SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: NICKY BEER

By Nicky Beer:


DEAR BRUCE WAYNE,

My parents are dead, too.
A dirty, self-cannibalizing Gotham—
I also claim it, its city limits
built by my skin. I slough
and slough, but the city remains.
Tell me, if you’d watched
your mother’s face go
a slow yellow after they cut
off her breast, if you’d watched
your father’s mind get chewed down
to spasms, who would
you fight then? What broken
string of pearls would you chase
into the gutter? Lucky boy
to have an enemy.

*
Admit it—what bugs you
the most about the Joker
is his drag. You suspect
his crayoned mouth a lampoon
of your dead mother.
But don’t you crave,
sometimes, to be a little
tacky? Doesn’t the all-black
bore after a while?
Even your sweet ride can’t help
but leave a little fart of flames
in its wake.
How many others
glare from the shadows
at a one-man parade
in a loud costume, blowing
glitter kisses at grim Justice?
You just think you want
to kill him for better reasons.
What kind of person would trade
laughter for righteousness?

*
Every woman goes out
knowing what you think
you alone had sussed:
the world is a dark alley
hiding a gun in its mouth.
It has more than enough
reasons to make you
cover your face.
The moon waxes. The bruise
wanes. Every woman
is Batman.



Today’s poem first appeared in Issue Four of Cherry Tree, February 2018, and is reprinted here with permission from the poet.


Nicky Beer is the author of The Octopus Game (Carnegie Mellon, 2015) and The Diminishing House (Carnegie Mellon 2010), both winners of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. She has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver, and a poetry editor for the journal Copper Nickel. You can find her on Twitter at @nbeerpoet.

Guest Editor’s Note: As with all epistolary poems, this one is meant not only for the recipient—in this case Bruce Wayne—but is addressed to readers located in this complicated and frustrating time and place in history. The first line is reminiscent of a fan letter, choosing a shared experience between fan and celebrity that brings them together in some way, but the feeling that they are kindred spirits stops there. What follows in that stanza are philosophical questions about death and justice in the voice of someone who needs to find an enemy to rail against and a tragedy to seek retribution for in order to feel heroic power associated with that “Lucky boy” in line 14. The first stanza braces the reader for more questions for this hero who everyone has been led to believe fights diabolic evil in the world wherever it rears its head and who seems to have misunderstood what it is he is fighting against.

The two stanzas that follow further distance the hero from the letter writer and anyone who holds him in heroic esteem. The second stanza brilliantly questions Mr. Wayne about what really bugs him about the Joker and suggests that perhaps he harbors some jealousy for the evildoer’s colorful style, reducing the Batmobile to a “sweet ride” that can only leave “a little fart of flames / in its wake.” The speaker uses some cunning psychoanalysis on the Caped Crusader, deflating his motives and weakening his stature as a revered hero. The third stanza reveals truths women have always known about the nature of this “dirty, self-cannibalizing Gotham” we live in and how women cope every day in a world that “is a dark alley / hiding a gun in its mouth.” The final lines are a punch just below Batman’s utility belt that knocks the air out of his alter ego, reducing him to a bruise that wanes.

Want to read more by and about Nicky Beer?
Nicky Beer’s Official Website


Guest Editor Anne Graue is the author of Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press), and has published poems in literary journals and anthologies, including The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books), Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus (Bibliotheca Alexandrina), Gluttony (Pure Slush Books), The Plath Poetry Project, One Sentence Poems, Random Sample Review, Into the Void Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, and Rivet Journal.

A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB


SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: PATRICE BOYER CLAEYS

By Patrice Boyer Claeys:

Favorite Color
after Ruth Stone’s “White on White”

A yellow flag iris,
a lick of flame,
glass of Sauternes.

Blinking lights at intersections,
the bills of mallards, old knotty pine
paneling, sticky to the touch.

Lemon meringue pie,
spent elm leaves, the fish brought home
from the fair in its water-filled bag.

Caution tape to mark the murder scene,
the road to Oz,
a wobbling flan, chicken fat.

The burning hydrogen of Arcturus,
broken brooms,
xenophobic dread.

A cheesy joke, wheezy phlegm,
the running rheumy eyes and shaded
teeth of jaundiced men.

Mustard, pus and broken yolks.
The nicotine-stained fingers
of Johnny Cash and Vonnegut.

Slimy bile, old bruises, the pulsing
membrane on the poisonous gland.
The dusty, bitter sex of crocus throat.

 

Today’s poem first appeared in Volume 5, Issue 1 of Bird’s Thumb and appears here today with permission from the poet.

 

Patrice Boyer Claeys enjoys the freedom of the empty nest. She thanks her writing group, Plumb Line Poets, for keeping her chiseling away. Her work has appeared in Mom Egg Review, Found Poetry Review, Blue Heron, Avocet, ARDOR, the Aurorean, Beech Street Review and Bird’s Thumb, and is forthcoming in Nassau Review. She was featured in Light, a Journal of Photography and Poetry. She was nominated for Best of the Net.

Guest Editor’s Note: On the surface, the literal and the metaphorical are given equal weight in this poem by Patrice Boyer Claeys. Each item anticipates the next, and the effect is a list of things that are yellow that might or might not be favorable in spite of the title “Favorite Color.” The poet references Ruth Stone’s “White on White” to give some direction for reading, which feels like an excavation, a mining for truth in the scrutiny of the color, its denotation and connotations.

Each line of the poem seems innocuous until the fifth stanza which ends with “xenophobic dread.” This metaphor stops the speaker’s examination of the more benign imagery that includes mallard bills, knotty pine, and “Lemon meringue pie,” and illuminates the “blinking lights of intersections” that has become a portent of imminent threats.

The final three stanzas do not disappoint in providing perilous symbols of imminent dangers, both familiar and unfamiliar. The depictions of disease—the “wheezy phlegm,” the “rheumy eyes,” the “old bruises”—succeed in changing the tone and in producing a mood of ominous expectation. The speaker observes instances of yellow and presents those that are the most necessary to the theme which seems to be a warning and a lesson in keen observation and meaning in context.

Want to read more by and about Patrice Boyer Claeys?
RHINO Poetry
Blue Heron Review
Beech Street Review

 

Anne Graue

Guest Editor Anne Graue is the author of Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), and has published poems in literary journals and anthologies, including The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books), the Plath Poetry Project, One Sentence Poems, and Rivet Journal.

 

A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, the time has come for change. I am thrilled to expand my role to Managing Editor and provide the opportunity for fresh voices to contribute to this ongoing dialogue. Today and in the coming weeks, please help me welcome a series of guest editors to the newest incarnation of the Saturday Poetry Series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB

 

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: MIRIAM’S SONG

Feuerbach_Mirjam_2

“Miriam the prophetess” by Anselm Feuerbach. Public Domain image.


“Miriam the prophetess… took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women followed her with tambourines and dances. And Miriam called to them: Sing…” (Exodus 15:20-21)




Editor’s Note: The most important thing that has happened to Passover this year is the Notorious RBG’s decree that when we remember the Exodus, we need to remember the women. First and foremost among them, for me, is Miriam. The unsung hero of what is usually thought of as “Moses’ story,” Miriam is responsible for everything from Moses’ birth to his survival to providing water for the Israelites throughout their forty-year-sovereign in the desert. The first person in the Bible to be called a prophet, Miriam was beloved by her people but less-loved by her creator, who struck her down with leprosy to teach her the consequences of a woman voicing her opinion.

Song is one of the oldest forms of poetry, and the poetry of the Bible is one of the oldest written records of poetry we have. Sadly, all that remains of Miriam’s song in the Bible is a call to action: “And Miriam called to them: Sing…”

We are lucky, therefore, that Debbie Friedman (1951-2011) picked up this mantle. In “Miriam’s Song” she joins her voice with a new generation of women to remember and celebrate the heroine of the Passover story, responding to the prophetess’ call to action: “Sing.” Beloved by women and men alike all the world over, Debbie Friedman and “Miriam’s Song” are the kinds of modern Passover traditions we need. Inclusive and powerful, shedding new light on ancient traditions. For, as Debbie Friedman reminds us, “The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions.”

Want more Miriam, Debbie Friedman, and Feminist Passover?
Read the lyrics to “Miriam’s Song” by Debbie Friedman on Ritualwell
Debbie Friedman via the Jewish Women’s Archive
Miriam via the Jewish Women’s Archive
Buy The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Passover Haggadah on Amazon

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: ELIZABETH LANGEMAK

LangemakPhoto

By Elizabeth Langemak:

A PHOTOGRAPH OF HER SHOWERING

                                          As passionless, burned-out, dusty shells, we dislike love poems . . . As [one of our editors] says, why not “text me a photograph of her showering”?

I am enclosing, as text, the photo
you ask for. Though my husband

refuses, I make this in secret
and print it black over white. Though

the angles and lighting are tough
to nail down, and the process

makes my whole body a long face
for tears as the spray breaks over

my scalp and rolls down.
Though my right hand withers,

as I rake damp hair into rows.
Though the cheap curtain cleaves

to my thigh, I peel it off like a rind
teased from its fruit in one strip.

You thought I was dusty, a shell.
You said I was burned out,

but now my skin is slapping and slick,
the camera demanding more arch

and frontal. When I read your note
I was spitting with anger. I could

not get your eyes off my nipples,
my breasts, but now I make you

this square handful of edges,
a black-and-white chip where my ass

hangs over tan lines like a sun
without set, where stretch marks

like fault lines ride over each thigh
and a pocked scar stabs into my shoulder.

Once I knew men like you and tried
to be sexy but in the shower

I only got soaked. On the bed
where I practiced I only looked

posed. In cabins on nights with your jars
full of scotch I hoped you might

see past what you saw and fuck me,
but now it seems we have both changed

our minds. Here I am. In a poem,
just breath-long, I am perfect.

I send you this picture because
a photo of showering is just wet

and sex, but the poem lays down
its camera and hands me a towel,

knows the route I send it
over my calves, over my nape

and around. How many
flashes and clicks turn a love poem

around into only a woman to
fuck you? Fuck you.

Today’s poem was originally published in AGNI and appears here today with permission from the poet.

Elizabeth Langemak lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem is one of resistance. In response to the editors who called love poems “burned-out, dusty shells” and said, why not “text me a photograph of her showering,” Elizabeth Langemak speaks out against the objectification of women’s bodies and the misogyny rearing its ugly head in a still-patriarchal society. Frankly feminist, exquisitely lyric, and commendably unabashed, today’s poet answers the question “Why not text me a photograph of her showering?” with the only response needed: “Fuck you.”

Want more from Elizabeth Langemak?
Elizabeth Langemak’s Official Website

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: KELLY CRESSIO-MOELLER

Photo on 2014-12-29 at 18.20_2_2


By Kelly Cressio-Moeller:


ITHAKA

Dear Penelope, do you now sleep among the catacombs?

Scarves of white drift over the Aegean – an altar of bottomless blue.

I have gone to the edge of the world and still cannot find you.

Even the olive trees raise their spangled limbs skyward in longing.

Mother Earth slides her abacus beads, conjures storms quick as curses.

When lightning struck, did the boat protect or beckon the bolt?

Island flowers shut their eyes only when the stars disrobe – hope and sorrow held
within the same root.

She imagines him bright-toothed & swarthy, but her husband is just sunburned & homesick.

So many suitors holding her skeins – she’s woven a trail for her waylaid mariner, long
as his beard and her undoing.

In twenty years she has never asked, What shall I wish for myself?

Odysseus wonders, Do I have the right to return?

Maids cast offerings to the sea: red rose petals and grape leaves, love and wine all that remain.


** The line What shall I wish for myself? is a reworking Mary Oliver’s line What shall I wish for, for myself?


Today’s poem was originally published in Thrush Poetry Journal and appears here with permission from the poet.


Kelly Cressio-Moeller’s poetry is forthcoming in burntdistrict and has previously appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Rattle, Spillway, ZYZZYVA and elsewhere as well as the anthology First Water: Best of Pirene’s Fountain and Diane Lockward’s book, The Crafty Poet. Three of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She shares her fully-caffeinated life with her tall husband, two ever-growing sons, and their immortal basset hound in Northern California.

Editor’s Note: “Ithaka” exists in the eye of the storm of the epic. Address and persona are interwoven with the personal, the poet’s experience becoming one with Penelope’s need and Odysseus’ long journey home. Against the backdrop of the familiar, we find ourselves adrift on a sea of the unexpected, where lyricism is heroic and longing is complex. Similes and metaphors are seamlessly stitched into the poem’s fabric: limbs are spangled, clouds are “scarves of white,” the ocean is an altar. When the poet enters, the simple is made profound: “I have gone to the edge of the world and still cannot find you.” When we arrive, the shores are shaped like questions: “Do I have the right to return?” “What shall I wish for myself?

Want more from Kelly Cressio-Moeller?
Boxcar Poetry Review
Cultural Weekly
Escape Into Life
Rattle
Valparaiso Poetry Review