If you wear a suit of bees
Through the Yale Art Gallery,
They will think you are misplaced art –
And exhibit you somewhere:
Artist unknown – you and your suit of bees will be.
You will buzz with acclaim,
The likes of (N.) will adore you,
You and your art: one substance –
Envy of Carrevagio, jealousy of Picasso.
Oh, avant-garde! Oh, expressionist absolutism!
Oh, you and your suit of bees
And a career flowing with milk and honey.
But somewhere after midnight
As you remain still on your pedestal,
You will hunger for beer and pizza,
Itch to see old episodes of Dr. Who,
Be desperate for her breasts and eyes
Turning toward you.
MARK FITZPATRICK is basically a poet although he has had fiction, non-fiction, and drama published. Among his credits are Parting Gifts, Oasis, The MacGuffin, Whiskey Island Review, The Small Pond Magazine of Literature, Oxford Review, Dramatic Shorts, Amarillo Bay and many others. His novel-in-verse was a finalist in the Tassy Walden Creative Writing for Young People contest. Two of his plays are in. He works as an ESL teacher with ELS schools at the University of New Haven. He worked as an ESL teacher in Brazil, Honduras, Haiti, and the Republic of Somaliland. Before he was a child care worker for over 20 years in a low-income, African-American neighborhood of Chicago.
I was in the yard working
when I heard, through the
open kitchen window,
my wife tap a spoon shank
on the edge of a cooking pot.
Of course, it was my mother I heard,
as if transported to years ago,
me a boy, playing in the yard, dusk falling,
my father clipping hedges,
my hunger just starting to gnaw.
Then one of my boys ran past crying,
“Mom? Is it dinner yet?”
and I, brought back to the present,
hedge clippers open wide,
knew that that boy—
not a duplicate of me
or owned by anybody—
was, nevertheless, in a living line
of felt continuity,
I lean my elbows,
an uneven café table
chinking, sliding saucer
tinkling ice cubes in a glass that
clinks a sugar dispenser—and I’m
my sketchy, troubled, already-
vanished reverie of elsewhere,
my raised elbows
resettling—and resettling me to—
flatware, glass, saucer.
Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com
Reversal of Fortune
That . . .
Today, I write:
no brain lock or writer’s block,
never idle or addled, plot upon plot.
Practical prompts, writing schedules,
I aspire − become renowned
as scribe of insightful stanzas,
toward tour de force status,
something deemed a Classic.
Endowing with endearing words
as adulating aficionados gnaw painted nails,
climaxing with thumbs-up . . .
a dedicated shelf in bookstores –
glitzy chain and Indy alike –
masterwork, magnum opus!
This . . .
Today, I fret:
soured lines glares back,
needing reweaving into resonance.
Fictions and goading prose whacked
into petite victories, hard to celebrate.
Suppress a passive verb.
Second coat of adjectives.
Laminate lame line with adverb.
Pious patinas . . . hocus-pocus. . . .
I declare to the image, make homage
to the muse, regret oft-committed sin.
Lesser pleasures depress ears,
joys chopped, smeared over tongue.
Eyes directed to shadowy things,
I re-pledge to slivers and scattered
scruples backsliding across my page.
On the Shelf
A single space gapes between
books on the shelf. Most fill
allotted slot unread, collected during
semesters, or cluttered years.
At attention behind framed photos
and dusty memorabilia, well-worn
volumes denote evidence of worthy
pursuits: immediate joys weighing
against passed lulls, token props
and notions. I shall vow to search
for another book to bridge the nagging
breach in my archive. Pillage boxes,
stacked and stored; or revive a weighty
transcript – not just a joyful passage –
one revered cover to cover. Drab
shrouds stare back, awaiting re-sorting.
Perhaps I could disguise the gap, dust off
a snapshot of a past-lover’s bleary smile,
on a blurry day: her unanimated eyes, our
overcast desire never dowsed, since hidden
spellbound in a drawer. Even a colorful vase
might stand in: yet bouquets become a nuisance
. . . the watering and required trims. . . .
Each shelf evokes slivers of the man I sought,
every boring binding a craving: pages
of extinct minutes, passed-on un-mended,
too easily supplanted with prattle. The gap
reminds me of my delinquent spaces
I must fill before true midnight turns,
reread awkward chapters only skimmed.
Revisit bookmarks, and retranslate
word by word to reckon a foreseen self.
Poems have appeared Poetry South, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, Potato Eyes, Georgia Journal, Main Street Rag, Iodine, and Pembroke Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals Vox Poetica, Pyrokinection, and The Blue Hour. His fiction has been recognized by the Norfolk Society for the Arts and published in Atlantis. His Second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (Press 53), was published in April of 2016, and a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He was awarded an “Emerging Artist’s Grant” from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); has been a featured poet on the North Carolina Public Radio Station WFDD; received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem “The Blood Watch”; and is a Pushcart nominee. Sam lives in Winston-Salem with his wife and has two children, and retired from his day-job of 32 years with the Winston-Salem Recreation Department. He is the 2017 President of the NC Poetry Society, and Past-President of Winston-Salem Writers.