Look back: Allison Whittenberg - The Radvocate #13

Posted in Allison Whittenberg, Issue #13, Look Back

Allison came to us fully formed and ready to share her talent. She has several novels under her belt, including Sweet Thang, Hollywood & Maine, Tutored, and Life is Fine, all available from Random House. Currently, she lives and teaches in Pennsylvania. For Issue #13, she gave us these powerful poems, which we are very happy to share with you today as part of our ongoing Look Back series. 

Wait for Rain


They’d have to save all the whales before they get to prisoner’s rights. Still, to protect the unborn I’m cuffed in front transported on a state bus.

Will the maternity ward be pastel blue or pastel pink? It’s institutional white.  I’m no angel. They are no monsters.  They speak in a hush.

Going under, reminds me of the high life.  Like a slap, his cry kills my buzz.  We bond for two years, then he’s off to his sentence.

The name I gave him won’t stay.

He won’t remember my scent.

He doesn’t have my eyes.

But maybe one day if he’s not shipped too far on a side street glazed with rain.  I’ll pass a stranger who won’t be.



The Black Writer


cold black words

corrupt the pale

virginity of paper

changing innocence

dark transforms it from

Eden, with tiny letters

that mean something,

with quick hands, you

peck the nothingness

because you are inclined to tell

the world what's on your mind

ruining the blank chastity of

empty whiteness



Crossover Flirting


Imagine your finance's hand up my thigh,

Him telling me I looked like a Black Julia Roberts

So innocent, so hot

Something about my narrow face

My steel belted radial lips...

All right

I liked it

This being fed.

Enormous is my head

that your boyfriend's grossly blatant come ons

Hit me with fuzzy caterpillar harmlessness,

Of course, I know this ruins the echelon of things

I interfere with your zip?locked dreams of marriage


A house in Linden Hills

He said we were the same:

Skinny and grinny

Till then I had no idea that Hollywood's

Highest paid actress

Looked like a white version of me.


The Quickening


Because I believe in perfection

I believe in abortion

Babies are asymmetrical

They/she/he/it squander

The silken grammar of  routine

But, a fetus can be edited

Its absence assures a lacy indefectibility

In the vacuum, I can breathe

It’s not right

It’s not the right time

I don’t want to hunker down in Staten Island

Or be on bed rest

Or buy big clothes

Or rush to alter with a gown and a groom and a promise

With rice raining on me

like fallout.

I don’t want to be folk like my mother was folk.

Children growing out of her hairdo.

Dull eyes and unpainted nails.

Waking on the hour to feed.  Feeding.  Always feeding the hungry.

The weeping.

Little ones pursuing happiness.

Little ones rob happiness.

Fuzzy fussy  responsibilities piling like landfills

On and on and on, like a heartbeat.