When the girl arrived all blonde and blue
cutely confused, dearly innocent, plausibly harmless
and custom tailored with sailor dress and matching bows
she had that wide-eyed vulnerability only the truly
entitled and unharmed can ever dream to display.
Of course all the animals rushed to be near her
they and she both being so curious about her.
Some came with sheep’s clothing, some came as real sheep
but all came baaa-ing and bowing to cater to her needs.
Who wouldn’t want to feed her, drink her, grow her
and show her the lay of the land, go out of their way
to take her pristine, porcelain hand
and give her either pain or praise?
I shook my head, watching her natural force
as she broke homes with her growing ego
writing-desks and heirlooms and plumbing and kitchen
all washed away in the tide of tears she wept
over how she herself had broken things down.
What a lovely tautology, little Miss Liddell
answers her own questions, weeps over her own tantrums
and all the broken race to comfort and coddle her.
I’m not as dumb as I look, you might not know
although I’m clearly mad, because I’m here.
I like poetry; and I know which road leads out of the woods.
I’m quite unlike that moonfaced brother of mine
his rotten cantaloupe head full of wet tea-bags and dregs of wine
but us being twins, and him, ever in my care and tow
got me pigeon-holed by all the dodos
as just another half-wit thick-headed dope.
Which isn’t the worst presumption since when people
think you are completely without gumption
they begin to think of you as nothing more than moving furniture
and they will say just the most barbaric things in easy earshot.
They assume a blank face is a safe face.
Which is precisely why I see all the angles in this house of cards.
I laugh, as the daft do, because I recognize this girl.
Me, dumb Tweedledum, can name this absurd child: Alice of Wonderland.
Even I saw her royal predecessor do the same: take the throne from rabbit-hole
to croquet ground, the inbred horror-show of power gone mad
someone who must be forever the center of attention
however irrational, who holds their own ladder
who grows from blonde and blue and plausibly harmless
to painting the roses red and off with their heads
as quick as a rabbit who’s late for a very important date.
O, I know the signs of an incipient tyrant.
She insists the scaredy unhoused Mouse
think about Officer Cheshire Cat
who’s always watching and always laughing
and always telling you how to act, whose bared teeth
never quite fade away with their permanent grin
from always having the upper hand.
She doesn’t know where she’s going, or care where she’s been.
When you don’t care where you get to, it doesn’t matter where you go.
And so all of Wonderland bumbles and fumbles and never grows
because our leaders are Queens of Hearts and Princesses Alice
and none of their affluent pampered asses have the slightest idea
of what it means to live on the flooded streets and run from burning houses
because of the violent whims of the upper classes.
So forgive me if I eat my oysters when they are fresh in my hand
if I ignore the royal blonde heir apparent and all her blue bowed ideas
of how we shouldn’t talk about yesterday, because she was a different person then.
Forgive me, if I don’t think she has the right to grow at such a rapid pace
and I don’t think she should take up all the air.
if my daydream on the bank is that me and Tweedledee
keep our cloak of invisibility and one day,
when no one sees us coming
we take off all their pretty heads.
Jeanette Powers is an anarchist performance artist who uses poetry and art to question habitual behavior and to dismantle internalized obedience. She heads the generative performing arts venue, Uptown Arts Bar, and is acquisitions editor for EMP Books. She’s published a bunch of books of poetry, the latest of which is “Perfectly Good Muses” by Spartan Press and up next “Gasconade” by NightBallet Press. She is an alumni of Osage Arts Community and serves on the board for Fountainverse, an annual small press poetry fest in Kansas City, Missouri. She can most often be found near a river with her hound dog, Olly Mas.