Photograph by John Dulay

Megan Alyse

To the Mormon Marketing Department

and to the billboards along the highway telling me to pray,
I want you to know my grandmother asks me weekly
how I’ll teach my daughter the difference between
right and wrong without The Church. When people
in my town say The Church it only means one thing: Beehive
for the Prophet, the seer, the revelator. There’s a place
you can go in my town where, sometimes, you look up
and hung over the road, like it’s proof against anything else is
            Sinfulness is not happiness.                                                           
and a picture of a baby or banded hand holding another hand
or some sappy shit like that. And in that same place
by the mountain, is a hidden cove where they say
people gather to worship the Devil and listen to metal
and have premarital sex like animals.

When I was young, they threw literal and actual stones
at my head because I had a wand and not a Bible.
You’re doing it, Marketing Department, you’re really doing it!

Sometimes on my way home from visits with Mamo,
I check my rear view and see the same thing behind me
as I do ahead. Shout out to the scheming city planner
who built a single interstate between my town and the next
            and the next and the next.
Isolation made linear. Smart saturation,
no escape. One true path to choose the right
and to do no wrong. Point A is a white spire, golden angel,
temple square, and point B is a matching holy house
for the trumpet man where no one else can enter.
In between are dead deer and cigarettes and wards
with seagulls at the perch until the next point is made.
How original. A temple at the mall. A temple
by the movies. Punch passes to the twinned white
temples for club members. God is everywhere in my town,
and thank goodness gracious for that, cause otherwise,
            there’s a dark pit by the canyon where the bottles are broken
and the devil is summoned, and our children
yes, all our children, are at risk. And while we drive home
I look back and my kid says from her carseat—
honest to God, this is what she asks me­—
to define the word sin.

He Appears This Time of Year & I Don’t Know

If it’s the dying trees or the cold ground
But something about October puts him there
First he’s alive again & I speak of our daughter
Her loose tooth & her favorite song & he seems
To remember her but then she’s back inside me
& he’s rubbing my belly singing Carole King & doesn’t
Know her or want her & tries to name her something
Different & there’s pressure like rocks
In my pelvis & my chest & my throat
My fingers begin to fall off at the knuckle
Then my teeth one by one & suddenly it’s snowing
February & I’m in labor with no warning & I give birth
To a pile of stones & I ask him for his hands to hold her
Or remember but he doesn’t & then he’s smoking & we’re drinking
Coffee outside in winter and it’s open and black or maybe empty
My tongue shifts from side to side to keep my smile
Whole because we’re falling in love and I need
Teeth for love & I’m not a mother quite yet so he touches
My thigh & writes a song with his uke but just like that
He’s dead again and he’s sunk and fades and then 
I’m falling apart from head to toe joint by joint
Driving frantically to his mother’s house
My shoulders loose nothing but palms on the wheel
My mouth bare & echoing & chain smoking
Practicing what I’ll say to her first.

Megan Alyse

Megan Alyse (She/Her), is a current MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College. She is a recent finalist for Limp Wrist Magazine’s Glitter Bomb Award and a finalist for Quarterly West’s Inaugural Poetry Contest. You can find some of her work appearing or forthcoming in Angel City Review, Atticus Review, Juked, The Rumpus, and TIMBER Journal. Connect with her at