a town for every letter of the alphabet

a town for every letter of the alphabet
by hanna elson
I. The Sun.
Nina learned to stray from her blood in ’93.
An old man at a dive bar wore leather better
than her, his toothless grin was prettier than
her whole life on one line. They did coke
off a cigar box, made plans for her future.
She would sell her blood-paintings for
an hourly spot at a strip club.
II. New Religions.
People grow old with sets of ideas so
different from their neighbors, their
brothers and sisters. Nina reached
the age of eighty-seven without ever
questioning her faith in destiny.
III. Mercury.
Two people chose to raise children despite
their tendencies to never finish anything.
IV. Conclusions.
A toddler learned the alphabet the same time
she learned about loss. She sewed the two
things together, permanently etched its
minor chord into her life. Her brother, Tom,
died from alcohol poisoning in 1990 in a
small town outside of Albuquerque. The
letters in his name flew East with the birds.
His favorite books were buried where sand
stretched for miles near the interstate. She
cancelled her newspaper subscription, could
not handle such stories at her front door.
V. Living in Lighthouses.
A mother always does the best she can, like
all people. Some aren’t capable of being
bound together. Some are justified in
turning away from responsibility, but
that’s a well-kept secret. Nina learned
about blood a long time before she turned
and ran toward the dark recesses of
library stacks and filterless cigarettes.
She kept her family as long as she could,
did her best to balance the two: a familial
role or a loud-mouthed deviant with no
roots anywhere. Like a well-fed deer,
her blood drained slowly and eventually
congealed to a useless substance without
her wild pulse and strong bones.
VI. Fault Lines.
She liked drugs better than people. A
day without the intrusive voices of children
was deserving of a congratulatory tequila
shot. Sometime near the end of the 90s
a man followed her until she gave him
her hard stare and asked his story.
Jack. The letters in his name flew back
West with the birds. Each letter had its
own set of pleasure points. The sound,
as it rolled off her tongue, felt like
a holy song. He’d been dragging his
problems down the interstate for years,
said some places seemed to fuck with
them, some let them sit. Nina liked
getting high better than love.
VII. Morning Sheets.
Nina learned how to run without stopping
to catch some air, because she didn’t want it
to catch her. It: anything that might pluck
emotion from her tightly-wound mess of
thread and skin. Once, she met a man who
looked better in leather than her, and she
promised him to never sacrifice a damn
thing. She woke each day with morning
birds, the only life she ever laid down
some roots with, and lived the best she

0 thoughts on “a town for every letter of the alphabet

  1. Narrative-esque stuffed to the brim with poetic guts. Title ‘a town for every letter of the alphabet’ gives us something to start with bringing to mind a journey of discovery with hard-knocks…the kind that would cover all the basics in a mixed blessings long life. Nina, main character, seems to jettison in and out of various times in her life becoming ‘unstuck’ like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim–this also is an effective device for avoiding the drab linear telling of a story. Different stanzas with clever sub-titles are an apt tool for partitioning life events/happenings. I especially liked the irony and added ponder-fodder of stanza IV’s subtitle ‘Conclusions’ even though it is 3 stanzas from the actual end. hmm. Lots to become enthralled with in this piece.
    Alphabet’s natural laws of life, the bird’s lasting impression, and blood’s courage all coalesce into gooey poetic coagulate here. I think Kazantzakis once said life is a stumbling in the dark, a fumbling, a groping, to find one’s way. That seems to be captured here quite impressively. Finding a new religion and guiding sun-star to reach ripe old ages never questioning faith in destiny must be something quite extraordinary. One must have something to guide and survive thru our own faultlines and reaching it to those morning sheets. i look forward to re-reading this some more. Very thought-provocative. Thank you.

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