Alison Palmer


I can be a revolver—
      metal-heavy, virgin-
         bullets down the barrel—
   is this the line for the exit—

I like to be the hideaway barn
          you built for yourself,
   wooden cabinets and lock boxes—
you hid the keys—

In the end, I’ll be all the birds you love,
       pairs of reverent eyes—
   paper birch, and wind’s key-
         board through the leaves—

I refuse to witness the ensuing wreckage—
   I wish you down to bone
          where no heart can be—

Starry Night Over the Rhône, 1888, Vincent van Gogh

I Wish This Was Starry Night Over the Rhone

      I hear absence, bitsy insides of honeysuckle.
Their yellows blossom into Van Gogh’s gold
             gaslights. If there’s a way
   to lead you back to me
I’ll use a brighter page: the stars, almost lemon
             against a dark blue wash.

       I won’t misremember his lovers
                in the foreground
who touch paint, light-
   white and blank faces.
            I try to listen for your heart.
Your ribs broken into a color
      I can’t see to name.

Alison Palmer is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Need for Hiding (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). To read an interview visit: Alison’s work appears or is forthcoming in FIELD, The Cincinnati Review, River Styx, Columbia Review, Cimarron Review, The Journal, Ovenbird Poetry, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere. Alison received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and she was awarded the Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Prize from Oberlin College where she graduated with a BA in Creative Writing. Currently, Alison writes outside Washington, D.C., and you can find her on the web at:

Next poem

Previous poem

Winter 2021