“dead, dead, dead” / “I am howling now” / “Wallow”

Sarah Jean Alexander



dead, dead, dead

I lie awake at night
thinking about the nightmares
ice cream men have

It is never silent for them.
They are always being chased

People tell me
You’re so funny
because I wrote a poem
about taking a shit
when really I just wanted to be honest
about my asshole

No where is safe anymore

Some days everything is perfect
I feel beautiful and happy
Other days I want to shake men
aggressively by their shoulders
make direct eye contact with them
and say, “Stop writing novels!”

I look at my friends
and think dead, dead, dead
while imagining writing my memoir
and who will be the first to go



I am howling now

I am frequently howling
regardless of what I am feeling
or what I ate the night before
I am howling now

If you emptied out an elephant
and took shelter inside of her
It still would not be
a whole lot of shelter

I lean back in my bed
against two warm pillows
An ambulance drives by silently
I swallow air and then more air

If you ask that man
whether or not I truly loved him
he would say
She was alone a lot of the time

If you can’t hear the howling now

If the elephant is still alive

If at night you remember it is night

It’s just that–

Running out of love feels like
when the sky is low
and you can hear bugs

and you can hear bugs hiding




What’s the word for when you present female but bark like a dog

What’s the word for waiting for your plant to drink its water and it is your fault

What’s the word for buttplay from the outside of a butt

What’s the word for too much Indian buffet

What’s the word for being a child and putting your ass in the air so that when you fart you can suck the air back in

What’s the word for committing suicide before you have to witness your mother’s death

What’s the word for being embarrassed by how quickly holes form in your shoes

What’s the word for not remembering 2006-2012

What’s the word for sneezing every time you hit a joint

What’s the word for trying everyday

What’s the word for hamstrings so good you just wanna take a bite outta them

What’s the word for how to undo eyerolls directed at your mother when you were a teen

What’s the word for never taking off your socks

What’s the word for not understanding how some people just go on vacation

What’s the word for how hot your ears get when you take a morning piss

What’s the word for fear of dead bodies that exceeds necrophobia

What’s the word for food that tastes good until you know what’s in it

What’s the word for every poem I write is an underlying fear that at some point my mother won’t be alive to love me back


Sarah Jean Alexander is the author of Wildlives (Big Lucks Books, 2015) and LOUD IDIOTS (Second Books, 2016) and has been featured in the Quietus, the Fader, Noisey, Dazed Digital, Lenny Letter and elsewhere. She is the poetry editor of Shabby Doll House and tweets @sarahjeanalex.