Nikki Wallschlaeger

from Crawlspace

Sonnet (15)

Writing under the constraints of your oppressors, whoever they are.
You start to articulate through the gold hippo lick of their loving war.
People are enjoying graduation ceremonies, dinner parties of roasting boar,
jewels that off-match the game-face playing field of your magenta mules.
I come bearing proper gifts: a canvas of a vintage warship I found on Etsy
so one day you may dream of being the next king or queen for the throne
of bottle caps, all cadences of anonymity smashed on the tinsel frock highway.
I spy a tiny sail that escaped, flattened underneath a fashionable lawn chair,
wondering if anyone will think I am part of the help, picking up pieces of trash.
From out of that longneck bottle the sail was obviously tough, she had fought her
scars from fiddlesticking & a partial removal of the brand from a letterman.
There are also detailed instructions on how to sail the warship you regifted me

It is a recipe for two
on how to fix tongue on a budget

Sonnet (17)

You need a permit to throw those black chicken bones honey
across the territory agog in studied hurricane lamps.
The pain management center is high on skin bleaching creams.
I know I talk at you with tons of stories about waiting rooms
but you should know by now that tear gas guffaws everywhere.
Why ignore the elephant tied to the city center refugee camp
or the outland of red gingham hearts tricked out in razor wire
when I go out for the morning’s mail? Tell me that once.
Children, it’s time to scream for as long and as loud as you can
treading water in the crap thickets of an evaporating formula.
Rock music is as carefree as ever at respectably placed volumes.
They will play it wherever we are waiting for our descriptions

snifters of hooting community support reruns on the mounted telly
waiting for us to shuffle along, shuffle along, shuffle along

Sonnet (41)

Soft Beaujolais snowbirds alight on fellowship hall
to nurse their sins upon the drive-in theater where
Hattie & Lupita are managing the flickering of my
woe. Stretching out on the hood of my cherry red
Corvair, the family in the car next to me is itching
from munching on their obedience. The novelty
of gnawing on those oversized turkey legs in public
never seems to wear off. When I hurt I think about
the racism of my white mother in rearview mirrors,
who suggested I read The Color of Water & believed
in the joy of Hattie’s enslavement & how because
of this I keep my blackgirl magic protected protected
their souvenirs from this nostalgic scene: a brunette
on perky roller skates pumping up the muzak gaslight,

decorative plate ordered from Fingerhut, the iconic ’50s
inspired Coca-Cola kitchen set. Tables in red & chrome,
platelets that you suck from a snowcone flounced on a
a chaise lounge with smelling salts diapered over your
eyes. I can’t breathe here & when we do it’s poisoned,
my body laid out in the open-air theater, birthday cake
in marble flavor. On the streets & in the silver screen
pictures. A protest sign hidden safely in Hattie’s famous
frown, the mayflies coming out by the thousands, lured
by the light they think is the moon. The families happily
crunch their wings, especially the fathers, as the
lining up begins to go home. Greasy gangrene hamburger
wrapper of a country, you are incapable of sustaining a
relationship with anyone trying to move on their own