Tobi Alfier

Three Poems – Tobi Alfier

Greensleeves Pantoum

She wears emotion like a scratch-off Lotto ticket,
deep down inside finds love, deeper still
is where the sadness lives. Quiet, hopeless,
just the way it is.

Deep down inside is where the love is found
on the surface she’s a lace curtain in wind
quiet, hopeful, hopeless, just the way it is
one moment you see her, the next you don’t

On the surface she’s like lace on the wind
a ghost of herself, face in a thousand mirrors
one moment you see her, the next you don’t
she’s the tide, the clouds, a white tiara of blossoms

Her ghostly self, reflected in antique mirrors
sometimes her usual prayers miss the point
she’s the tide, the clouds, a white tiara for Sundays
even sung to Greensleeves her prayers are all wrong

Sometimes her usual prayers are misheard
or not heard, the prayer beads misbehaving, mistaking
even sung to Greensleeves her prayers are all wrong
like questions whose answers will never be sought

Prayer beads mistaken
ancient church smells and poor behavior
all the wrong prayers sung to the wrong songs
no wonder she holds it all inside

Ancient church smells and wretched behavior
her emotion has to be scratched off to decipher
no wonder she holds it all on the inside
quiet, hopeless, where everything lives.


How Many Times

How many times has the silence of waiting
turned to the silence of anyone’s sadness

How many times has the deepening dusk
offered a canvas for snowflakes only just seen

How many times have ancient fencelines
tangled with strangled memory and trumpet vines

How many time has the hour grown late
as she waits for her solitude to come with gin

How many times has she dozed and dreamed on the way home
while waiting for the half-light of street lights to rouse her

How many grocery lists scrawled on overdue bills
How many dusty windows bear her drawings on the sills

How many times has she cut her losses too early
while vanishing slowly like a waning moon

How many times has she cried out to God
in a raspy voice—a hull dragging the ocean floor

How many times has she nothing better to do
than listen to bar talk and music spill through the door.


Anything But Blue

The Charity Shop only had blue shirts
and he wanted something in other colors.

Nothing too crazy, just a bit different,
like the sundown as you stare into

the darkening sky, or the pale green
of the ferns growing on his windowsill.

He had a good job in a good office
but didn’t think anyone knew his name.

Even Joy, with whom he shared a cubicle.
He brought her a coffee most mornings,

sometimes a flower for her breakup vase –
he knew she was gutted when

those “goodbye roses” came,
yet she never asked about him. Not once.

Yes, a shirt even dark mahogany
might stir thoughts galloping through

someone’s senses—instead of an unseen voice
shouting for somebody else, hopefully

a voice sweet as snowflakes brushing
his eyes as they melted upon

his shoulders and into his heart, who knows.
If not at work, then at his one-drink stop

on the way home. Women ask him directions
for goodness sake. He wants to be asked more.

Any shirt that’s not blue. With enough
funds left to buy a drink for an intriguing woman,

a refuge of warmth, wit, and conversation
to soften his footsteps homeward.


Tobi Alfier is published nationally and internationally. Credits include War, Literature and the Arts, The American Journal of Poetry, KGB Bar Lit Mag, Washington Square Review, Cholla Needles, James Dickey Review, Gargoyle, Permafrost, Arkansas Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review.

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