Poem of the Week: Calliope 1995 Throwback

Once upon a time Calliope rated its the top three poems. These are them.

Solomon, Where are You?
by Judy Hewett

Surrogate they call me
True and not true too

No gasp clasped you to the lining of my womb, child
No hot flux of fluids
Rocked you to your nine month cradle
But the body writes its own script

The phallus sent you rocketing into inner space
Was not red and throbbing and fire-tailed
A pristine shaft of crystal
Bore you solemnly in place of me
While my body’s rhythms spun delirious lyrics
My mind would not hear

My hand blithely signed in June
Contracts for a March delivery
of the unreal speck of you
Into other hands
But the body was penciling in its own agenda
On that calendar

We four at meals
Two half-parents and their willing consorts
Mouths open, hearts blind
Conspired ignorantly
To transfer DNA and dollars
On the due date
The commodities
One expendable egg and one of a trillion sperm
Easily dispensed
from illimitable bank accounts
These futures sirening to boost both our stocks
We parted smugly
But the body. chuckling, began its own production company

Until on simple cell
Silently succored by the body
Detonated in the delivery room
A fusion bomb set off dazzlingly
By the body
The explosion from within
Shaking sentence
Banging my brain to attention
tearing down the passageways of perception
Flying from my body to my breast
Finally to rest
Oh, yes, child,
The body owns all knowledge


Rapunzel is Bald
By Dana Beardsley-Mull

The Tower
skyscraper height, big window,
head bouncing up and down
like a bobber on a restless sea.
Rapunzel is bald
screams, “stop the cellulite”
as she sweats to step aerobics.
Not smooth bald
prickly stubble pokes her at night
as she tries to make
marriage seem ok for others
her ex-husband lives in the
next building, watches his wife
up and down, no way out
of the TV screen.

The Forest
once clamoring with life
and small men
is dead.
Snow White is beige brown
pelted by acid rain and skin cancer.
Too much ozone depletion
She is alone, no one wants
her heart
no one cares
about her narcoleptic tendencies
should have used sunblock
should have slept inside.
The forest is a dangerous
place for young girls.

The Fires
spread like hot mustard
everything charcoal, now ash white glowing.
Cinderella is a closet arsonist
with blackened fingertips
that she tries to peel off,
prints shouldn’t be a problem.
She has a baby out of wedlock
and her feet spread
it’s impossible to find shoes.
She shares a condo
with her lover, Sleeping Beauty,
who uses her room
to run a small methamphetamine lab.
She has a purpleblack burn
covering one cheek
from a chemical explosion.
Since beauty works at home
she watches the baby when Cinderella does a job.
The relationship meets the needs of both.
Cinderella does all the sewing.

Prince Charming is in a 12-step program
his beer belly still ballooning,
a belligerent drunk.
He’s been divorced three times
his therapist says he has
a problem with commitment.
He, like Rapunzel, has lost
most of his hair
though he slicks the strands
in a noble combover attempt.
He no longer rides, or dances,
or fights, or climbs,
but watches Magnum PI reruns
and ESPN from his
brown velour easy chair and ottoman.
He has become quite rude
especially to solicitors;
he hates to get up,
but will, when the pizza is delivered.

They Say the fairytale is fractured
the bone jutting out of skin.
dysfunctional families, dead fairies in black,
broken glass, evil aging.
The dwarfs are scoring a buck as
clowns for Barnum and Bailey
beating each other over the head
with oversize brown dress shoes.


by Stu VanAirsdale

Imagine I could see my own funeral:
the coffin, or the urn,
I don’t know stacked up on
pretty ribbon risers.
In the church of ALL
fucking places my family is
my grandparents setting me
to rest at last, a single
pathetic crystalline drop of
their angry tears, their
veined and spotted fingers stroking
the liners and corners and textures,
the dry wood of each dark pew,
and the crimson cheeks all puffy
and bloated…
my friends seeing me out, knowing
what I had promised, half-sick,
regretful that they couldn’t stop it on and on,
all those times they shrugged me off and
swung their eyes in dizzy circles
and they wish not but never knew
of course how serious…
my parents burying their only child,
clad in the cruelest black and groomed
to precision, my mother in pieces so bitter
and spiteful and spiked with dread;
she shivers and shakes and twists
her tissue tirelessly, knuckles white
and sweaty below her starchy dark cuffs,
her eyes fiery red like hell raining on me,
a million salty demons bleeding sorrow
and pity, her lips parted bidding farewell,
and my father and his tie,
and work and toil and swear
and life’s blood lying lifeless in a box,
oblivious and inhuman, and he cries there
before me like he never has,
like I never understood he would have,
his own eyes their own painful dominion,
all vigor and faith absent from his body
and soul, his heart and mind, heaven
and earth, and everything collapsed in sick,
disfigured piles around him,
an he says good-bye,
and I wish
I were dead.




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