Weekend Poetry: Seven Poems by Robert Beveridge

Devil's Night

It's not enough

when you've reached that independent age

to throw dynamite at cars

and violate graves

 

rather

in this postmodern cyberspace

parasite American Psycho age

where only the body

(and, at times, the psyche)

are sacred

 

to make a name on Devil's Night

you have to burn Camden

or Detroit

 

and even as you watch

the neighborhood where you grew up

collapse in on its own

orange and yellow heritage

you gotta laugh back the tears

and make them think

you're happy

to be rid of the memories

* * *

they sat

and had a drink at the Café

the Madonna and the performance artist.

The waiter, a down-on-his-luck poet

offered braised tongue of Céline

for $34.50.

 

The artist's eyes flashed television,

C-SPAN, maybe, or TNT

and the Madonna

blackened in the still-aflame Camden fire of 1991

[no break]

looked out onto Knife Street

with something akin to desire.

 

The drinks tasted of blood

slight sweetness of formaldehyde

mixed in

and the Madonna

grinned her approval

 

FLASH:

the Emergency Broadcast Network

across the artist's eyes.

The police bomb LA.

* * *

Fade to riot.

 

Kiss the smoke.

 

The revolution

is televised and tabloided

in the suburbs.

Sacred bodies

and ephemeral Madonnas

sprawl in the streets

knocked clean

by concussion grenades.

 

The Weekly World News

won't run the pictures

not bloody enough

the editor says

get me some live ones

there's a riot

going on, you know.

 

Kiss the smoke.

[break]

Fade to riot.

 

Protestors

march into the desert

carry the burnt

and bloody corpses

of a thousand

sacred cows.

* * *

In the end

they convinced him

onto his cross

on Seventh Avenue

while Camden still burned.

 

Even as he feels

the hair on his legs singe

he laughs, chokes

back the tears.

* * *

Knife Street afternoon:

pleasant

for those with money.

The black Madonna sacred

cow mentor performance artist

one divided

(for we all know one

plus one equals two)

sit and sip blood-sherry

fermented in the brain

of Lyndon Baines Johnson

 

and reflect:

 

artist with eyes

Madonna with blackness.

 

[break]

* * *

No one ever really goes to jail.

No one ever really gets raped.

Do they. ¹

 

The revolution

is a myth in the suburbs.

 

Nothing exists except you,

and you're scared.

 

Snap.

Crack(le).

Pop. ²

He smelled burning meat.³

* * *

It's a game show

Crucifixion for Dollars

stay alive and we pay you

so far, nobody wins

but there's  always a first time, right?

 

The cross of pipes.

 

“Today's first contestant is a med student from a now-burned section of Camden who started hitting the pipe just six weeks ago, ladies and gentlemen—six weeks!—and already he's come this far down for money.”

 

How'd you get

to Knife Street, son?

* * *

[break]

The black Madonna

waves away a beggar

who pulls out a gun

and squeezes the trigger

 

but he left the safety on

and the artist

flashes the Home Shopping Network

at him.

The gunman freezes.

 

There's no place to hide

on Knife Street.

* * *

Fade to riot.³²

 

Kiss the smoke.

 

Snap.

Crack(le).

 

Static.

 

Smell

of burned meat.

 

Burnt out.

 

Left to rot.

 

* * *

 

It is the Fourth

of July in America.

 

It is the day

of Bush's ethnoGRAPHIC

[no break]

assassination.

 

It is the end

of all coded empiricities,

 

of all modeled flesh

remade.

 

It is the day

this dream,

this text,

begins again

 

and again

 

and

again


and...

 

¹ Rollins, “Knife Street”. Bang!, p. 15. Los Angeles: 2.13.61, 1990

² Stephen Pfohl, Death at the Parasite Cafe, p. 6. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002

³ William Gibson, Neuromancer, p. 117. New York: Ace, 1984.

⁴ Rollins, 31.

⁵ Pfohl, 289.

 

 

 

The Four Humours

I: Sanguinella

Sounds like a disease

to me you said

as you traced your razor

lightly across my spine

But it's beautiful

when it comes out

 

II: Bile I (black)

I raise your hand

smeared with my blood

to my lips, kiss it

 

III: Bile II (yellow)

let him bleed wafted

across the bar

good for the character

then laughter

and the slump

of a body

on its way

to oblivion

 

IV: Phlegm

The fallen man's death rattle

goes unheard

by the festive crowd.

Inside his head

one last breath screams

 

Holy Mug

It is always the black ballpoints

that disappear first. Mountains

form in extra dimensions, capable

of millions of words. The razor

points go next into sunless seas

of rainbow colors.

On the farthest shores

a graveyard, decayed,

of quills; a fountain in the center

that flows ignorant

of time or place.

 

Inside/Beyond

There is nothing but the aquarium

soaked spire at its center, condensation

in drips down the walls. The current

has redistributed the gravel

into contours, gentle hills punctuated

by dales. Algae between pebbles

and that everpresent plastic diver

who journeys across this ever-mutable

 

The Second Law

“In a natural thermodynamic process, there is an increase in the sum of the entropies in the participating systems.”--The Second Law of Thermodynamics

 

Your body beneath me

for an instant insubstantial

where my arms were around you

I grasp my own chest

thrust into the sheets

fall to the bed

 

then you reform around me

and we are truly one

 

our lips and fingers

touch forever now

landscape but never, ever reaches

whatever destination he started for.

Valerie Fox, 22April92, Khyber Pass

 

You couldn't keep

a slight chill from your voice

even on a night too warm

to be April

 

not that you stumbled

over sex

nor death of course

(no one does these days)

but starshine...

 

the room wrapped

in gauze, slightly used

as if the end

of a long infection

had emptied itself

into the writers' wounds

 

and burst forth poetry

shocks of cotton

with faint yellow lines

you read like I-Ching sticks

 

and those sticks

were the sock you weren't wearing

or the cat,

its claws that now grind

the dirt about its wasted

body to dust

 

or sex with seraphim

the gods of life

the muses themselves

 

Valerie Fox, 22April92, Khyber Pass

You couldn't keep

a slight chill from your voice

even on a night too warm

to be April

 

not that you stumbled

over sex

nor death of course

(no one does these days)

but starshine...

 

the room wrapped

in gauze, slightly used

as if the end

of a long infection

had emptied itself

into the writers' wounds

 

and burst forth poetry

shocks of cotton

with faint yellow lines

you read like I-Ching sticks

 

and those sticks

were the sock you weren't wearing

or the cat,

its claws that now grind

the dirt about its wasted

body to dust

 

or sex with seraphim

the gods of life

the muses themselves

WHAT THE FEVER TOLD ME

Saint John, collapsed

on the Philadelphia streetcorner

outside Jim's Steaks, looks up

and sprinkles me

with the last drops

from his flask of holy water

Robert Beveridge makes noise and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, Ohio. Recent/upcoming appearances in Wildflower Muse, Noble/Gas Qtrly, and The Ibis Head Review, among others.

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