Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tobi Alfier - Try Something New

How Was Your Week?

I always say everybody has something, and I’m not special, but holy cow, I sincerely hope your week was better than mine. 
Everything wise! 


You all met my friend Chuka Susan Chesney in my blog post of November 2, 2018. I talked about her again in my post about “Stretching” on February 8, 2019. I said (again):

“She has a way of writing that is well and beautifully thought out, but in ways I’ve never seen”. I said “she writes like a Victorian Italian Carnival”. And that’s true. I love her writing. Weave Tobi and Chuka together?  I wouldn’t know where to start.

You know the rest of the story, about how we approached a collaboration, but you didn’t get to read the poem. Well we checked the website for where we’d submitted, and it was down for three days, so we submitted elsewhere. I am happy to say that our poem, “Nanny Estela’s Padded Bra”, was published in The Galway Review on May 12th.

Nanny Estela’s Padded Bra

I knew they were mis hijas as soon as I cradled 
her Cuernevacan breasts
like juevos in a spoon.
I was to give glamour to mi Estela:
an underclothing arched eyebrow,
perfect eyeliner, Billie Holiday magnolia
or opals on the ring of a Talavera fountain.

The tentative flesh de mi jovencita
while she cuddled her smallest charge,
little doll-baby needing much warmth
and comfort from her running and running
family, climbing into the single bed each morning.
Estela’s pupusas no longer bare under flannel,
now kittened in my cupfuls, padded curlicues
transform her A-cups into steeples.

I’m her brassiere that snuggles and instructs
as she instructs her little family faerie niños.
She bought me with her salary—she babysits.
Ten dollars a week is enough to send home
and save up for small things like me
all stitched lovely, a rainbow Mobius strip
that makes her walk taller and talk bubbly
her fingers going round and round the circles.

Sometimes she nestles my lace in the cavern
of her drawer—no Iglesia for my intentions
says the madre de familia and I must lie
there all bored while mi Estela wears
the madres rotted cotton that’s better for God
so she says. 

But when I’m awake, I cantata Lady Luck,
my featherbedded geysers traffic cone her chest.
I string her chichis high like matching Astropops
suspended on the catwalk of scaffolding—
her shoulders also pulled back and daring.

We ascend switchback cielo to the stratosphere
until mi Estela went to another faerie family
so she could go to school but the man had
fingertips looking for romance and cooing;
el primero his nasty pointer stitched
around each nipple to coax them into tops
that tandemly rocketed her Vesuvius future
no bueno to the bad man come back to doll-baby. 

Sophia-shaded eyes on mi nanny Estela
I am the doll-baby. I watch as she
capsizes la luna with orgasmic jackpots
dios mio I love her es verdad
I love her bra a small planet in the galaxy
I want to be either of them— glorious lacy
on the underneath and Iglesias-sweet smile
on the whole unicorn outside.

Our combined bios. Mine is the standard “under 50 words” bio for submissions. Chuka’s is the interesting one. Some journals might edit it but not all of them. It often depends on the bios they’ve received from other poets, and if others are longer than requested in the guidelines:

Chuka Susan Chesney has a BFA in Fashion Illustration from Art Center College of Design and an MAT from Occidental College. She is an artist, poet, curator, and editor. Her award-winning paintings and sculpture have been shown in galleries all over the country. Her poems have been published on three continents. "You Were a Pie So We Ate You", a book of Chesney's poems was the winner of the 2018 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest. In October 2018, Chesney curated the "I Pity da Poe" exhibition at the Hive Gallery in Downtown L.A. In November, Chesney hosted a poetry reading with Don Kingfisher Campbell at the YEAR ONE exhibition featuring Loren Philip and Tomoaki Shibata's collaborative art at Castelli Art Space in Mid City. Chesney's anthology of poetry and art "Lottery Blues", coedited by Ulrica Perkins will be published by Little Red Tree Publishing in 2019.

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee.  “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” and “Sanity Among the Wildflowers” were published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (


If you like submitting your poetry, submit (says the Queen of submissions)
If you want to stretch yourself, and you should, try something new.

But most of all, my wish for you all is to never have a week like I did this past week, keep writing, do kind things, and be happy!

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


  1. So grateful to get the chance to collaborate with you, Tobi!

    1. I had a blast!!! Thank you for asking me!!!


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