call
It a fear of heights, a horror of the deep;
But it isn't the unfathomable fall
That makes me giddy, makes my stomach lurch,
It's that the ledge itself invents the leap.

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