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Featured Poet: Alison Lubar

Exhibit in Lavender Gaze

The Barnes Museum, May 2017

I have no interest in gilded saints

spiritually neutering gallery walls

and watching me, another sinner. In-

stead I lust at their adjacent neighbor.

Thick-lined goddess: odalisque

immortalle casts her glance over

bare shoulder, broad back-curve

in one ochre stroke from nape

to those dimples behind hips. Once

at the artist, now at me— how lucky

to be held in yawning awe!

I want to hold her heart-to-heart, press

my palms into her scapulas and wonder if

this is where wings would grow and if she

would take me with her in flight, or just

share rose-petal baths and honeyed mid-

night snacks, a mutual moonlit kiss, or ten-


Floor tape necessitates consensual space.

I give us a two-foot perimeter, remain

just another blushing nude underneath– this

nascent love in original skin.


Sestina on the Illusion of Ethical Dilemmas

Thirty slides make up this lecture hour

and the esteemed professor will present

hypotheticals for existential crisis. Reality

is that an argument over semantics breaks

most. Philosophers love the problematic trolley,

continue to question humanity’s moral fiber

or the museum, irreplaceable paper on fire:

fragile fabric. What would we do to save our

“heritage”? The esprit de corps lies truly

in the foundational cultural precedent

to sacrifice five, or allow just one to break

under hypothetical wheels. In reality

there is no risk in lecture halls. Reality

defibrillates every deadened heart at a fire

drill– a classmate pulls the alarm, to break

the monotony of moral turpitude. Our

villains stay in fantasy, untethered to the present

political climate. The path of this trolley

isn’t trackless, turns in route, hurtles truly

into hubs of corporate gluttony. Reality

in resources; they see the earth as a present,

birthright, no matter if the room is on fire

like the cartoon dog in the meme. Our

home is the thought experiment. There is no break

from the vicious proletariat cycle. To break

down the door of a burning house, or switch trolley

direction to hurtle towards one person, not five. Our

question is: Why offer anyone to death? Reality

sees other options. The entire track is on fire

and even if body count is utilitarian, the present

is a perfect oracle. Thought experiments are prescient

with 2020 hindsight: one death is enough of a heartbreak,

nevermind Covid’s millions, the wrong Amazon on fire.

Predicate logic loves variables, simple rules truly

or falsely, boolean speculation. Objective reality

to the statistician for pharma, Bezos or Gates, our

house burning. Our museum exit blocked. Our

bones crushed under the steel tracks we laid. Reality

shows there’s no switch. We still (merely) ponder the trolley.


Weeknight Benediction

The nights you're not here I lie

under your pillow and imagine

it's you, search the sheets for

an errant hair shed in the midst

of some dream or tumble. Green

ivy sheets damp with morning dew

of upper lip perspiration. You leave

a hazy veil, mist like Jupiter’s gilded

genderless cloud that consummates

with rain. I wonder, when do we begin

to smell like each other? I sleep with you

still on me like a dusting of spring pollen,

yellow as solar and still as warm: you spin

my nerves to gold, sapphic alchemy makes

this aegis— today I awaken braver. Tonight

I will love my body like it's yours.


Alison Lubar (they/themme) teaches high school English by day and yoga by night near Philadelphia, PA. They are a queer, nonbinary femme of color whose life work (aside from wordsmithing) has evolved into bringing mindfulness practices, and sometimes even poetry, to young people. Their debut chapbook, Philosophers Know Nothing About Love, is out now with Thirty West (May 2022); you can find out more at or on Twitter @theoriginalison.


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