Wednesday Jun 19

GylysBeth Beth Gylys, currently a Professor at Georgia State University, has published two award winning collections of poetry : Spot in the Dark (Ohio State UP, 2004) and Bodies that Hum (Silverfish Review Press, 1999), and two chapbooks: Matchbook (La Vita Poetica, 2007) and Balloon Heart (Wind Press, 1998).  Awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, The University of Cincinnati, and Syracuse University, she has had work published in many journals including Paris Review, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and The Southern Review.

When I am Blind

When I am blind, colors will smell
of lemon and apricot and sage.
With my fingertips, I will read your body
the way a cook reads the skin
of ready fruit.  Delicious
will be my paradigm.  I will ache
for trees, the sieve of a young moon
severing the dark.  The moon will live
inside me then.  Planting its feet
in the pit of me, it will shine
through my mouth, warm-tongued,
electric.  I will wish for nothing,
consumed by memory: rock,
churned butter, fur, vermilion.
I will clothe myself in shades
I’d never recognize.  Only birds
will know the sky the way I do.

Our Father Of Perpetual Sadness

Father Frederick’s smile has gone away.
Too much adultery, divorce and death.
Too many congregants for whom to pray.
First, the deacon’s son went missing, (they say
his T-cell count is low) then Sister Ruth
got caught with Fr. Chet.  (They’ve run away.)
God seems more distant in church each Sunday
with charges filed, and brother Conrad’s health
in jeopardy—our flock kneels to pray:
for shut-ins, the poor, those who’ve wandered astray—
we lower heads, our voices all one breath.
But Father Frederick’s smile has gone away.
It hurts to look at him.  We’ve lost our way.
Still, he preaches we must maintain our faith--
reminds us weekly about the need to pray.
The Lord redeems and loves, he’ll always say,
yet when I see his face, I feel the earth
is like to buck.  His smile has gone away
and I don’t know who listens when we pray.

What We Have

Wednesday at the market, cliché
of a day: sky blue enough to drink, snowcaps
backdrop to every upward glance.
We’ve got more than we need:
bags burdened with hunks of cheese,
ripe melon and strawberries,
red grapes the size of golf balls.
We stand waiting for our ride
when a white-haired man in a pale gray suit,
wide striped tie, appears.  His face—
all determination—his arms
shaking like dogs tails that can’t
stop wagging, he maneuvers
forward, leans his hip against the edge
of the stand of apples, takes in one hand
his two metal braces, along with a bag
that swings wildly with each jerk
of his arm and the first thick
plunk of a fruit dropped in by the other
spasming hand which then works
toward another, gets a hold,
wavers back toward the open plastic
mouth of the bag. His upper body working
like a kite caught in a windstorm,

we try not to stare at this miracle
of balance. Five minutes he’s at it, for six
small apples. Finished, he positions
his hands on the grips of the braces,
and carefully taking the laden bag in the right,
struggles to the register—legs taut, straining,
arms and metal braces serpentining the air—
and we watch, mortified, cringing,
holding our breath, our bags, our nothing.


You’d never guess it was her second marriage,
every sentence marked now with a “we,”
as in: “Thank God, at last we booked a florist,”
and, “We’ve tried to keep it small, but couldn’t not
invite his father’s partners; then several cousins
are flying in from France—we’re thrilled, of course…
We both want kids. We’re fighting over names
already.”  She pauses. Her eyes focus on something
in the air, “We hope our first’s a girl …”
It’s like the anglerfish, whose angry grimace
grazes the deep sea floor, the young male,
smaller in size, finds himself a female
and latches on.  His sharp teeth embedded,
eventually his lips become absorbed,
their vessels fuse, his eyes and organs lost.
She wears him like an arm or strange appendage.
He becomes so wholly her the only
part of him that finally lasts are testes,
the only part of him she really needs.