National Poetry Month Day 14: Nikki Wallschlaeger






I’m putting this to paper before
I lose my nerve, my courage,
before this poem breaks from lies
& I have to part ways with you.
For I declare on this afternoon
it is my sacred right to be loved
gently & serenely, yes I said it,
I’m asking for it right now,
on my knees in the failing city.
I ask for common lovers to persist,
I want human hope to survive,
shaking open yr ragged vault
until the last brutal injustice exits
all nests of the lonely, weeping
like extinct birds, at the divine gates
of a paradise that deceives no one.
I take back the right to love myself



Bad Reputation

Clock into a vapor of delicacy
sparking chatter & resonance,
make sure the laundry isn’t done.
Come back to my chair. Sit down.
There are many topics to cover today,
some big lesson or another, laughter.
I’ll hold the art in you as the art in me.
We’re considered helplessly emphatic,
gingerly curtained, for my personality
nuzzled by wild botany, taxed say-so,
Old Man Doomsday & hermitage.
This plate is seasoned all wrong,
stinking gateway to their minefields.
Something afoul in the national eye,
for us, goes without saying.

We have a bad reputation.
Understand “bad” how you like.


Photograph of Nikki Wallschlaeger courtesy of Nikki Wallschlaeger.

Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, POETRY, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press, 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof, 2017) as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (2019) from Bloof Books. She is also the author of an artist book called “Operation USA” through the Baltimore based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Her third collection, Waterbaby, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2021. More from this author →