Forklift, Ohio


Cover of SEARCHING FOR PETCO by Skylar Alexander



For three days, I drive the city in search of Petco. Day one,
I tell myself that Petco will be easy to find. I don’t find Petco.
Day two, I use the GPS feature on my cellphone, but despite
reading the directions before embarking, I immediately take wrong turn
after wrong turn so naturally it’s as if it’s a biological need,
like sex or water, to lose myself.

After two hours, I’ve found rivers and laundromats
and stores of all kinds, but none of them are Petco.
I return home, dejected. Day three, I arm myself with machete
and research, and I prepare myself for the bush work.
The veins in this city’s palms lure me from the bones
into the deep, bloody tissue. I’m a pioneer re-charting
the Mississippi frontier; I’m DaVinci tickling
tendons in corpses, cataloging how the creek
joins the river, how the strip mall scaffolds
the apartment complex. I’m a nursery rhyme,
ringing, the Jersey Ridge bone is connected to the
Utica Ridge bone
, and the bones are a body
in which a hundred thousand people respire, inspire,
expire, depending on their mood that day. I’m in this city’s lungs,
not at Petco. In the heart, I spiral around Petco,
but Petco eludes.

For just a jog, a street named Brady is called
Welcome Way. I have a cousin Welcome.
Welcome Normal Lay, she’s named.
That’s not a diversion, but a reminder to stay
, writes Matt Hart in his Sermons.
It’s so easy to get lost, looking for Petco—
especially when lost, looking for Petco. If in doubt,
take Division, or Locust, or keep going
toward the river, and at the river, start again.


Searching for Petco by Skylar Alexander

104 pages, soft cover, perfect-bound, 5.5" x 7.5"


A student of Buddhist philosophy and pop culture, poet Skylar Alexander confesses all in her debut book of poems. Searching for Petco grapples with the self and with self-harm; with permission and survival; with grandmas and mixtapes; with dust bunnies and doom; with making poisonous gas and becoming air; with craving and professional wrestling; with blobfish and leeches; with Norman Reedus and vegans; with Klingons and Iggy Pop; with friends loved and lost; with getting lost; and—yes—with searching for Petco.



Growing up split between an ancestral farmhouse and a busted-up trailer on the banks of the Mississippi River, Skylar Alexander's work centers on pop culture, chronic illness, philosophy, Buddhism, violence, and growing up in rural Iowa. Her writing has appeared in places such as Cutbank, Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, and Forklift, Ohio. She studied English and Entrepreneurial Management at the University of Iowa and is pursuing her master's in Education from NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. A former book designer, she now teaches English in the Bronx.


Copyright © 2022 by Skylar Alexander
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
ISBN 978-0-9995931-9-6

Edited by Matt Hart
Book and cover design by Eric Appleby