Young Italian Girl Resting on Her Elbow- Paul Cezanne


by Marck L. Beggs


The scar model has opted
To give him another try.
Even before my fifth nose,
I swelled with silicone

Upon my father's advice. The half-
Moon under her chin splits the scar
Of a bleeding tongue, crows feet walk out
From her eyes, her clitoris going

Into labor, my forehead beating
The plank of her abdomen. The beauty
Of the potato-head, genuflected pain
Somewhere or anywhere, is self-willed

As the horse's torso that crushed her face.

The first time I watched her slice open an Irish wolfhound, to remove a green argyle sock from the intestines, she articulated the beauty of the red and grey tubes. A technician fainted. The dog lived to swallow other socks.

One night, lifting myself from her dead brother's sleeping bag, I drew her toe into my mouth and suckled. Glub, glub, I cooed. At the risk of sounding joyful, I whispered nothing. The risk in joy, she moaned, was loss. I found more of her in my mouth.

When her dog fell off the Continental Divide and had to finally be rescued by the Nederland Volunteer Fire Department, while the Forest Service rep took pictures, she kept pushing him to the edge of pain, of utter collapse, to make sure he was hurt. She had nearly flattened me, carelessly shoving a boulder that lurched eastward at the last second.

Against any better judgment, no one
Died this morning at my hands. The same
Massaging the ridge of another's nose.

I slept through that last war:
Something about bare-armed American
Women elbow-deep in buckets of oil.

The current events of my life
Expect too much. I should be playing
Ben-wah soccer under her foreskin.

I would rather be hosing down funbags
Instead of proofing the Great American Advertisement:
We'll Buy You And All Your Mulish

Degrees For Cheap. For The Price
Of An Apostrophe. And I would still kill
For the sake of punctuation, for the completion

Of the clause. I am so worried, I might fall asleep.
The current event of the world begs a pretense
Of stabilization, as if peace, love and understanding,

Like primordial soup, could explain everything.
But who can discern two muscles slapping
Within a single throat, angling for any one

Of a jillion grunts? Who can pronounce
Agreement between the lovers?
Who cares leaps faithfully into the blind attic.

The way they taught my father to speak: a major sat up front with a can of rocks, shook it to accentuate every "er," "ah." I pause in front of classes, so often speechless, that a song bursts in my head: I've got a bowl full of noses at my door... She has a face the Lilliputian ski team could train on.

In this picture, my dog leaps wildly over a fence, the wind blowing his lips back into a smile, as if to say: I was stupefied, and my hair stood on end, and my voice stuck to my throat. But his word is his action, running oratory over the dung fields.

A family cries in her clinic.
A dog, kicked blind by children,
Will be euthanized. I will pet

Him to death and be remembered
For my kindness. I will say little
So they may hear as they wish.

A child accuses the father.
The dog lies low. The father
Asks if its death will take long.

A child with blood on his shins
Comforts a dying dog, a pet
Already in memory, already cared for.

When I draw my tongue from the tip of her anus to her belly button, I learn a familiar topographical lesson again: to be. Not a mocking bird, a mere Shakespeare, but a bee. Among the busy elements of a life living itself out. The heavy boots on Tobacco Road.

From down the alley, dozens of cheerleaders rattle words against the window, I can't quite make out: Self-loathing! At all costs, self-loathing! I'm not in such a bad mood. The neighbors have left, I don't own a cannon. And when the stars fall en masse, I reckon my soul an obedient place, filled with wordless slaves pouring buckets into the well, a fire distending each stomach. Perhaps the cheerleaders suffer, girls kicking high their legs, mouths snapping like traps. They would see the sky but for their own enthusiastic toes. They break morning like songbirds escaping the pull of wings. In what heaven wouldn't a train of teenage girls answer the breeze in unison: Cords of Wood! Chop-chop-chop! That's how they do it in Aurora! For an hour now, I've been waiting for the sun to set, so I can stand outside without my sunglasses and glare into my reflection in a window: a flattened penny any boy would admire and give to his true love.

How did that song go?...
I'm going to stop wasting my time.
Somebody else would have broken both of her arms.

The Terpsichorean wind tonight, the grace
of departure tending our lives, the steamy
dance into your heart-how my tongue, effervescent
and smelling of Woolworth's, hushes. A fountain
of Christmas lights floods the city, I gush to kiss
you back against a wall, to, genuflecting, transcend

my mouth with you. I want hunger. When we transcend
the green-gold value of lust, I want grace.
Anyway, the warm-colored sky, effervescent
and brimming with snow, continues to steam
over our view. This airplane beelining like a kiss
to beyondness, snow resolving to splinter like a fountain.

A man sitting next to me warms up, fountaining
sweat and opinions. A suit transcends
all boundaries. Fashion sodomy: polyester kissing
rayon, prints buggering plaids. Where in grace
can my eyes refuse this slaughter? Commitment effervescent
to the point of being committed. I love the steam

ruining your hair, the formless ambition of steam.

Marck L. Beggs earned his Ph.D. from the University of Denver and his M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College. He currently lives on a tree farm near Little Rock, Arkansas, and teaches writing and literature at Henderson State University. His first collection of poems, Godworm, is available from the Mellen Poetry Press. His poems have won numerous awards, including a 1997 Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council, and have been published in journals such as the Arkansas Review, Denver Quarterly, Greensboro Review, Hawai'i Review, Laurel Review, Missouri Review, NEBO, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pavement Saw, Recursive Angel, Voices International, and Willow Springs. He also serves as the assistant poetry editor for Crazyhorse.

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