Mixed metaphors became him. He betrayed his own words. His conceit was as sharp as the drop of his jibe, cut of his jive, shape of his forebears, mirror effect of chance asides.

Jonathan Monroe, "Demosthenes's Brother" from Issue 3

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Allison Funk

Allison Funk is a poet who teaches English and Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her new book of poems, The Tumbling Box (2009), is from C&R Press. She has published three other books of poems: The Knot Garden (Sheep Meadow Press, 2002); Living at the Epicenter (Northeastern University Press, 1995); and Forms of Conversion (Alice James Books, 1986). She is also the author of a chapbook, From the Sketchbooks of Vanessa Bell, from the Parallel Press (2002).


What if, late in my life,
      an old love returned?
             I might get carried away

as I did my first time in that otherworld
       ablaze with coney
             and neon blue tang,

soundless except for the resonance
      of my breath, a hypnotic
             one-two, now/then, why not

me, you. I must have seen
      the stoplight parrotfish
             beam red from a grotto,

but, heedless, sped up,
      flippers propelling me over coral
             resembling Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia

still unfinished after a hundred years.
      Remembering my past,
             I circled the remains

of countless marine animals.
      Fragile memorials, yes,
             but not harmless I’d learn:

the thousand mouths of the reef
       that open out of hunger,
             alive to the careless swimmer

who comes too close.
      One who, succumbing to the pull
             of the beautiful, swims out

so far she finds herself at the mercy
      of surf that flings her
             against the stinging ridge.

Cells meeting cells, tentacles, flesh,
      she’s left with the mark
             of a fiery ring that burns longer

than a slap. Weeks. Months.
      A tattoo that may never fade
             from the soft underside of her arm.