Elizabeth Allen

for Roman

‘Have you ever been admitted here?’
she asks, checking my credentials.
(It’s funny how here I’m not mad enough
whereas everywhere else I’m too mad.)
I feel like telling her I’ve worked hard,
since high school, to attain this level of insanity —

a happy tipsiness without being drunk —
but instead I just take another mouthful
of Wednesday’s bean nachos (they’re always
good at providing vegetarian options) and think
about my next fancy dress party. I’ve decided
everyone can come dressed as their favourite

unhelpful thinking style. Some costume options
will be catastrophising, overgeneralisation,
crystal balling, global labeling, selective memory,
black and white thinking, mind reading,
self-blame, personalisation, or emotional
reasoning. I’m not sure what my costume will

look like yet, but I think it will involve the blue
and white striped seersucker of an overachieving
private school girl. I read today on Wikipedia that
Eskimo languages don’t actually have any more
words for snow than English does and to be honest
I felt really ripped off. Next they’ll be telling me

that organic Goji berries aren’t a superfood (and
that mindfulness wasn’t invented by a Western
psychologist who wanted to make a lot of money
selling self-help books). I think I’m going to give up
writing poetry and just write status updates instead;
it’s quicker and the feedback is more immediate.

Either that, or I’ll research a PhD on how
psychiatrists’ choice of ties affect patient
anxiety levels. Other Google searches to try:
‘Can you overdose on fish oil capsules?’
‘Who should you trust?’
‘How long does it take for a cut snake to bleed out?’


reaching up to

and climbing and

brushing the walls
with your hands

feeling for cracks
                               a fissure of light

and breaking through
using every muscle in your arms
to pull the bulk of your body up
to the air

only to realise
the thing you need
is where you started

and you do not know what
                or how
to get back

you did know

the one thing that mattered

you can feel the outline
of it
like a former self
now lost
in old photographs


puffs and purrs
and squints
at me
from the couch
in a considered way
with what would
be described
as suspicion
if she wasn’t already
farther off rolling
herself into a small warm
balloon all breath
and fur she folds
and tucks her paws
at skinny wrists
twisting herself
chin up
and into
a twitching dream
like a lock
of hair curling
around an invisible
finger with long
nasal now
heaving breaths
as she’s pulled
ears flicking
deeper down.

for Emma Kersey

Avoid eating grapefruit

Using same-shaped cake pans
of a similar size should not
affect the outcome of your baking.
This medication may cause
drowsiness and may increase
the effects of alcohol. If affected,
do not leave any section blank –
incomplete forms will be returned.
It is the candidate’s responsibility
to ensure that this report has been
completed by all parties. Objects
in the mirror are closer than they
appear. But though this is the general
rule, it sometimes happens
that the infant does not cry, or give
utterance to any audible sounds,
plainly indicating that life, as yet,
to the new visitor, is neither a boon
nor a blessing; being, in fact, in a state
of suspended or imperfect vitality,
—a state of quasi existence. Now
what do pretty girls do? My partner
and I feel closer since the Luscious
Lovers workshop. For me,
this workshop has given me
the courage to experiment, I can
bring my fantasies to life instead
of keeping them only in my mind.

This may cause dizziness especially
when you stand up quickly.

Elizabeth Allen’s poetry has appeared in many major literary journals as well as in Best Australian Poems 2012. Her chapbook, Forgetful Hands, was published by Vagabond Press in 2005 and her first collection, Body Language, was released in 2012 and won the Anne Elder Award. She lives in Sydney, Australia, where she currently works as the events manager at Gleebooks and the associate publisher at Vagabond Press.
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