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Allison Benis White

Allison Benis White is the author of Please Bury Me in This (Four Way Books, 2017) and Small Porcelain Head (Four Way Books, 2013). She teaches at the University of California, Riverside, and lives in Irvine, California. 

By This Poet

6

from Please Bury Me in This

Maybe my arms lifted as a woman lowers a dress over my head.

This is not what I want to tell you.

Looking at red flowers on her mother’s dress as she sat on her lap on a train is Woolf’s first memory.

Then the sound of waves behind a yellow shade, of being alive as ecstasy.

Maybe her mind, as I read, lowering over my mind.

Maybe looking down, as I sit on the floor, at the book inside the diamond of my legs.

Even briefly, to love with someone else’s mind.

Moving my lips as I read the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach.

What I want to tell you is ecstasy.

from “Please Bury Me in This”

Now my neighbor through the wall playing piano, I imagine, with her eyes closed.

When she stops playing, she disappears.

I am still waiting for the right words to explain myself to you.

When there was nothing left to smoke, I drew on my lips with a pen until they were black.

Or is this what it means to be empty: to make no sound?

I pressed my mouth to the wall until I’d made a small gray ring.

Or maybe emptiness is a form of listening.

Maybe I am just listening.
 

from Please Bury Me in This [Looking up in the dark I thought..."]

Looking up in the dark I thought, Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.

I tried in the closet but the rope broke.

Maybe the relief of conversation, of something almost happening.

The way in the morning, lying on the floor, the light through the blinds cuts my face.

Less than hope: wishing.

How sugar became snow, poured over wet glue on a cardboard roof.

I remember the paper house, hung from a cage hook in my room, swaying.

Not fonder, not fonder—the heart grows stranger.