Nikki Wallschlaeger

Tree of Life 



                                                                                                                             repair the land 

clean the oceans                                         restore the forests 

                              grow our food                                                       say our stories


                                                                                                                                     bury our dead 

build our shelters                                      ask these questions

                                                                          expect no answers


                                                        nourish our spirits              love our children                                                                                               

who will steam their lattes wash their cars make their beds fuck their husbands rub their feet watch their children eat their day-olds wait their tables walk their corgis paint their toenails staff their office dye their fabrics visit their parks drive their trains absorb their stress screw their wives extend their eyelashes embalm their deceased protect their religion pick their fruit ship their products exercise their demons save their protagonist whiten their teeth fill their pools blow their balloons bleach their assholes change their oil cultivate their roses read their novels ask their questions slaughter their cattle kill their vermin smoke their cigarettes buy their weed open their door manage their income take their temperatures teach their classes bury their cables cook their brunches bang their gavels assign their homework restring their orchestra weave their basket sign their check raise their value pluck their chickens swarm their followers judge their contests cancel their appointments find their veins scrub their profiles write their speeches fight their fires dump their garbage guard their cities view their moments empty their traps greet their guests register their voters fix their trucks rebuild their towers enhance their security restore their art flap their flag play their teams deal their drugs deliver their babies stock their wars read their fortunes light their candles prepare for conclusions     

Mother Earth Gets New Ink 

“Two hundred thousand years ain’t nothin,” she says.”Christ, get over yourselves.” She rotates her left thigh so I can get a better angle for the tattoo gun. A wildfire breaks out on the western coast as the ink penetrates her skin. She rolls her eyes. “You are the most insufferable lifeform. You like dogs more than your own families, and that’s only because you spent centuries domesticating them so they barely remember who they are! What kind of love is that?” A sinkhole opens on a field in the Dakotas. “I have never in my life--my extremely long life-- seen such a silly creature. Believe me, there’s been many, but eventually somewhere along the line of (r)evolution they figure it out.” She paused to take a full hit of the joint she was smoking. The Atlantic Ocean swirled and a military naval exercise was postponed as she exhaled. “Are we done here?” she looked at her leg where I had inked an image of the planet’s likeness and above it, as she had instructed, in thick black script, were the words, “You Don’t Love Mom.” 


Mother Earth Watches the Oscars

She mixes a cocktail and pours out an irritating little rain for their tasteful outfits and pleasures. Oh, these fools. So vainglory in their element, where they belong. She’s known them since they were babies, before their arrival on a royal carpet not even close to the superiority of moss. Maybe a little rumble under their spanx will remind them of something. But they’re used to that, too. Earthquakes are exotic and add ambiance to the end of the world dramas they dabble in, confident somebody else will step in at the last cinematic moment to rescue everybody. Now we can watch together their big moment of triumph. Filmmaking will save the world.The hustle of technology, conversation, and flattery bubbles in her drink before scattering west to rejoin the sunset. 

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Nikki Wallschlaeger is the author of the full-length collections Crawlspace (Bloof Books, 2017) and Houses (Horse Less Press, 2015), as well as the graphic chapbook I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel from Bloof Books (2015). Her work has been featured in the Brooklyn Rail, LIT, jubilat, Apogee, Georgia Review, Witness, Denver Quarterly, Spoon River Review, and others. She was an editor for Bettering American Poetry Anthology 2015, a project promoting the work of marginalized writers. She lives in Wisconsin.