Jul-Aug '03 [Home]


1926 Or So
Denver Butson

No Body On Earth, But Yours
Margo Berdeshevsky

An Invitation to Mrs. Maryanne McGuinn
Christopher A. Miller


1926 Or So
Denver Butson

On the notion that once upon a time there were lighthouse keepers and therefore lighthouse keepers' wives and that at the same time there were also traveling projectionists with trunks full of projectors and their lenses and boxes of silent films and the idea that at some point there must have been a projectionist hired by a community or by the Coast Guard or by the lighthouse keeper himself to come with his boxes and show what was in them on one of the white-washed walls of the lighthouse keeper's house and on the chance that at some point during the screening a fog rolled in or a ship's horn sounded out at sea and the lighthouse keeper excused himself and rose a little unsteady on his feet his shadow thrown briefly on the screen with the pantomiming actors on it and climbed the tall tower to make sure there was enough fire for the lamps or to adjust the angle of the reflectors and look out with his telescope across the ocean and during such time that the lighthouse keeper's children were asleep on their blanket in the grass with the light from the flickering film dancing on their eyelids and the projectionist sitting next to his machine with its breath sleepy across his face and his eyes not so much on the film as on the back of the bare neck of the lighthouse keeper's wife wondering how it might smell or taste and then bringing himself to focus again on the next reel readying it for the projector while the lighthouse keeper counted the steps to the top of the tower as he always did but this time with his skin tingling from what the projectionist lit onto the side of his house and the wine the projectionist brought with him and that knowledge that all of it made his wife happy and perhaps calmed her restlessness a bit as she sat on the grass down below and felt the projectionist's eyes on her neck and considered all such necks he must have looked at when he should have been watching the movie which at this point was showing a particularly romantic moment in which two lovers realize that they will fight all odds to be together and she pulled her shawl up around her neck and tucked the blankets a little closer around her children and heard her husband sound the whistle and heard also the motors of the beacon and the answer of the ship out on the water and the chance that the lighthouse keeper's wife would wonder how far away the whistle could be heard and how far the light could be seen out on the ocean and who heard it and if this time they wondered what that other light was thrown onto the side of her house and if they longed to be her with her husband high in his tower and her children asleep on the lawn and this man who brought magic in his boxes yearning for her just for just a few seconds out there in the dark.

~ . ~

No Body On Earth, But Yours
Margo Berdeshevsky

Yours are the only feet with which He can go about the world.
Christ has no body on earth, but yours.
—St. Teresa of Avila

Who shall be hung,
how he writhes, bottle-eyed animal moaning for an eager
war, how a president stamps for orgasm not to be denied for -
now his troops are massed and time, the all we have, chanting.

In a dank stone prison cave in middle Paris, time-balm for
the hour, cave kitsch-ily named la Guillotine, its shined blade-
machina alertly cornered, wall behind our heavy heads we note
has words carved in since fourteen-twenty-one:  Je serai pendu.

I shall be hung. Who shall be hung, all souls, our damp
impatience for - I think that time's invented helm is wacky
spinning Weimar bodies, think it's spewing signs we can't
elude, this night a poet prays, her head
lolling and as though in her own bottle-glass-eye, blind too,
she now can see

a blade's truth of it, how it lowers so necessarily
out of this historic - glow,
more then more our - nineteen-thirty-nine lifts now
with each sun's knife, lifts now. How hawks are bellowing.
How friends position to demand their prejudicial shoe to
stand in - is the human fact I find most evil to bear.
It stands so tall for - thrumming drum and trumpet ready
letting blood notes for -
Indeed "Israelis have chosen their 'Jews'," dear poet.
How deserts choose their endless sands. The dead, their eyes.
Indeed self righteousness grows toes and fingers hourly, what
monster child is this we call our safety for -

A taller man at dinner - motor-minding so from the bowel of his
hates for  fears for  I must wish to leave the table and the de-boned
sole not to hide but out of protest for - oh I must not weep how a brown-
shirt rhetoric so spits like vomit from descendants of the last world war.
What world shall we defend, God, as we bear our beautiful
rope of causes, who'll be hung - for hoping?

(with thanks to marilyn hacker. paris. 1. 2003)

~ . ~

An Invitation to Mrs. Maryanne McGuinn
Christopher A. Miller

From your brown house and your hot kitchen,
across the straw fields and the green evening hills,
down the shadowed river roads and over
the Bucks County backroad bridges
past the bright aluminum diners and the white signs of supermarkets,
to the rectangles and pyramids and
to the bricks and windows of this old city
please come flying.

In your husband's fast red car, or
on the last train from the last redroofed station, or
by a black balloon with a hot red flame.
Leave your babies and your bake pans,
your tax forms and your dry cleaning
leave your cell phone charger and your self-help books,
your wedding rings and your recycling bins, and
please come flying.

Bring your black stockings with the scalloped tops, and
bring your lipstick, your powder, and your shiniest shiny panties.
Bring your office shoes with the pointy toes, and
bring your gloves, your scarf, and your longest long coat.
Bring your plaid nightie with the lace hem, and
bring your booklite, your catseyeglasses, and your fuzziest fuzzy slippers.
please come flying.

The Liberty Bell and the Bell Atlantic Building are lit in your favorite colors
so that you may glide on the bricks across brooks of blue light.
Punkers and potheads wait on their haunches in South Street doorjambs
to panhandle for your blessed quarters.
Martinis are mixed in Old City and fishes are braised off Rittenhouse,
pasta is boiled in Bella Vista and ducks are Pekinged on Race, to
quench, coil, and stoke you. So
please come flying.

For you, Market Street is closed for the night.
For you, peroxide blondes are sliding upside-down on the brass poles at Delilah's.
For you, the Phillies are blowing the game.
For you, the trolleys are rattling up to Drexel and U Penn.
For you, Painted Bride performance artists have painted bullseyes on their breasts.
For you, queers are kissing on benches on Pine Street.
For you, the slates of Washington Square flicker in the plum light like Picasso paintings.
Please come flying.

Please come flying, and
in this two-windowed, high-ceilinged, turpentine-fumed sweatbox we will
run the concave side of a cold spoon down the backs of your thighs,
flick away the moustache smells left on your elbows and your knuckles, and
unpaint your face while the paint drips down your face like days.

Please come flying, and
in this fourth-floor, soul-filled, posters-peeling walkup we will
make batter and bake it and ice those cookies with thin pink flowers,
look at books filled with silver gelatin nude pictures of nude people in nude places, and
melt the ice water in the tall glasses and freeze the night sky outside the squat crossed portholes.

In this parquet-squared, velvet-molded, electrically exposed fusebox we will
collect all of your words and all of your scarlet toenails and lay them on a handkerchief,
dance to the knocking of the band-sanded table legs and the acorns plunking the transom, and
knock knees in the hot soapy water, if you will
please come flying.

From your brown house and your hot kitchen,
come past dark farms and lonely swishing horsetails behind plank fences,
down the highway like a bullet through a barrel,
to this smoky humid city, through these alluvial streets.
Come haughty, proud, with your resolute sapphire eyes commandeering.
Come guilty, contrite, with an ivory rosary wound tight around your knuckles.
Come naked, catty, skimmed with sweat and with biting insects on your lips.
Come coy, coquettish, cavalierly calling from the sidewalk for the time, a time, any time at all.
please come flying.

(With equal apologies to Ms. Bishop and Ms. Moore.)

~ . ~

Denver Butson's books are Triptych (The Commoner Press, 1999), Mechanical Birds (St. Andrews College Press, 2001), Illegible Address (Luquer Street Press, 2003), Grace:  For All the Children and Blood Works (both in collaboration with Pietro Costa, Raphael Fodde Editions, 2003). His poem, "Tuesday 9:00 AM", was chosen by Billy Collins to be part of POETRY 180, a Library of Congress program for U.S. high schools, and an anthology on Random House, 2003. He runs workshops and coaches individual writers for WritersWriting.com. He lives in New York.

Margo Berdeshevsky's poems and/or images have appeared in Nimrod, Poetry Intl, Frank, Van Gogh's Ear, 100 Poets Ag. the War, Rattapallax, The So. Calif. Anthology, Many Mountains Moving, Short Fuse, Pharos, Bamboo Ridge, Tears in the Fence, etc. and at The Pacific Center of Photography and La Librairie Galérie Racine. Her photos will appear in Contes Cubains, a collaboration. Awards include the PSA's Robert H. Winner, an Ann Stanford, Border's Books/Honolulu Magazine Grand Prize Fiction, Finalist for Walt Whitman Award and the Fence Modern Poet Series. She lives in Paris and Hawaii.

Christopher A. Miller is a graduate of the College of New Jersey's literature program, where he studied with the Trenton poet Peter Wood. He has lived and traveled extensively across the U.S., especially in the cities of the East Coast, and makes his living as an architectural writer. He recently completed a first novel and is currently at work on a collection of short stories.