Alison Palmer

The Fire That May Never Come; Don’t Wait Until the Bitter End: Alison Palmer

The Fire That May Never Come


It’s often okay. We let
the deep of a darker laughter pretend to be
the kind of god we’re searching for. 
I shouldn’t rely on the element of surprise
to prepare for this
death of yours; sometimes I offer myself
comfort. But this fight, the conquering, has never been
mine. I’m envious, doctor; oh,
if only I could recognize the cacophony of beeps
                                    from each machine, read them
like I would my favorite books: Yes, I know that chapter,
doctor. And doctor, this part conveys the author’s message;
                                                in the end, she’ll never go
            to a feverish god. I don’t ever 
place my eyes on yours unless I must. The blue of their blue
            drowns me like water needed for the largest fire
to rescue you. You’ve a habit
                        of not blinking—I’m beneath the surface
a lot; why force your eyes wide
            when all you see: the ceiling, cool
and close. Each rafter’s exposed, ablaze; tell me,
            which has it become? I’m always prepared, a bag
                        packed for us both; our backyard
creek rises like an open palm.

Don’t Wait Until the Bitter End

I’m different: I worry about my succulents
going brown, about not being able to escape
my third-floor apartment, tripping over
uneven pavement. Why not find concrete
beneath my face, fall from the balcony,
thirst the succulents. To have no past
or future: I miss you during yesterday’s
today and today’s tomorrow. Meaning, you
move in me when I reach for the blinds,
stutter my fingers from pulling the cord
because darkness waits: Your blue eyes
won’t implore me to keep the worry stone
in my pocket. I gifted it to you, a silver
world your fingers curled over, fears
I only guessed you had: If death was one
of them you hid it from me. I look back
to find your eyes pinched to tears when
you can’t lift your hands. I go numb
when I think of you gone numb. I want
to keep the succulents alive, to prove I can.

Alison Palmer is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Need for Hiding (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). To read an in-depth interview by The Poet’s Billow visit Her work appears in FIELD, The Cincinnati Review, River Styx, Columbia Review, Cimarron Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Journal and elsewhere. Alison won the Poet’s Billow’s Atlantis Award, and her full-length collection, The Alarmist, was recently chosen as a semi-finalist for Black Lawrence Press’ Hudson Prize. Alison has been a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominee. She lives and writes outside Washington, D.C. Please visit her website: