Verdad Magazine Volume 6
Spring 2009, Volume 6
Drury Award Winner
Poetry by Susan Beem
Satellite photos reveal
a scientific surprise:
grazing cattle, world wide
align themselves on meridians,
heads nodding northward.
a biologic magnet resides
deep in a cranial crevice,
an inherited trait
the same gift given to migratory birds.
I question this quick conclusion.
Could this boreal orientation arise instead
from the simple joy of sunshine on genitals,
a form of bovine self-pleasuring
an inborn sexuality
a splendor in the grass?
Just ask the cowboy
how herds gravitate to his campfire,
point derrieres toward the flame,
lowing in deep, satisfied voices.
They are found
frozen in drifts of snow
cold and still on strangers' stoops
in baskets unwoven by time
swathed in soft flannel of pink or blue
They are thrown away
in corrugated boxes
over bridge railings in weighted burlap
found desiccated in remote desert caves
abandoned on hospital doorsteps
dazed, alive, and alone
They are disassembled
like old computers
encased in cement
tossed out in dumpsters
burned with dead branches on an isolated ridge
the disposable afterthoughts of passion
expendable targets of rage
detritus of ignorant expectations
innocents caught in the crosshairs
never meant to be
discarded as broken toys
Today, I was kidnapped from my car and dropped into memory.
Perhaps it was the symmetry of my hands on the wheel,
the opening bars, the four-four beat throbbing from the radio,
or the honeyed tone of reeds that evoked this moment,
an experience as brief as the flick of gecko's tongue,
this bodily memory of mom.
She and I are dancing in the brightly lit activity room
of the nursing home, a trio of singer, accordion and clarinet
performs a jaunty tune from the 1940's.
Her eighty-year-old rib cage is between my hands,
her slender fingers hold my upper arms,
her elbows nestle in the crooks of mine.
I sense her poor balance between my fingers,
in the tightening grasp near my shoulders.
But, she is laughing, humming, flirting with,
winking at any alert man in the room—
hopefully reliving the joy she once felt while
twirling in GI arms at the USO.
She gradually quiets, mumbles "tired" and steps up against me
tucking her face against my chest.
I feel her weight, the burning of her cheek,
as she continues to shuffle to the rhythm.
I feel the delicate softness of her white sweater,
smell the shampoo in her silver hair.
Inside this memory, I unexpectedly recall
how wonderful it was as a girl to snuggle against mom's chest,
moving with the rise and fall of ribs, feeling the cushion
of her breasts, hearing the mystery of her pulse.
Back in my car, my ransom of sigh and tears paid,
I wonder if mom was aware of my childhood comfort in her arms,
of my delight in holding her
on that day we swayed together.
Long After the Gods Knew to Stand Clear, I Learn That Eros Never Passed His Archery Exams
While dozing in the afterglow, my head lolling on your chest,
your left arm snaking around my shoulder, both of us
lost in that animal funk of pheromones and sweat,
Cupid let loose his wild dart that pierced my eyes
then lodged in your heart, freeing you
from your fossilized bachelor's shell
while blinding me to your epic erections:
your wall of impenetrable intoxication,
your barrier of cigarette smoke, like dragon's breath
tolerable only in the far chilly corners of our cave
your moat of altered memory, algae clogged
where my words drown like enemy hordes.
Sadly, inept Cupid missed his mark a second time,
his arrow penetrating one ear and exiting the other,
taking with it most of your hearing
and the midbrain hub of any willingness
to use hearing aids,
to pay attention.
I know. I should feel fortunate.
You are a sappy, bawdy Bacchus,
a cold-nosed puppy, affectionate and loyal.
But, you declare true love while I
stand wedded, but lonely,
studded with quivering barbs of false intimacy.
I'm through hoping for the healing of Eros' poor aim.
Instead, I pray that mighty Orion
drive his sharpest spear
up that damned rosy cherub's ass.
It's that kiss I want, oh Lord,
the cinema kiss.
You know, the one
where the towering Adonis
with sensitive, searching eyes
takes my face in handsome hands,
fingertips fluffing the hair above my ears
as the comfortable convexities of warm palms
cushion my cheeks.
I glow, I melt, I approach a swoon
as my face and head are gently drawn
to yield under burning lips.
I have witnessed that kiss
a thousand times or more,
painted on posters, magnified on movie screens.
Yet, it has never belonged to me.
The wandering hands of my loves
home in on chest, waist or thighs,
two strong arms enfold me
in a grip, more firm than tender,
a hold much easier to escape
than the physical longing
the delectable desire
the burning anticipation
of that special kiss
that overwhelms me
in my dreams.
BIO: Sue Beem is a retired physician, a Long Beach resident, and a current LBCC student. "My journey into poetry began only six years ago. I enjoy the writing, the community of poets, and what poetry has brought to my outlook on the world."