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


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Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

“Charon’s Boat” By Otto Brausewetter

 

Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

By John Dorsey

 

Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

& there is nothing to eat
a mouse carrying a ham sandwich died
in the corner of the room

its stomach full with pride

but that seems like centuries ago
when mice did things like that
when the outline of a young mother’s thigh
could evoke the holy spirit

when we were all the afterlife of the party

when of all our hungry closets got fed

when love danced around
every corner
of our heart

with no reservations.

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Check out our interview with John Dorsey on his book, Letting the Meat Rest.

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About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com

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Larry

Walker Evans (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

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Larry

By Tim Peeler

 

Larry

There’s an owl-faced hillbilly boy staring at me across
The Cracker Barrel dining room where I’m sat back to the fireplace,
Waiting on pecan-crusted catfish, cornbread,
Collards, contemporary country music with its TV accent
Bursting forth like busted springs—that boy
Probably thinks I’m as old as the shit hanging on wall
To authenticate somehow this cattle drive of victuals,
And in the old days I would have frightened him or challenged
His daddy to step outside, but now I know I am just
Another spectacle pinned to the walls of the living
To someway make it look real.

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About the Author: A past winner of the Jim Harrison Award for contributions to baseball literature, Tim Peeler has also twice been a Casey Award Finalist (baseball book of the year) and a finalist for the SIBA Award. He lives with his wife, Penny in Hickory, North Carolina, where he directs the academic assistance programs at Catawba Valley Community College. He has published close to a thousand poems, stories, essays, and reviews in magazines, journals, and anthologies and has written sixteen books and three chapbooks. He has five books in the permanent collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY. His recent books include Rough Beast, an Appalachian verse novel about a southern gangster named Larry Ledbetter, Henry River: An American Ruin, poems about an abandoned mill town and film site for The Hunger Games, and Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball Poems, his third volume of baseball-related poems.

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The Art of Acquiescence

Paula Modersohn-Becker “Die Klagender Frauen” (1902)

 

The Art of Acquiescence

By Margaret Crocker

 

THE ART OF ACQUIESCENCE

To be a woman
in this world
is to bend and curve and slip around its corners
like a snake in the river.

The river has always been there,
the current
and the rocky banks,
the tangle of roots,
a snapping turtle,
a stray foot
or fish just larger than you.
Your role is not to disturb, no.
Look at you!
You have no bones to do so!

All you want is a bug,
a minnow,
a stray lizard,
sunshine
and a warm rock.
But the foot is there,
the current
and the hook.
And you will contort yourself
to meet them all.

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About the Author: Margaret Crocker is an artist, writer, wife, mother, daughter, sister and thief. She collects stray animals and has this weird fantasy of being on The Great British Baking Show, despite the fact she uses a bread machine. She knows little but proclaims much. There is much we don’t know about her.

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Maiden Voyage

Arthur Brown “Man on Bridge” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Maiden Voyage

By Howie Good

 

Maiden Voyage

All things are photographable. Two days ago it was a ruined farmer walking slowly over a country bridge, as if looking for a place to jump. Yesterday it was a man washing a car. Today it was a woman arranging a light-up plastic Jesus in a front yard. Meanwhile, the few children ever visible in this broken part of the world seemed even fewer than usual. Does that surprise you? The only explanation I heard I heard at the barbershop. It was that the Titanic sailed at dawn.

 

About the Author: Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize.  His latest collection is I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books. He co-edits the journals UnLost and Unbroken  with Dale Wisely.

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Mull to Ulva

 Peter Henry Emerson “Cantley: Wherries Waiting for the Turn of the Tide” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

 

Mull to Ulva

By Tobi Alfier

 

Mull to Ulva

Because the distance from land-shore to island
is a fingersnap in the constant of all time.

Because the tides bless fishermen and landlocked alike, full creels
the harvest here, no watery graves, no heartsong, no tears.

Because the store displays bait and boat, strong needles
for sewing the lace of fishing line, not delicate woman-lace.

Because the sun burns with savage brightness, much
as the evening stars will burn unwatched and un-wished upon.

Because the ghosts of old souls and older relics own
the dark, with nary a mortal light upon any land, sea or shore.

Because here, no one interprets the thousand pin-pricks
composing a symphony in the eggy blackness of night.

Because the fragrance of this summer conjures
memory after memory of all pasts and futures.

Because there is no caretaker, no guardian to aid thin fog
search the inlet for branch or crevice with which to gain purchase—

I wish to walk barefoot on old stone, become one with the earth and sea,
learn their secrets, raise my arms to the stars. Palm to palm, our hearts.

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(This poem was originally published in Down Anstruther Way)

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About the Author: Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee.  Her chapbook “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Aldrich Press. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was just published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

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The Ferry Captain

“Captain in the Rain at Cleggan Pier, Ireland.” By Jeffrey Alfier

 

The Ferry Captain

By Jeffrey Alfier

 

The Ferry Captain

He is the hull, diesel and waterline that mark him,
ligature of fists on the wheel. He is bow wave
and sting of spindrift, inlets sprawled with waterfowl,
tidewrack, a mind drawing tangent lines no one sees.
The wheelhouse is his tabernacle in the wilderness.
He’s a bulkhead’s argument with rust, a pennant’s
argument with gales. Spend enough of your life
at sea and you can tell windward from leeward
by the taste of wind alone. At a small remove,
just back of the helm, passengers serry against
north Atlantic cold, their voices clipped
by gusts keening through antenna wires.
Sheltered waters far astern, he is the rote cadence
of the deck crew’s footfalls. He won’t worry how late
he gets home, how long he’ll stand with his back
to the seawall, a phone ringing somewhere without
his answer, the sea a rhythm locked in his heart.

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(This poem originally appeared in The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books, 2014)

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About the Author: Jeffrey Alfier is 2018 winner of the Angela Consolo Manckiewick Poetry Prize, from Lummox Press. In 2014 he won the Kithara Book Prize, judged by Dennis Maloney. Publication credits include Crab Orchard ReviewSouthern Poetry ReviewAtlanta Review, Copper NickelEmerson ReviewIron Horse Literary ReviewKestrelHotel AmerikaMidwest QuarterlyPoetry Ireland Review and South Carolina Review. He is author of The Wolf YearlingIdyll for a Vanishing RiverFugue for a Desert MountainAnthem for Pacific Avenue: California PoemsSouthbound Express to Bayhead: New Jersey PoemsThe Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland PoemsBleak Music – a photo and poetry collaboration with poet Larry D. Thomas and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland. He is founder and co-editor at Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. An Air Force veteran, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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