Alison C. Rollins


Alison C. Rollins was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her debut poetry collection is Library of Small Catastrophes (Copper Canyon Press, 2019). A Cave Canem and Callaloo Fellow, Rollins is the second prize winner of the 2016 James H. Nash Poetry Contest and her poems have appeared in Poetry, River Styx, Vinyl, and elsewhere. In 2016, she was a recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Source

Public Domain

You catalog by hand, playing librarian in your dead

mother’s house. Try to justify archiving each item:


A balanced checkbook. Mothballs. Life Savers

mints. Back copies of the New York Times.


Frozen chicken pot pies. The Yellow Pages.

Expired Lorna Doone cookies long expired. Panty hose.


A pair of Daniel Green slippers from

Lord & Taylor. Flat Canada Dry ginger ale. 

You find a little girl hiding in Mr. Rogers’ mustard

sweater, sew on and sew forth, threading needles


with pubic hairs discovered in the carpet. Surreal

smells. The Pine-Sol dying down in the bathroom.


Which was your father’s bad ear? The one that lost

most of its hearing in the war. There is life in the eyes


unspoken. Your very pulse a secret algorithm, a soft-

ware designed to track your browsing history. 

An open casket on view for the whole church to see.

Her genetic code made available for live streaming.


You copyright the notes in the margins of her Bible.

The intellectual property preserved. Shaky cursive


her signature trademark. Upon the fall of a domestic

sphere, a pocketbook is emptied of all its valuables.


To become takes a long time. Blue spells are periods of

red where you pause, the body calculating the losses.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss


Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a meditation on death, often in thoughtful mourning lamentation

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)