Monday Jul 22

BeederAmy Amy Beeder is the author of Burn the Field (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2006) and Now Make An Altar (2012). Her work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Nation, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, and many other journals. She lives in Albuquerque and has taught poetry at the University of New Mexico and Taos Summer Writers Conference. A recipient of an NEA Fellowship, the "Discovery"/The Nation Award, a James Merrill Residence, a Bread Loaf Scholarship, and the Witness Emerging Writers Award, she has also worked as a legal writer, freelance reporter, political asylum specialist, high-school teacher in West Africa, and an election and human rights observer in Haiti and Suriname.

Though from a distance it looked like a prison

bastioned our high school with its grim facade & archer slits
            for windows, what vivid mountains rose just west!           

Notwithstanding lack of ventilation; classrooms stacked like cells
            around a courtyard webbed with refuse; despite R— C—         

who killed his parents on that county road; despite the globes so
            dumbly pencil-scarred, our state a silver bruise; though          

none can forget without effort catcalls (fag) in stairwells (slut); though I
            I was only an echo, a whirlwind, a little white heifer, a swan;

despite crepe-paper pageants; ditto homeroom, ditto stillborn pigs
            that we & suburbs' cruelest sons in eighty-six did grimly

flense, dissect & trim with pins; despite black-sharpied Fuck on brick;
            the queens & freaks, the jocks & born-agains & requisite

vaginas scribed in Chaucer's grimy crease; while bus fumes bloomed
            inskies alight with borealis & a burning shuttle; notwithstanding           

the fields covered overnight in houses, the redolent lunchroom,
            the band spittoon's brass crash; despite (& now cue           

a single soaring sour trombone's note!) all that I confess
            I thought to exorcise, when I bear my daughter to the same           

steel doors I will say memory is a dark maze always—
            what else to do but call with hope or forged affection           

on the softness of bleachers, the ether of ceilings;                
            what else but paint in spirit green the reneged scene?

The Association for the Prevention of Premature Burial Thanks You

for your liberal contribution. It's pretty much what we expect
            from you fickle Victorians—

spawning Darwinists but leasing children, reading
            Byron in a poor light. You had certain fears.

Devolution, for example, à la Mr Hyde & live internment.

Nursery rhymes or prayers would liken death
            to sleep— Sleep, pussy, die, shut your little eye

—so truly was it that absurd? Given current theories
            about bad air & miasma, to fear revival

in a airless space, medals piercing your pre-tubercular chest?
            (If I should die before ) Poe's true fear: entombed before

the spark has fled, the living taken with the dead: o you
            infamously syphilitic men awaiting suffocation,                                  

souls lost 'mong heaps of bone, you soiled & poxed:
            wasn't it the grave robber most likely to espy

the patented device "permitting the awakened to pull
            a velvet cord which will activate a flag & bells" ?

Here I am, O resurrection man! A knock on the head

& you're lifeless again: Pussy eats dirt from a sky-blue plate;
            earth wins, a broken spade. Prophetic, you gentlemen:

a chapter between opium abuse & rampant prostitution.

Whole Cities Burn for Your Account Number


Your urgent assistance needed with absolute trust.
I swear I never touched those horses of my father
nevertheless without trial I was accused of plots

when Caucasus burned & Ossa burned, and Pindus−
So I must solicit your strictest confidence in this
matter. I think you can be of Greatest Help to me!

I am PHAETHON, son of the god HELIOS

who deposited for me the sum of $17.5 million
before Xanthus knew a second burning, though
I beg you would keep that information private

as well as leaves burnt crisp & crops made tinder
(because of my country's unending political crises)
& that my sisters turned to poplars in their grief.

Madame, I respectfully offer you 12 percent despite

the unsteered chariot spokes & wheels thus shattered.
What grace I did escape with God's help & UN soldiers
(my hair still smoking with the fire of that forked bolt)

to Amsterdam where security companies are reliable
though all other peopled kingdoms into ashes turn.
Please confirm receipt & quote the reference number,

all burning, burning and the wreckage scattered far.