This is a Test

Liane Strauss

For the next sixty seconds, this station will conduct a test of the EmergencyBroadcast System. This is only a test.

It is always childhood
in the middle of the night.Frowning men dress in brown costumes, sepia clowns
who live in a dog house built by giraffes.They demand to see your papers.
Demand means ask.Large laughing ladies laden with accents
and bubbling baubles loom like balloonsand play cards all afternoon, smoking
and speaking in code. Their eyes shine like stonesin a brook and their heads are spun-sugar
and sizzle and snap like a fire in a hearth.Their mouths cough forests and mothballs.
Their gold lamé teeth twinkle like stars.But their eyebrows are frightened.
They have nowhere to bend from.They lean in, like cannons,
Who have we here? How old are you now?Even in your own bed the questions
never fail to catch you off guard.You are still worrying the answers
thirty years after nothing ever happened.Outside, the trees are creaking like doors.
In the distance, an elephant brays.You know it is only a train
and you live in the city.It is only a train.
The doors are like trees.

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Liane Strauss is the author of Leaving Eden (Salt, 2010) and Frankie, Alfredo (Donut Press, 2009). She is the head of poetry in creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London. She lives in North London with her two sons.

Cimarron Review

Summer 2018

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University

Editor: Toni Graham
Associate Editors: Dinah Cox, Claire Paniccia, Amanda Hays
Poetry Editor: Lisa Lewis
Fiction Editor: Toni Graham

One of the oldest quarterlies in the nation, Cimarron Review publishes work by writers at all stages of their careers, including Pulitzer prize winners, writers appearing in the Best American Series and the Pushcart anthologies, and winners of national book contests. Since 1967, Cimarron has showcased poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with a wide-ranging aesthetic. Our editors seek the bold and the ruminative, the sensitive and the shocking, but above all they seek imagination and truth-telling, the finest stories, poems, and essays from working writers across the country and around the world.

Cimarron Review has published authors such as Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, John Ashbery, Pam Houston, Molly Giles, Nona Caspers, Robert Olen Butler, Mark Doty, Patricia Smith, Diane Wakoski, Marilyn Chin, David Wagoner, Tess Gallagher, Porter Fox, Richard Shelton, Kimiko Hahn, Marilyn Nelson, Richard Lyons, Dorianne Laux, Annie Finch, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Catherine Brady, Cyrus Cassells, Rick Bass, Mary Jo Bang, William Stafford, Paul Muldoon, Grace Schulman, and many others.

NewPages’s Reviewer John Palen says Cimarron Review “is one of those treasures among lit magazines—a publication whose commitment to high standards keeps us honest.”

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