Poetry: Selections from Olivia Rose

Two Nights in a Row

I had a dream again about you and I, but we were top notch versions of you and I.

Aristocrats in Paris eating one thousand caviar eggs, Mona Lisa’s smile turning envious at us.

This dream wasn’t a dream so much as a memory of something which hasn’t happened yet.

Familiar, more lifelike than Madame Tussauds,
like all my senses awakened: your wrists smelled of coffee,

mine violet; you were chewing spearmint, excellent choice in flavors of gum.

When I woke up I pinched my arm, hard, even though I was grasping at a failed pipe dream

This was the dream of dreams, what else do you do? So I pinched, and it hurt like a @#$%&!

My rendezvous with the divine spoilt
and all I have to show for it is a sore red splotch.

a lucky hand

love is not love if it tastes like a watered down cup of sanka or a hollow-eared chocolate bunny,
or if it leaves you out waiting in the snow,
january in milwaukee.
when it is done right, love is rare.
it’s love if a man uses barbasol, and the smell of barbasol alone, straight out of the can,
is enough to make his lady sigh,
if you come home and flop onto
your couch in a trance, if your
insides are a pot of soup about to boil over.
you can tell it’s love when all your poker hands feel like royal flushes, even just a lousy 2-7.


Wasn’t it Cummings who said it is spring when the world is puddle-wonderful?

Wasn’t it Cullen who could not hold his peace, John Keats? There never was

a spring like this. All things that slept are now awake. And isn’t it spring when we are at our wildest—

flowerheaded and going mad in river streams,
infatuated with every butterfly floating overhead.

We double dutched after school and bet on horse races.
Winner takes loser’s pocket change and buys as many gumballs as she can stomach.

We lost our innocence in movie theatres
and under oak trees.

Give me ten years in spring alone,
over a lifetime of autumns so I can live out

Spring where I shed my skin, cocoon into a monarch,
fill my stomach with replicates of my wings.

field of dreams

you’d heard the baseball metaphor,
how impossible to score a home run on the first pitch

you’d heard this and, fearing the odds, worn your shortest skirt and luckiest anklet

cursing, out of all the mornings
to skip flossing

stepping up to bat, your stomach creaking,
the pop-popping of flesh.

hypnotic. a brush here, a gasp there.
both of you don’t quit

until your fingers are tart and crinkled
mouths glowing of teenage fever, of

of dorito breath and buttery chapstick
commemorating an utterly artless moment of

spines prickling like cacti,
crumbling all the way to the outfield.


it was a fuzzy april night under chili pepper lights,
stars vibrating from the pulsing of electric air.

house parties are rarely magical unless you like dead mosquito floors and other people’s sweat,

but this night every stale budweiser bubbled like champagne
and the dj scratched symphonies reminiscent of violins.

your face was soft and buzzing.
the sputter crack pop flash of nerves fizzingwithfeeling.

my ingenue eyes, breathful with blossom,
purred of rosebud allure,

and that stuffy spring air crackled like old t.v. static
when you flickered into my magnetic field.

Olivia Rose is the 2020 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Jean Burden Poetry Prize. Her publication history includes Querencia Press, Drunk Monkeys, Prometheus Dreaming, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Tofu Ink Arts Press, Perfumed Pages, Gypsophila, and Bloom Magazine. Her writing has also been lauded by the San Mateo County Poet Laureate, the California Writers' Club, the Half Moon Bay Speaker’s Stage, and the San Mateo County Literary Arts Stage.