Ally Malinenko:
Three Poems


When I was a child,
back in that small town,
with crickets and bats
and all the other things that small towns have
I would wake at night

just to sit in the quiet of the living room.
I would worry about someone
or something, a snake maybe, being in the
basement, or the garage

but I would be too afraid to go see.

It’s like that now, too
watching myself roam
from room to room,
in this little apartment,

wondering how we fit
our whole life in here,
each day
without the walls bursting,
without the windows smashing
without the water
flooding into the street.
How have we not run out of air?
Packed on the buses and the trains,
I wonder still
how we can even stand to touch each other
even accidentally.

Power of Names

There is too much power in names, I think.

There is a change the moment the word
shakes loose like a rainstorm,
from your mouth.

Like when I was young and out
past the neighbor’s yard
farther into the woods.

There was broken light and the smell of wet damp leaves.
Dan was there, and we did not tread lightly, he and
my sister and I. We stomped through wet leaves,
wet leaves that belonged to us the way the world
belongs to the very young.
We sang loud,
keeping the darkness at bay.

The snake was there, heavy
and slick, half its body under leaves.
We formed a wide semi-circle
as if coming in for the kill.

Dan held a stick.

I remember my fear.
Is it dead, my sister said.
No, Dan answered.
And we knew, at that moment, it was true.

We had to go forward, a sort of
manifest destiny of our woodland ownership,
the snake lying prostrate through the path,
tempting and begging.
We argued over who would go first.

And then there it was, like a bell,
like a salvation, my mother’s voice,
crossing the distance between my home
and this creature, cutting a swath through the air.

The sound of my name.

And I turned and ran, free.
This is the power of names.

But it works the other way too,
when we are older and I call your name,
the word coming together, shaking itself from me.
As you cross the street you
look back for a second.
And I say it again, desperate
and you nod a little but
you keep walking.

Tiny Revolution

In the dream I had last night,
you appeared in the hallway of my old house.

We had not spoken in a year,
just as we have not spoken in a year
in this life.

And I was so thankful to see you.
Relieved, like when you can exhale
after holding your breath for too long.

And I told you that you should have
called and why didn’t you call

but you didn’t speak, as if there was some law against it.

And then later we pulled back my childhood bed,
moved it away from the wall
and there was a fire under it,

just a little smoldering thing,
hot coals like cherries
ready to pop

but also broken doll heads,
finger bones,
dead dogs,
broken glass jars
filled with dying plants,
rabbit fur
bent rusted nails
split wood,
Venus fly traps,
church pamphlets
toy guns
a mason jar of dirty water
pens and paper and ink and paint
and hot wet melting crayons

and right then I knew it was a dream
and that in just a moment from now,
I will wake, and we will still be in the midst of this tiny revolution.

Ally Malinenko has been fortunate to have poems and stories published both online and in print. Her most recent collection of poems, Crashing to Earth, is forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press. She lives in the part of Brooklyn that neither the tour buses nor the hipsters come to.  

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