By Natalie Lyalin:


I protect my heart when I perform, but the night is another thing.
It does not appear to care much, and I am weak.
Nightmare: my father is a bride. I lift the veil over his eager face.
His wife’s eyes are very dark suckling holes.
I fasten some pearls around his neck and send him off.
Grow well, little dad! Send me a postcard when you wake up.
I will have you over for a nice lunch.
We will make a toast with your new champagne glasses!
They will sizzle and froth over with our aggressive clinks.


The cow was cold and yet I milked it. Under a dirty blanket
I found something warm, so I held it tightly. It was my own
hand, don’t worry. Under a slanted sky I cursed the cold and
kept on going. My mountain is called grief I say, and when
feeling toothed, that is, when teeth come into a conversation
I miss mine. I also miss my father and mother being married,
because that was when we did all this terrible work together.
Now this frost reflects my wounded mouth to me and in
the shower, under very hot water, I cackle at the thought of
things passed. I make a bird call and confuse the others. I set
the clocks back. My insanity is precious. It is a gem I smuggled
out and now it shines like a moon over this fortress.

These poems first appeared in The Offending Adam and are reprinted here with permission of the poet.

Natalie Lyalin is the author of Pink and Hot Pink Habitat (Coconut Books 2009) and Try A Little Time Travel (Ugly Duckling Presse 2010). She is an editor for GlitterPony Magazine and Agnes Fox Press. She lives in Philadelphia.

Editor’s Note: I have to thank our Editor and Webmaster Okla Elliot for pushing us to seek out lesser-known poets and turn to poetry journals to find new pieces for As It Ought To Be. That gentle pushing led me to today’s discovery, a “a gem I smuggled
out and now it shines like a moon over this fortress.”

Natalie Lyalin’s work is a disturbing breath of fresh air. Haunted with images and notions of family struggle and allusion to the darkness that lies just beneath the surface, the poet paints a picture in shades of gray as if sketched from the crumbling chalk of human suffering. All in all it is a severe understatement to say that Ms. Lyalin is the architect of well-crafted poems.

Want to read more by and about Natalie Lyalin?
Apples on Fire
Octopus Magazine
The Best American Poetry
Weird Deer

About Sivan Butler-Rotholz

Sivan is the Managing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. She is also the founder of Reviving Herstory. Sivan welcomes feedback, poetry submissions, and solicitations of her writing via email at sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com.
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  1. maya elashi says:

    this frost reflects my wounded mouth to me … I cackle at the thought of things past!
    Yow! Great find (hear), my dear.

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