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Best Famous Erin Belieu Poems

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by Erin Belieu | |

From On Being Fired Again

 I've known the pleasures of being
fired at least eleven times—

most notably by Larry who found my snood
unsuitable, another time by Jack,
whom I was sleeping with.
Poor attitude, tardiness, a contagious lack of team spirit; I have been unmotivated squirting perfume onto little cards, while stocking salad bars, when stripping covers from romance novels, their heroines slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love— and always the same hard candy of shame dissolving in my throat; handing in my apron, returning the cash- register key.
And yet, how fine it feels, the perversity of freedom which never signs a rent check or explains anything to one's family.
.
.


by Erin Belieu | |

The Hideous Chair

 This hideous,
upholstered in gift-wrap fabric, chromed
in places, design possibility

for the future canned ham.
Its genius wonderful, circa I993.
I've assumed a great many things: the perversity of choices, affairs I did or did not have.
But let the record show that I was happy.
O let the hideous chair stand! For the Chinese apothecary with his roots and fluids; for Paoul at the bank; for the young woman in Bailey's Drug, expert on henna; and Warren Beatty, tough, sleek stray.
For Fluff and Flo, drunk at noon, and the Am Vets lady reading her Vogue, the cholos on the corner where the 57 bus comes by, for their gratifying, cool appraisal and courtly manner when I pass.
Let the seat be comfortable but let the chair be hideous and stand against the correct, hygienic, completely proper subdued in taxidermied elegance.
Let me have in any future some hideous thing to love, here Boston, MA, 8 Farrington Ave.


by Erin Belieu | |

Legend of the Albino Farm

 Omaha, Nebraska They do not sleep nights
but stand between

rows of glowing corn and
cabbages grown on acres past

the edge of the city.
Surrendered flags, their nightgowns furl and unfurl around their legs.
Only women could be this white.
Like mules, they are sterile and it appears that their mouths are always open.
Because they are thin as weeds, the albinos look hungry.
If you drive out to the farm, tree branches will point the way.
No map will show where, no phone is listed.
It will seem that the moon, plump above their shoulders, is constant, orange as harvest all year long.
We say, when a mother gives birth to an albino girl, she feigns sleep after labor while an Asian man steals in, spirits the pale baby away.


by Erin Belieu | |

Georgic on Memory

 Make your daily monument the Ego,
use a masochist's epistemology
of shame and dog-eared certainty
that others less exacting might forgo.
If memory's an elephant, then feed the animal.
Resist revision: the stand of feral raspberry, contraband fruit the crows stole, ferrying seed for miles .
.
.
No.
It was a broken hedge, not beautiful, sunlight tacking its leafy gut in loose sutures.
Lacking imagination, you'll take the pledge to remember - not the sexy, new idea of history, each moment swamped in legend, liable to judgment and erosion; still, an appealing view, to draft our lives, a series of vignettes where endings could be substituted - your father, unconvoluted by desire, not grown bonsai in regret, the bedroom of blue flowers left intact.
The room was nearly dark, the streetlight a sentinel at the white curtain, its night face implicated.
Do not retract this.
Something did happen.
You recall, can feel a stumbling over wet ground, the cave the needled branches made around your body, the creature you couldn't console.


by Erin Belieu | |

For Catherine: Juana Infanta of Navarre

 Ferdinand was systematic when
he drove his daughter mad.
With a Casanova's careful art, he moved slowly, stole only one child at a time through tunnels specially dug behind the walls of her royal chamber, then paid the Duenna well to remember nothing but his appreciation.
Imagine how quietly the servants must have worked, loosening the dirt, the muffled ring of pick-ends against the castle stone.
The Duenna, one eye gauging the drugged girl's sleep, each night handing over another light parcel, another small body vanished through the mouth of a hole.
Once you were a daughter, too, then a wife and now the mother of a baby with a Spanish name.
Paloma, you call her, little dove; she sleeps in a room beyond you.
Your husband, too, works late, drinks too much at night, comes home lit, wanting sex and dinner.
You feign sleep, shrunk in the corner of the queen-sized bed.
You've confessed, you can't feel things when they touch you; take Prozac for depression, Ativan for the buzz.
Drunk, you call your father who doesn't want to claim a ha!fsand-niggergrandkid.
He says he never loved your mother.
No one remembers Juana; almost everything's forgotten in time, and if I tell her story, it's only when guessing what she loved, what she dreamed about, the lost details of a life that barely survives history.
God and Latin, I suppose, what she loved.
And dreams of mice pouring out from a hole.
The Duenna, in spite of her black, widow's veil, leaning to kiss her, saying Juana, don't listen.
.
.


by Erin Belieu | |

Rondeau at the Train Stop

 It bothers me: the genital smell of the bay
drifting toward me on the T stop, the train
circling the city like a dingy, year-round
Christmas display.
The Puritans were right! Sin is everywhere in Massachusetts, hell-bound in the population.
it bothers me because it's summer now and sticky - no rain to cool things down; heat like a wound that will not close.
Too hot, these shameful percolations of the body that bloom between strangers on a train.
It bothers me now that I'm alone and singles foam around the city, bothered by the lather, the rings of sweat.
Know this bay's a watery animal, hind-end perpetually raised: a wanting posture, pain so apparent, wanting so much that it bothers me.


by Erin Belieu | |

All Distance

 Writing from Boston, where sky is simply
property, a flourish topping crowds
of condos and historic real estate,
I'm trying to imagine blue sky:
the first time, where it happened,
what I was becoming.
Being taken there by car, from a town so newly born that grass still accounted all distance, an explanation drawn in measureless yellows, a tone stubbling the whole world, ten minutes away.
Consider now how the single pussy willow edging a cattle pond in winter becomes a wind-shivered monument to what this mean a placid loneliness asking nothing, nothing?.
.
.
Not knowing then the proper name for things green chubs of milo, the husbandry of soy, bovine patience, the rhythm of the cud, sea green foam washing round a cow's mouth, its tender udders, the surprise of an animal's dignity.
.
.
but something comes before Before car or cow, before sky becomes.
.
.
That sky, I mean, disregarded as buried memory .
.
.
Yes.
There was a time before.
Remember when the tiny sightless hand could not know, not say hand, but knew it in its straying, knew it in the cool condensation steaming the station wagon windows, thrums of heat blowing a brand of idiot's safety over the brightly-wrapped package that was then your body, well-loved? This must have been you, looking out at that world of flat, buttered fields and blackbirds ascending.
.
.
' But what was sky then? Today, I receive a postcard of a blue guitar.
Here, snow falls with wings, tumbling in its feathered body, melting on the window glass.
How each evening becomes another beautiful woman holding the color of expensive sapphires against her throat, I'll never know.
It is an ordinary clarity.
So then was it music? Something like love or words, a sentimental moment once years ago, that blue sky? How soon the sky and I have grown apart.
On the postcard, an old man hangs half-dead, strung over his instrument, and what I have imagined is half-dead, too.
Our bones end hollow, sky blue; the flute comes untuned.


by Erin Belieu | |

Against Writing about Children

 When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can't say I'm completely shocked,

having been one.
I was not exceptional, uncomfortable as that is to admit, and most children are not exceptional.
The particulars of cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large, memory gnawing it like a fat dog, are ordinary: Mean Miss Smigelsky from the sixth grade; the orthodontist who slapped you for crying out.
Children frighten us, other people's and our own.
They reflect the virused figures in which failure began.
We feel accosted by their vulnerable natures.
Each child turns into a problematic ocean, a mirrored body growing denser and more difficult to navigate until sunlight merely bounces off the surface.
They become impossible to sound.
Like us, but even weaker.