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My Poem Lives a Black-Market Life

In this country it has found

the loophole in the system

and makes a home in it.

And when it breaks down

I tinker the spark plugs until

it is fixed. Use a can of petroleum

is why my poem smells of petroleum.

My poem wants dollars

because it goes to Panama,

buys things there to ship back.

It needs dollars for that.

I bought my poem a refrigerator

and paid the shipping

because you can’t get one like that

here. I feel terrible, I like the poem

the way it is, with all

of its complexity. All soap

is Dial soap. All napkins white.

Everything becomes accessible:

Neruda and Lorca, spices, even tampons.

And that is how poetry travels,

not to see another country

but for necessities unattainable

in this embargoed world.


Alexis Ivy is a 2018 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Poetry and the author of Romance with Small-Time Crooks (BlazeVOX [books], 2013), and Taking the Homeless Census (Saturnalia Books, 2020), which won the 2018 Saturnalia Editors Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in Saranac Review, Poet Lore, and Sugar House Review. She lives in her hometown, Boston.


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