Alexandra Umlas is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated poet. You can find her work in Rattle, Connotation Press, Poetry Super Highway, Cultural Weekly, Foothill 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.
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—
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.