After the Steaming Stops by Alice Osborn
Main Street Rag
$7.00 until March 7, 2012 (after March 7: $11.00), paperback
March 21, 2012
Available by pre-order through the publisher
"In Tillie Olson's "I Stand Here Ironing," we've seen the image of the ironing board and the steam press used before as a revelation of the hazards of the American dream of perfection (particularly for women) perfect house, perfect marriage, perfect family, perfect composure. In these poignant poems, Alice Osborn hauntingly and painfully updates and expands the use of domestic imagery as an expression of that narrow dream's tyranny, adding to it the expectations and regimentation inherited from a successful military grandfather, and the inevitable insufficiency of everything else."
--Scott Owens, author of Something Knows the Moment
"From snakes to movie stars to childhood memories of parents, lesbian neighbors and more, Alice Osborn's persona persistently captures a certain wonder and bewilderment of the existing child inside us all. Some poems end with powerful lines and insight such as regarding her mother's emotional distance and distain, "You say plants are easier/ to raise than children and I agree." Or a declaration about her father's beer drinking and unorthodox behavior, "Forgiveness is a selfish act." This is a book crammed with images, explicit descriptions, characters and emotions. It needs to be read."
--Sara Claytor, author of Howling on Red Dirt Roads
Ice Cream Party
The girls' pale plaid dresses brush
against pink walls and their patent leather
Mary Janes kick the white tiles.
Two balloons escape
into the rafters, and I haven't tasted
even a teaspoon of ice cream.
I won't, not on this day.
It's my third birthday,
the high voices squeal above the store's
door chime. Hands clap-
they are my mother's,
The guests all disappear like popped bubbles,
the high-ceilinged section empties.
The girls go home because I'm not
behaving, so my mother says. I never
find out what I did wrong, but I
remember her saying:
I love you, but sometimes I don't like you. like you.
For a long time I feared the chance
of friends leaving early.
Will anyone love me when they know me?
Will they show up at my parties?
Now after a decade of marriage
and two children, I fear my tongue-sealed invitations
go unanswered. While cradling my white wine
I don't want anyone to leave me.
I smile too wide, needy for crammed rooms.
Alice Osborn, M.A., is the author of two books of poetry, Unfinished Projects (Main Street Rag, 2010) and Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006); she is a freelance writer, blogger, and teaching artist. A former high school English teacher, Alice teaches creative writing in schools and organizations where she uses sensory images and road-tested prompts to stimulate her students' best work. Her writing has appeared in Raleigh's News and Observer, Soundings Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and in numerous journals and anthologies. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two children. Visit her website: www.aliceosborn.com.