Alexandra Umlas
June 2019

Alexandra Umlas is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated poet. You can find her work in RattleConnotation PressPoetry Super HighwayCultural WeeklyFoothill Journal, and New Limestone Review, among others. Her honors include first place in the F(r)iction Poetry Contest (2017), the Southeast Review’s Writer’s Regimen Contest (2017), the Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest (2018), and the Tom Park Poetry Prize from the Fox Poetry Box(2019). She serves as a reader for Palette Poetry and on the board of directors of Tebot Bach. She holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from California State University, Long Beach and an M.Ed. in Cross-cultural Education. Born in Long Beach, CA she currently lives in Huntington Beach, CA with her husband and two daughters. www.alexandraumlas.com

WHAT I REALLY, REALLY WANT

Give me a skating rink,

eight neon-green wheels, a disco floor 

where it’s 90’s night, every night.

Give me a flannel shirt, a pair

of Guess jeans. Give me Kurt Cobain. 

Give me his cheerleaders, 

the ones that jumped 

just the way we felt, like we were full- 

of-life zombies. Give me a tin 

of Maxwell House instant vanilla latte, 

that lived in the cupboard before Starbucks.

Give me a good game of Oregon Trail. 

Give me dysentery and four oxen. 

Let me leave in March so I can avoid 

the worst part of winter. Give me two 

hours at a park where everyone hears

the grass. Give me French fries without 

acrylamide, a Bob’s Big Boy, an Arnold’s 

Family Restaurant. Give me a phone 

with a rubbery, spiral cord and plastic, 

square buttons. Let me push each 

button hard, hear every clear, single tone, 

call a yellow cab an hour before 

we need it. Give me Steve Urkel, 

or at least a set of leather bound 

Encyclopedias, where I can look 

things up alphabetically, where Alexa 

can’t say, I don’t knowthe answer 

to that.Give me a television show 

with a woman whose bangs defy gravity, 

give me the time during the commercials. 

Give me an episode of Girls Gone 

Wildat 10 pm, and Lorena Bobbitt 

on News at 11. Give me a VHS player, 

rewind button, let me hear the whirl 

of tape going backward so I can walk 

across the street to Blockbuster and drop 

it in the slot before midnight.

Give me the song “1999”before 1999, 

before Y2K, when everybody thought 

the world was going to end; 

when the world, as we knew it, did—

 

 

CHICKEN

 

Unwrapping you from your reasonable

packaging, I always feel some remorse

 

and carry your body tenderly to the pot

to lay you on your bed of citrus and sliced 

 

onions, and pepper your skin with salt.

One time, I reached inside you to find

 

a neck and two hearts, unsure if any  

were yours. There are over nine billion

 

of you alive, and still, each time I hold 

you almost whole like this, slumped

 

and singular, like a small, cold baby, 

your body goose-pimpled and clean, 

 

I imagine your short, sharp journey 

to here, seven weeks to market weight,

 

the assembly-line suspension 

by two feet and low lighting, the stun 

 

of electricity or carbon-dioxide,

a rub-bar on your breast, a single cut

 

to the throat, evisceration, chilling,

giblets sorted, your body 

 

bagged. I heat you past your original

temperature to 165 degrees Fahrenheit,

 

until joints loosen, and bones turn

velvet. And after I have swallowed you, 

 

in the dish-filled evening kitchen, I find

I am alone.

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