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November 17, 2017 | Poetry

Four Poems

Erica Bernheim

Four Poems photo

When Staying Is More Like Leaving

The party you always wanted
to host in the furniture show-

room is over. The last to leave
is the love child of the glass-

blower and the octopus. A small
animal starter kit: you’d always

wanted a hamster and it’s a shame
we parted ways before I could see

the photos of your mother’s new hand.
I do picture her occasionally. She is

hiding in my garage, threatening to eat
my lunch if I’m not careful, telling me

I may have the mindset of a drawbridge,
but no one is fooled all the time. Everyone

who loves a person knows this dread
and wishes all our finds would be

fixed with the addition of feathers
to the cars stolen by teenagers: fires,

engines, girls, no keys, no clues,
and set it on fire when you’re done.

Apply your makeup with the back
of your old hand, Mrs. K. I can’t

remember the name of the material
that is the floor of Jupiter’s skating

rinks, but some walls are the highest
because we know you like them that way.


Victim of Movie Violence Speaks

Do you remember how it too took me
from behind, where even razors fail?

Sideburns straight and even, groomed
in seconds, in between and gentle on

the skin, debrised. More walls I have
no intention of meaning. It is a mile to

the thrill, to the ridge. Easier to talk
of the glam and porous, where it might

have happened: a cathedral, a piazza,
the moonlight atop silvered branches

through the hedge maze of a count,
so circus, with penalty, with wandering,

not hiding, poured that sweet holy wood.
Take me to dinner and I’ll win you that

centerpiece. I will treat you to a listing
of how to find me in future appearances:

the anxious customer, victim of implosion
in the blue hat, traveler in shipwreck teenage

mermaid dream sequence, frightened tenant
of the first building to catch wind of the scheme. 


The Windsor Hum (Zug Island)

If Grandma is to be believed, we’ll all evolve
into a different species: like cats, we’ll land on
our feet nearly all the time, and we’ll be killers;

like leaf blowers, we’ll carry reflectors in our eyes,
in our yeses. We’ll want to believe that history is
the result of our intentions. When we watch old

videos, how can you stand knowing everyone in
them is dead? We are not the only animals that can
go feral. The hum makes us do strange things. We

send photos of our breasts to people who will not
send them back. Tell me I’m barely existing and other
things I want to know. This sound speeds the velocity

of the human body by more than three seconds. One
language can be another person’s. When you say
machinations, I don’t realize how to avoid them.

This sound can be compared to the lands of domesticity.
This sound cannot be heard without headphones.
This sound cannot be unheard when there’s no atmosphere.

You will etch your name in the most lunar dust. This world
may be large enough for none of us, saddest darling. I chased
after you. You threw my luggage against the side of your car.


Fantasy Sized

Fifteen years later and still scared, your
girlfriend phones the police when you sit
down hard on the sidewalk, a man with

glasses to spare and nowhere to be today.

 

image: Tara Wray


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