From everyone here at 15 Bytes: Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month and welcome to our June installment of READ LOCAL First — the world’s most extensive repository of Utah-related poets and writers. Today, we are proud to introduce award-winning poet Britt Allen.
In May of 2020, Allen completed her Master of Arts degree in Literature and Writing at Utah State University. Nowadays, she teaches academic writing at her alma mater. Her creative interests include “the eroticism of violence in female confessional and lyric poetry.” Allen’s poems, driven by a sensitivity for voice, rely heavily on personal experience. John Lee Clark gave her poetry an Honorable Mention in 2020’s Utah Original Writing Competition. More recently, Fishing Line Press (Summer 2021) released her first chapbook, Harvest. Allen lives in northern Utah with her partner and rescue dog.
Our first apartment was kitty-corner to the Logan City Fire Department. The shriek of the fire engines could fill our basement home any time, echo off the concrete floors and half-painted ceiling without warning. Logan was a smaller town than most; sirens weren’t constant, but always shocking, live wires of emergency off to save someone else right fucking now. His family lived north and mine lived south: one of us lost. The wails yanked us from our cellaresque newlywed life, snapped at our heels as we smoked and walked the dog, slapped us awake in bed. The violence never started small, didn’t whimper before it was red-hot pissed. When it hit, it was already a climaxing scream.
The sun pours golden
yolk in you, Junebug.
Come morning our sheets
are runny with light,
pooling across our mouths
and kinked ankles. Rinse
your tongue in me—
this summer will boil
our bones to peach
gummies, but the simmering
burns sweet. Lick the warm
pollen from my cheek—
play the humming bee to my
lolling lily pink.
I kneel before my acrylic ghost, painted
by my husband’s hand. There is perfect
likeness in each cheek bone, blue
in the white dress from our wedding day.
Her arm is round as truth, no inch
of the ribcage slivered away. To prove
he knew my face so well he used real
paint instead of his digital pen, added
to love’s labor the weight of mistakes.
Though her ear is stunted, topaz swings
crystalline on flawless copper strings. In still life
she has no freckles, no wedding ring.
Her eyes are closed or she might see
a pulpy mirror in me, a small
sweatshirted thing on the floor.
She’s an apology. I can’t see
past his “don’t leave me” sheen,
his “look how much I love you” shine,
every stroke reminiscent of the strokes
he gave himself in videochats with other wives.
The portrait wasn’t ever about me.
For more information about poet Britt Allen, visit brittallen.org.
For information about her chapbook, Harvest: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/harvest-by-britt-allen/ ,
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