Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Aline Dolinh






We’re on vacation in the Everglades, and my toddler cousin is always wandering
towards the alligators. He is resplendent with fat and parents keep approaching us
to coo at how well-behaved he is — look how discreetly he handles the tackiness

of possessing so much flesh, how elegantly he lurches between each catastrophe
of his own making! This morning, he pitched an entire box of cereal into a pond
and beamed at the gulls diving for the Froot Loops, as if the glass-faced shallows

had suddenly swelled with cartoon gemstones and he was the great boy-emperor
who had begotten this mythic largesse. He never knew he had created something
that needed to be cleaned up. I am striving to be more like him —

to remain round and shameless as I haul my softness across
this frying planet. In the Publix checkout line, a sweating mother
implores her noisy cornfield-headed sons to “be careful

with your bodies, please.” So much of the world is an open mouth and baby
alligators have a six percent chance of being eaten by their own kind.
I think I am the same sort of animal. I am trying so hard to be kind.



Dear Lexie, I have a confession to make:
in frat houses, I’m always just looking for
an antique crown molding. I create
inglorious exits all the time — tonight, I tell
the whey-faced summer analyst that my
twin Samoyeds have leukemia. There are
good tears — I love to wring my face out,
especially when I know it could make a
nice boy uncomfortable. I am profoundly
awful at heterosexuality and I think
a disgrace to everything else. I cannot stop
wanting the absurd things like minivans
and rhinestone manicures. At midnight,
I watch HGTV reruns and think about how
we used to play that game at open houses
— you were a varnished marble in those
metallic skirtsuits when you pretended to
be your boss, but I was better at improv.
My favorite part was nodding sagely when
they gave us an asking price — we’d
always smile starchily and say, “Well,
we’ll have to consult with each other, but
we love a good fixer-upper.” On the
television, the bright-faced concert harpist
and her sommelier fiancé repeat the same
line. My heart genuinely swells for
Lauren, 33, and Bradley, 36, as they
perform agony over a flagstone patio and
tile backsplash in a sun-slick kitchen. They
want an open-concept floor plan and six
bedrooms, you see, because they want to
start a family someday. In the end, they go
with the butter-colored gingerbread
Victorian hovering on the waterfront.
When the camera pans out, it looks like
a dollhouse spectacularly unmoored
on that fuzz of blue —

Aline Dolinh is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and will be an MFA candidate in poetry at Boston University during 2020-21. In the past, she has served as a poetry reader and summer mentor for The Adroit Journal. Her poems have previously been nominated for Best of the Net and appeared in publications including Frontier Poetry, TRACK//FOUR, and Alien Mouth. More from this author →