Allyson Whipple







Political grit


Now, nearing thirty, I see rights I was born with burn up. Do

politicize my body, please. I love my choices dictated by John Q.

Republican and Jane M. Democrat, neither of whom respects,

trusts, or cares for my best interests. Make a call to a bureau,

visit a state house, write letters, protest until my voice is raw.

X in the lesser of two evils on the ballot. Then wonder why I try.

Zeroed-out energy is all I seem to get. Hatred like a carcinoma

Builds along my backbone. Attitudes and opinions becoming septic.

Despite my peaceful assaults, theirs doesn’t end. Despite

fight after fight, we still falter. Collective energies lag,

hopes fade. Nothing seems to stop the political hoi polloi

jerking us around. But they won’t be rid of me (of us) with one quick

lift of the pen. We’re laying foundation to build what was broken on a whim.




Unintended Tribute


Sunset burns our eyes. I’d rather be anywhere else, but my guest

urged. Who am I to argue with the first-time tourist? I improv

what I hope passes for enthusiasm. Soldiers form a helix,

yolking across the grass, while civilians cluster. The crowd is abuzz.

Alamo junkies gather at the front. I hang back, a lurking snob.

Ceremony begins. I didn’t plan on honoring the dead.

Energy grows with trumpets and snares. Some people show off grief.

(Grating spectacles. What can be mourned a century out?) I wish

I could get on with the rest of the trip. What foreign raj

kicks over and dies while we’re glorifying atrocious victory? This is Hell,

minutes straining as light fades and speeches drag. Finally, twirl of a gun.

Obits concluded, just a few more formations, just a bit more pomp.

Quick, hustle when it’s done. Reconsider—but you’ve already gone too far.




Love brings forth a battle cry


Utopia exists in Texas, though it’s supposed to be nowhere. So pack up the RV,

While away hour after hour—depending where you’re from, even more than six.

Yard after yard, mile after mile. When you arrive, don’t expect pizazz

and pomp. The west has no time for ostentation. But don’t think it’s drab.

Clouds occasionally brush the sky, but see the sun demand

Every part of your attention. Feel beneath your feet the stiff

ground, and then the softer ground. You might feel in the atmosphere rough

indifference. It’s true nature is aloof, but you don’t need a theorem like the ZJ

knocking around in your head to know you’re in Utopia still.

Make of that what you will. Nowhere or everywhere? Feel ready to run?

Or will you stay? I admit, sometimes the politics makes you want to stop,

quit this all for Oregon, New York, Canada. I’m Texas Woman. Hear me roar.

See me fight to claim this whole state as my Utopia. I won’t stop until I get to that.




An open, belated letter to Stephen F. Austin


When, in 1825, you ousted the Waco tribe, a hex

yoked around your city: eternal retribution. Jeez,

again with bloody tragedy? Aye, there’s the rub:

Every generation, some new violence, some gruff,

grandiose catastrophe, or sick, rich

incident. Slavery, massacre. Then the DOJ,

Karesh, having it out at Mount Carmel,

months-long siege, eighty-four dead. Government wins,

of course, but that doesn’t make it right. Just stop.

Quit your colonizing now and consider:

sometimes, consequences last centuries. Quit

undoing peace, waking vengeful gods: Hel, Malsumis, Shanidev.















Allyson Whipple is the director of the Austin Feminist Poetry Festival and the author of We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are (Finishing Line Press). She also serves as vice president of Austin Poetry Society. When not focused on one of her various poetry endeavors, she teaches technical writing, and is also pursuing a black belt in Kung Fu.

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