Photo by Thomas Calder
Alli Marshall is a poet, fiction writer, and performer. She’s interested in moving writing beyond the page, seeking the golden in the mundane, finding the intersection of art and social justice, and reconnecting with mythology — both ancient and modern.
Learn more about Alli here.
Find part 1 and the explanation for this series here. The title of each poem is the actual meetup group name and first line or two of each tanka is taken from or inspired by that particular meetup’s description.
“Dellwood Park, Lockport – Cosplay Meetup,” photo by Rick Drew
WALKING DEAD MEETUP
Sure, let’s just say this
group is for fans of the show.
the zombie in the corner.
Or don’t. Zombies need love, too. Continue reading
Springtime is the best. All the romance, all the blossoming, the pollen-thick possibility of it all. I’ve been stealing the neighbor’s peonies. I’ve been collecting moonlight in jars. I’ve been dancing with strangers who don’t think to ask my name.
Also, I’ve been wearing a lot of black and burning the photo albums, a page at a time, behind the house. But don’t worry: It’s probably just a phase.
Sometimes I bring out the photo of us
infatuated. Us walking blind into the mire, us
in the opium den of each other’s arms, us
in the prelude to the whiskey shambles. Why
didn’t anyone put a stop to it? Us, running
with scissors, us playing with matches, one
of us the outlet and the other bald curiosity. Never mind
the cat, we both know who dies in this scenario. Still
I want back into the moment. The burn of it,
the dare, the shudder, the why the fuck not. I want
to revisit my kamikaze heart and also
the ember of the world we held between us:
a thing that couldn’t last but also couldn’t be
ignored. I want back into the swoon of it, asphyxiated
because that love was an entire life, anyway,
and we never need to breathe again.
Every day I get an email from Meetup.com suggesting a new group I might want to join. Young Republicans. Future Farmers. Martial artists and stay-at-home moms and people considering becoming travel agents (is that even a thing any more?). None of them are my tribe. Meetup’s web-tracking technology clearly has room for improvement.
But the absurdity of the suggestions has inspired a tanka (a poetic form related to haiku) series. The titles are the actual meetup group names and first line or two of each tanka is taken from or inspired by that particular meetup’s description. Here’s the first installment:
keep one foot planted in the
It’s a delicate balance:
meditate or masturbate. Continue reading
This is a poem I’ve been working on for a couple of months. It names a number of Asheville, N.C.-based landmarks, characters, and artists, but my hope is there’s something of the universal. So many of us are witnessing the loss of our communities to the juggernaut of development and wealth, neither of which ever do much to forward the arts or the creative culture.
The Merle performing at Vincent’s Ear.
THE GHOST OF GAVRA LYNN
The man took the temperature
of this neighborhood and decided
in his boardroom that, yes, it’s time
to capitalize on what the artists
built. The ambiance of ingenuity mined
from the rubble. Construct a hotel
to tower over the coffee shops and dive
bars, over the thrift stores and book stores, over Continue reading
Image from Pinterest. No artist attributed.
It’s been a terrible week of world news. Terrorist attacks on a mosque in New Zealand, Israel launching air strikes at Palestinians in Gaza, a plane crash, refugees denied asylum at the U.S. border. I feel the heaviness and also I know I’m okay. I’m infinitely blessed and comfortable. I know this, but it doesn’t make me happy in light of the greater global sorrows. This poem, I hope, speaks to that. It’s personal. It’s a microchosm. But it’s also about the larger collective effort of rising and staking claim.
What do I know of triumph, anyway? I
spent the summer sweating in
an oversized sweatshirt to hide
the shame of my traitorous torso
when I should have flown
my name like a banner, like a kite — not
a child’s toy, but a bird of prey. This Continue reading
Inspired a ukulele made from repurposed church pews by the artist Zeke Leonard at Pentaculum 2019 — a craft and writing residency at Arrowmont School.
Photo by Dan “Soybean” Sawyer
Say an instrument is born with all of its songs
intact, DNA in the material from which
it’s forged. A ukulele fashioned from repurposed
church pews, the wood still holding ghosts Continue reading