h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s





After Alexander McQueen’s collection The Overlook autumn/winter 1999.


parking garage lit with candles
encloses  room of white wilderness


then out of


              [wolf howl        sutures]           air


coyote fur peeks from inside a sleeve
between shoulder seams


black fantail birdcut jackets


we watch  |   each other   |   in isolation          |   sharp-edged moonlight


              How                                                                         It is
              sumptuous roses painted into tan leather               shift    

              frosty pink roped & cabled                                      sweater           

              grey quilted     shrug                                               comfort          


to handle a life with care, even if care
was not what was wanted

                aluminum coiled corset  |  Ndebe    |    Cossak      |     worn like a shield


the mass and majesty of this world, all

                                                        that carries weight

                                                        and always weighs the same


a man chucking more and more snow into the wind machine while another shouts, More, more!  
I want this to be like a snow-shaker!


bodice of rock crystal    
light inside it


these girls don’t look over his shoulder


metallic skirt etched with gothic scrolls         
reflects intricate light

white rabbit coat voluptuous as snow fox underbelly

laser-cut snowflake ivory silk     |        skirt over tulle underskirt     |     lets the light


snow like           


-----------------------------------------------  13 skaters
                                                                                                quick quick to music   -----------------


midnight              stars 

                                                            and      you






Note: This poem takes its title and italicized lines from W.H. Auden’s “The Shield of Achilles”. The last line is a reference to “Midnight, Stars, and You” by Ray Noble, sung by Al Bowlly, which played at the end of Stanley Kubric’s film The Shining, and McQueen’s show “The Overlook”.



After a dress from the Alexander McQueen collection Sarabande spring/summer 2007


Pre-war muslin blushes over dusk silk,
Hidden silver carriage for sternum to mons,
Bodice & skirt color of milky tea spilled
Onto Ceylon plantation parchment, into hourglass outline

Whose arms are a girl’s which flow in a movement
The foreigner thinks indecent, zarabande.
He sips, & ships. Handel slows it to a drawing room vibrato
In plain sight of stays & crushed blossoms.

Funnel neck filled with chrysanthemums, peonies, allium,
From the sleeves, too, they tumble & decay
Out of the earth’s trench, & for a moment
They lift their unmasked lavish faces.


McQUEEN TARTAN/WIDOWS OF CULLODEN, autumn/winter 2006/2007

with a line by Alexander Woollcott


there is            blood               beneath            each layer                  of skin


death               is melancholic    naïve            sometimes                 of beauty

don't                face                  the  dark          a bit of                        
                                                                            sadomasochism       in the psyche

admit               hidden             agenda            in fragility  of              romance


I                        would              rather be a       fabulous                     monster


dive deep       we  wear          truth in                                               
                                                    a locket           how quickly                  us
                                                                                   we could lose              



After an ensemble from the Alexander McQueen collection Dante, autumn/winter 1996-1997


What do we
remember? Ironwork grate
at night, lit by a single gas lamp.


Tinfoil in a crow’s beak,
gunshot tea brought by a stranger.


Lavender silk faille corset
appliqued with black lace
& embroidered with jet beads.


Collar pulled upright
& straightened, as a silk beaded fan,
fence for the eye & cheek to decide, When. Now.


A single brace of lilac carried
by the black casket.


Long skirt of patchworked denim squares,
bleach-splattered as if chainmail absorbing
soft unstill dark. Lapels open & plunge.


You stand on the step between
street & cathedral,
sudden awareness in the heavy air.


What lives we have
lived, how sharp, how lush,
their shadows & textures.



after Alexander McQueen after Jack Spicer

The naked sound of the body sounds
Like a trumpet. I announce a new world
In which your madness and my madness
At the point of a needle, is my love, spinning.

Drop a hard landscape of bone & shadow.
I am in love with birds. Oh! Sprinkled
With a little gold-leaf. What is real
I suppose, will endure. Shape that moves

Forwards & backwards. Utter logic of form
& color, something in God-language, in
Spite of all this unfathomable language.
I gave you my imaginary hand & you gave

Me your imaginary hand & we walk together
In imaginary land over the earthly ground.






BIO: Valerie Wallace’s work was selected by Margaret Atwood for the 2012 Atty Award, and has been supported most recently by the Illinois Arts Council, Ragdale Foundation, Midwest Writers Center, San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and Barbara Deming Fund for Women. She teaches workshops and classes in Chicago and is an editor with RHINO and advisory board member for the Afghan Women's Writing Project. Her chapbook The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping is available from dancinggirlpress.  


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