* Chicks Dig Poetry *
Sandra Beasley is a Washington, D.C. based poet and author. She has two volumes of poetry: I Was the Jukebox, (winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize) and Theories of Falling, as well as the memoir Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life. Her prose has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Psychology Today among other publications.
Little bastards of vine. Little demons by the pint. Red eggs that never hatch, just collapse and rot. When my mom told me to gather their grubby bodies into my skirt, I’d cry. You and your father, she’d chide— the way, each time I kicked and wailed against sailing, my dad shook his head, said You and your mother. Now, a city girl, I ease one loose from its siblings, from its clear plastic coffin, place it on my tongue. Just to try. The smooth surface resists, resists, and erupts in my mouth: seeds, juice, acid, blood of a perfect household. The way, when I finally went sailing, my stomach was rocked from inside out. Little boat, big sea. Handful of skinned sunsets.
from: Theories of Falling. Copyright 2008.
For six months I dealt Baccarat in a casino. For six months I played Brahms in a mall. For six months I arranged museum dioramas; my hands were too small for the Paleolithic and when they reassigned me to lichens, I quit. I type ninety-one words per minute, all of them Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal. I speak Russian, Latin, a smattering of Tlingit. I can balance seven dinner plates on my arm. All I want to do is sit on a veranda while a hard rain falls around me. I’ll file your 1099s. I’ll make love to strangers of your choice. I’ll do whatever you want, as long as I can do it on that veranda. If it calls you, it’s your calling, right? Once I asked a broker what he loved about his job, and he said Making a killing. Once I asked a serial killer what made him get up in the morning, and he said The people.
from: I Was the Jukebox: Poems. Copyright 2010.
Flour Is Firm
The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, line 4234
Baking two parts flour to one part water
could stop a bullet. So good soldiers
carried their hardtack over their hearts.
Break it down with a rifle butt, flood it,
fry it in pig fat to make hellfire stew.
Gnaw it raw and praise the juice.
Does wheat prepare for this as it grows,
seeking the light in a half-thawed field?
Do stalks know their strength is merely
in their number? What is ground down
we name flour in promise that it will be
made useful. Otherwise, it’s just dust.
Sheet iron crackers.
Would you call it starving, if a man dies
with hardtack still tucked in his pocket?
Can you call it food, if the bullet comes only
at the moment he gives in and swallows?
Source: Poetry (July/August 2013).