by Derek Webster
A Woman Mauled by a Bear
Dreamt of factories, woke
to smoke and sweat, the too-much smell of it.
It was on my stomach, looked up:
my face a runny sunset. Dried paint today.
Wet leather licking my inner ear.
What angered it into my tent?
A motorcycle accident, a man
died in time
to save my hieroglyphic skin.
I think of him, the places where
they sewed whatever he had left
I wanted to be chosen,
to fill a voice as if my own.
As if through chamber doors
this music came, a love so full
I took it to my bed.
I owned the sound of breath, then.
I owned both ears.
Ahead loping backwards,
Behind like a mime. My sidewalking shadow
more desirable than I, its cause.
No face licking between my scars.
My face on the mirror Picasso-obscene.
No one wants to hold snake-skin.
like oak in spring: the top-most branch
the first green sprig.
Black Pygmalion eyes looked in.
The girl made stone lived on.
A chorus of old men climbs the stairs.
My father taught me everything he could many times.
Divorce: I hold your prosthesis in mine.
The furnace starts.
The long winter has set in, and I am still a romantic.
"Alone up north," I said, "we will be cold, and deep in love."
I have no idea what idea means.
Who was I, while you changed our flat in rain?
Last summer we
went back to kicking hard.
Now, the cows' mouths stand open
from five until six. The third stair creaks.
When I finish mourning I will visit you.
Three apples in one hand.
In the well: the blue sky
behind you, looking down.
The smell of her genitals clings to my mouth.
It wells up. That is why one builds stones around it.
Easter: hollow eggs in a glass bowl.
If we had the right camera, we could see.
A maple's purpose: to branch out and leave.
Ha ha ha. That's how it started.
Although it is not one,
an orange is a reason not to die.
We learn like frogs.
This is the day warm days begin.
Slavonic Empress of the Blues
Born in the days of smallpox,
She sang the sharp Cyrillic blues
Learned in the days of steam and press,
She sang the name-changing blues:
To the steel basin, the laundry twine,
The new hot dog and Brooklyn's bridge
Roll on, Kominsky, roll on.
Donkey cello rooster bed
The night the candles burned upside down
Leaving her row house, her suitcase, her pearl
Seeing highways' dark mint whirl
She sang the prickly blues:
But that's not all:
Stove pipes, wooden rain barrels
Armless men with brown apples
By order of the King:
Inherit a sad ending
She sang, too, the nameless blues.
Roll on, Kominsky, roll on.
In Egyptian art, one archer
Stands for all archers,
Their contour drawn from his thigh, his shin,
His chest, his bow and quiver,
A deck of faces slightly spread.
Archers are like animals; this frieze
Shows their discipline, how they are able
To draw as one, calm, sure
To recline with friends
And lyre again, the string-twang
Become gentle stroking, a bed waiting,
Patter only of rain and conversation.
Their ruler's missive: the missile's release.
Artist and archer know: war means a life.
His eye without pupil. His long bow raised.
His wall of falling arrows. His bodies on a field.
Beauty and Truth
E.g., the time we stayed in Princeton:
after sex, after breakfast, out for a walk,
you stopped to set your matchless face
beside a gourd, glowing and featureless
on a high porch's seventh white stair
and a woman of a certain age came out,
"Wrong house, love, Einstein's is next door."
most recently in Natural Bridge, Pleiades, The New Quarterly
and Nerve. He served as assistant editor to William H. Gass on
Literary St. Louis: A Guide, published by the Missouri Historical
Society, and has just moved to Montreal, where he is planning to start
a bi-national literary magazine (any interest or prospective names much
appreciated; send via email).