Valerie Wallace

Alexander McQueen's Bop with Interviewer

I’ve tried my best to get away
from the Little Black Dress.
That uniform makes mine eyes glaze over!
How can you trust counterfeit elegance?
There’s something ignorant
in women who wear sparrows.

I want people to be afraid
of the women I dress.

Waif who needs rescuing
isn’t romance.
I’ve seen naiveté
I know what can happen.
Someone’s life is burning
from this world’s brutal kiss.
I am/you are
the voyeur/the mirror.

I want people to be afraid
of the women I dress.

This is sartorial,
but, O softness.
O radiance.
Leather, locusts, shells, fur
The clothes I make
don’t acquiesce.
Here is the fang, the net,
art of armor.

I want people to be afraid
of the women I dress.

Small seams

            after Alexander McQueen

Beauty is an accusation. Nature
Herself has turned metaphysical.
Skull bears witness, proper
& perfect. Viper to socket, startles
me into alertness. Profane
& beauty are not in opposition
Mediocrity is the world
s welter. Flame
On the alter, from dulled procession
The age demanded an image of its
Accelerated grimace. I
d be a fool
Not to open my mind. Don
t pity
The age if I mirror it. I want to pull
Nature into vanity. To lead back.
Let the skull crack. Let the wind speak.



                                                from Ezra Pound

Let’s make a dress from these

Stained red medical slides layer vertically on sleeveless sheath,
high-necked and cut away from right shoulder to right hipbone.
Heavy overskirts of crimson ostrich feathers swish & switch,
thick & deliberate into underskirt of plum-black ostrich feathers.
These skirts obey the law of push. From the slightest pressure they bloom.

            Interpreter of alarm
            Lover of syringe & tub water
            Tongue at your throat
            One thousand thin clappers summon the carnal bell
            Raucous rouge
            Smudge of poppies
            Murder of corpuscular roses
            So juiced they vogue
            Rubies strewn on scarlet carpet
            You stare. There is fire racing
            Under your skin
            Twin to Eros
            Close your eyes to see me
            Repeat me to feel me
            At the end I go quietly
            I take you with me.



After an Alexander McQueen dress from the his collection Voss, Spring/Summer 2001.

Author Portrait

Poet, editor, and teacher, Valerie Wallace was born in California and lives in Chicago. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wallace is an editor at RHINO and on the advisory board of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. She was selected for the Atty Award by Margaret Atwood and has received an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award and the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference Poetry Award. Her chapbook, The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping, is available from dancing girl press.