Poems by Valerie Wallace

Dream of Nature

Wordsworth cento after Alexander McQueen


In all shapes a found secret, voice of obscure wind

Organic pleasure from lines of curling mist


Nettles rot & adders sun themselves, currants

Showing deep & red on a leafless stem


While in the road I stood, a girl bore a limb

Of horns on her head & I laughed aloud


Vulgar joy, languid by its own weight,

Hues & forms allied   Rest beneath those horizontal boughs


At times the world is too much with us

My hope has been that I might fetch


Reproach from former years, whose power may spur me on

How the sea throws off the evening shade


How that which each man lived

his particular, dies with him or is changed

Haute Couture

Alexander McQueen acrostic


At the first, a promise to share the fireflies in your brain with

the crickets in my brain, gift the heart-shaped apricot at my

end for your bunspark unpuckered, your stalk of young maple in the gorge

of the river you brought with you. Reach your hand in this fashion.

The discovery of how to really bite dark cherries. Swollen bordercall into me into yourself

day in day out. Arm :: swan :: fumble :: ruddle :: winker :: fist :: throttle into the unforgiving current gathering stones.

They’re spun from their beds and they are comprehended. I know you are

only, no matter how we relish this thing we do. Look at us, our radiant cooling. Relinquish your

clothes. I’ll cut you mine.




Author’s Note: “Dream of Nature” is from found text by William Wordsworth, Collected Poems, Penguin. Ed Nicolas.

The acrostic in “Haute Couture” is a quote from Alexander McQueen. This poem was influenced by the interview Alexander McQueen gave Nick Knight in 2010, SHOWstudio: Alexander McQueen, S/S 2010 RTW, Plato’s Atlantis Interview on Vimeo, especially beginning 11:26 about servicing women’s bodies, and as a gay man how he related to women through touch and with their minds.


Valerie Wallace - headshotValerie Wallace was born in California and lives in Chicago. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is an editor at RHINO and on the advisory board of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. She was selected for the Atty Award by Margaret Atwood and has received an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award and the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference Poetry Award. Her chapbook The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping is available from dancing girl press.



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