By Rikki Santer

My Pantry

Crowded with shelves it knows how to shelve
canisters of worry that pretend to be hermetic

and brave. Good at orderly conduct
but bad at assortment and prayer. When

you gingerly open its louver doors
baby moths will sprinkle the air.

My pantry nourishes latent messages
and stir-fries hope that’s gone stale. 

It oils a gluttony of delicacies yet
garnishes with flavors too frail.

I don’t fear indigestion. or lament what’s
gone pale, but I question this pantry’s

duty to what should be kept in the dark
versus what to yoke and impale.

Still Life with Whoopie Cushion

It ain’t lowly novelty for Madame who likes her money
straight up with all faces facing her, she the supreme curator
of cheap laff exotica.  Behold her credenza draped in lustrous
black velvet, read her realm from left to right fixed
in one silenced moment of thigh-slapping theater.  Fake fly
sprawled atop a Mortimer Snerd incisor,  overbite
sublime; alabaster bust of Soupy Sales, rivulets of dried pie
cream at his neck round his bulging eyes.  Sinews of Renaissance
light frame this hearth of tactical jokes that hold us in their spell.
Not a porcelain platter of purple figs dripping with juices,
but a crude heap of smashed trick fingers with assorted breaks
in their rubber skins just ripe for alarming; fat pitcher sweating
its cherry Kool-Aid grin with a dribble glass tipped
in mid-weep;  whoopee cushion all ego all vanity, pink pearly,
viscuous flesh promising razzberry succulence.  This still life frames
the language of monkeyshine. Not broken bread, vacant oyster shells,
or lemon rinds spiralling but the spillings of Cachoo powder, fabric snakes
spent and sprung from peanut brittle cans, and a dappling of puddles
glistening plastic puke or doggie doo.  Through the room’s beveled
window, clouds hover wearing our voyeur moustaches,
tips twirling upwards Snidely Whiplash style.

Secret Nights on Loop

Rising from the brittle fur
and oily scales of sleep,
I swell on each ledge of night
wedged between two bulbous
knees of defeat.  Acrobatic
thoughts chafe: will
I lose my balance
on this too taut
Never a simple
now but a how
will next words
unwrap the cardboard
face of next day?

I am open rust,
yellowed light
mourning over stars,
permanent-press tumbled
too long in the dryer.
Each night I awake
to this dark room,
bed in a web
of black yarn, strands criss
cross me into tight-fisted
memory, singed premonition,
a maniac hill of beans. 
I ache for a holy equation
to release me yeast-like
through the two-way mirror
promising gently baked
golden brown day.


When the March storm wouldn’t spare punches
and our front yard elm snapped in half,
its broken body collapsed across the driveway.
The luxuriant crown sprawled across the wet black,
rasped for lost sustenance.  Impotent,
I watched from the window and notched
my life with yet another tree:

The billowing pink bouffants of dogwoods
that intoxicated my young daddy,
the weeping willows that forgave
my parents’ fights–

My brother and I crawling under skirts
of a cul-de-sac’s giant pine, our secret
club for beheaded Barbies
and stolen cigarettes–

First kiss along the river
in the sticky hollow
of a trunk’s furry bosom,
my mother’s glow as confidant–

The sheltering pin oak that won
my father’s heart when he made
his first downpayment
for an abiding couple’s grave–

Sentinel twin maples that celebrated
my homecoming from every morning run,
three witness oaks murdered by our
next-door neighbor, grieving crows for days.

Each spring, tree men troll to our front door and swagger
their chainsaws for internment of our broken elm.
But we adore our stubby Pippi Longstocking
in ballerina’s fifth position, buoyant
branches sprouting for the sun.

Betty Boop Marries Herself

Her camel kneels
& Betty steps down
into the midnight Ganges
feels the gentle push
of the current
when she submerges
the pearl halo of
her linen robe tiptoes
into the swirls
and eddies
of the river’s open
throat. Her voice
lightly bebops
the waters to sleep.
She feels the barge
of napping monkeys
make safe passage
from her vagina
dentata.  Calla lily
behind her ear
she launches
into the darkness
a leaf bowl
filled with
her carved love
spoon a confident
oar.  Betty’s curves
dissolve into the tender
pull of current, red
petals bobbing
to the surface
like a menstrual
milky way.

About the Author:

Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Slipstream, Midwest Review and The Main Street Rag. Her fifth poetry collection, Make Me That Happy,  was published recently by NightBallet Press.