“Wonderland Cartologist,” “Return to Trash Palace,” and “Alice Sometimes” by Kia Groom

Lise Quintana and NathanTompkins explore three poems by Kia Groom, submitted for Issue #10, Alice in Wonderland.

Wonderland Cartologist

Started to see them: patches of world rubbed raw. Under,
a bright scar. Two things at once, a scratch-off
lottery ticket. Helps if I slip on plastic cat eyes,
spectrum fade. Helps if I look through circles;
key mouth, hag stone, gesture for “OK”. Squinting,
too. A parking lot becomes a chessboard field.
A dry bone pool is a tulgey wood. This is gap-
looking, cornea-skewed. This is the gift of loving
bare threads. Once you’ve the knack,
every sidewalk’s a ley line. Abandoned
pink motel’s a palace.
Bring key mouth to kiss hole.
Neon bends,
becomes hallway.

Once you’ve the knack,
anything’s a doorway.


Return to Trash Palace

Alice peels open third-eye crevice. Hadn’t meant
to crackslip, but everything’s layers these days.
One hospital hallway is every hospital hallway,
is every fracture in a funhouse mirror. Bilocation or
double exposure. She takes a step:
one bare foot on antiseptic floor, one on a rabbit’s split
skull. The hallway blurs—edge fuzz in TV
static. No more ghost-white doctors. No more emergency
exits. Instead: a marble maze.
Rotscent and cobwebs
studded with chunk-lump girlflesh.
Something’s wrong, but she can’t quite place it. Memory spits up
single frames: a card; a queen; a hole.
Without her coat, Alice is weak—
bright bone echo in a paper gown. A lick
flushes her ankles—water
or some other holy thing. The hallway’s dim,
extending to hot nothing like the throat
of some great beast. And the voice comes—
a shatter, soft in her ear
like cutglass suckbruise:

Little Alice
fell down the hole,
bumped her head
and bruised her soul.


Alice Sometimes

Sleep-wasted, I shake out dusk. Body a tinsel coat, body a blue dress
punched from sky. Swallow to forget. Swallow to skin-shrink like sealed flesh.
Sometimes I disappear entirely. Sometimes I fall between the folds:
my cerebellum labyrinth. Down & down & down–chemical mouth
cake fragrant. Cheek to pillow. Pillow to forest floor. A peeling occurs.
Who I am is the whittling–the collapse into cocoon-stasis. Elsewhere,
passed out on the couch, a cat swats at my visible tuft. Life continues:
coffee and re-runs, a radio show piped through distant speakers. Something
seeps in the interstitial–an NPR voice in the dream stream, babbling
feeling trapped. Maze-like office buildings, fluorescent lit. Almost a warren.
In the water, my reflection is a hundred things collected under one name.
Words for warren: bedding, burrow, rabbit hole.