Issue No. 7, Winter 2013

I Have Decided to Write the Greatest Poem in the World
Alexandra van de Kamp

It will encompass the mother-of-pearl glow of the Caribbean
and the best latté I ever sipped, which was in a café
bordering a sloping plaza in Siena, Italy. There will be tendrils
in this poem, green shoots growing out of its spine,
and an occasional rose so soft and brimming that anyone
would swear it was a champagne glass they could sip
demurely from, and with each taste, pain would evaporate,
such as a six-year-old getting shot outside the local library
or breast cancer feasting on the 21st century female body.
I don’t think I will insert scoliosis into this poem. My mother
might make a brief appearance: her right pinky bent
since birth, so that her hand always seems to be holding a teacup
when it isn’t—that hand half-curled around a shapely
emptiness. I will lay, side-by side, like knives in a velvet drawer,
the nights my husband and I made love with the nights we didn’t.
Myrna Loy will make a cameo appearance—martini shaker in her
evening hands. There will be a gaggle of detectives, and someone
will finally be proven innocent. The trees won’t succumb and the houses
won’t give, no matter the speed and mood of the green wind, and the tea
I pick up in my hands will smell of vanilla extract and a ten-year-old
about to blow softly into his piccolo.

Alexandra van de Kamp lives in Stony Brook, NY, with her husband and teaches at Stony Brook University. She has been previously published in journals such as: Court Green, Washington Square, River Styx, Meridian, Lake Effect, Arsenic Lobster, The Denver Quarterly, The Connecticut Review, 32Poems and Sentence. Work is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review. Her poetry has been featured on VerseDaily, and her first full-length collection of poems, The Park of Upside-Down Chairs, was published by CW Books (WordTech Press, 2010). Her most recent chapbook, Dear Jean Seberg (2011), won the 2010 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest. A collaborative prose poem called With was published by Firewheel Editions in 2013 and a new chapbook is forthcoming from Red Glass Books. You may see more of her poetry and prose at her website: