4 Poems

The kind of thing I see in movies/memories

when there are dark basements involved. He sat on the small of her back, cupped her chin with one palm, her forehead with the other, forced her to watch the video. Consider the narrative of flatness. To be flat is to be walked on. Pillows covered half-sized windows. Whether she tried to close her eyes or not, he would peel her eyelids back with his fingers. Peeling: to remove skin, expose the mesocarp of mandarins.

This was her first lesson on how to suck: in the video, a woman’s head and a man dribbling it like a basketball.






















To help you understand why I want to close the blinds

It was night when my mother left my father and everything looked blue under water. The street light is bright like when a car pulls out of the driveway in the middle of the night. My mom said it’s easier to leave if you curl up. This was my first lesson on security: we went to the “safe place” where we played with the copy machine. We mostly copied our hands so we could see them detached from our bodies. Sometimes you need to do this multiple times to get far enough away. I carried my hands in my pocket and used them to open doors.
























I’m sure there’s some biological reason


you say, why there aren’t a lot of women in jiujitsu.


To test the efficacy of anti-depressants, scientists put mice in translucent tanks where they tread water. The longer they tread, the better the meds.


The scientist in you does not consider the weight of language: ‘masculine’ / ‘feminine’ ‘active’ / ‘passive’ ‘strong’ / ‘weak.’ Or the relevance of a woman’s story. Who narrates the experience for mice?


I explain how it must be difficult for Hillary Clinton to navigate political waters. It is impossible to turn without damaging something. You are sure that’s not true and let’s not talk about it.


Maybe the mice who quit early just know something I don’t. I am tired of the crick in my neck crackling like an ice cube.



















My father also tried to buy me with breakfasts.


A setup for the apology that never came. This is the type of evidence we will want to burn later. I hid behind the curtains when he demolished the family van with a backhoe. It sounded like crumpling up a cookies sheet. Maybe it was because my mother went for a drink on mother’s day. A mother’s day gift. This was supposed to be fiction.


I am being very logical and calm like a sedated cat—until you call me ‘insane.’ Sometimes I wonder if emotional trauma manifests as physical pain because bodies are honest. The ashtray missed my sister’s head by an inch, and now I remember it was glass.




Ali Beemsterboer received her MFA at Western Washington University where she studied multi-genre writing and was a poetry editor for the Bellingham Review. She has published individual pieces of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction in Jeopardy Magazine, Suffix Webzine, and Poplorish Webzine.










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