Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sestina: Because why the heck not?

Daughter

We were standing in the kitchen, sisters, mother, I, adding salt
To the rising dough, women settled into their lots,
Cleaning the house, preparing food for the men
Our bodies were ready to open for, their bodies, sex-
Driven, waiting to consume us, as hail
Breaks down the barely stalks, as fire

Consumes the under-bracken, the bright fire
That generates rich, clean salt-
Bearing ash that we strew like hail
On the small patch of ground this sex-
Strewn city left us for a garden. The men,

The bright visitors that call themselves men
But are angels, made of fire,
Wearing the flesh-masks of the male sex,
Came into our house smelling of salt,
Clean, flavourful, adding beauty to our lot
In this ugly city. They warned us of hail,

Hard and over-abundant, enough clear hail
To batter out the lives of the men
Who turned this city into a lot
Filled with filth, and this hail would be fire,
The purifying kind that dries sin to salt.
The city-leaders came to our door, scenting sex,

Wanting the white bodies of the visitors for sex,
And our father would not bide them enter, though they hailed
On the door and tried to bribe him with bags of pure salt.
He offered us instead, our bodies, to the men
Who laughed at us, our flesh less valuable to them that the fire-
Skins of the strange, angelic men. Our father, Lot,

Was supposed to be the only good man, but Lot
Still offered us, his daughters, to those rapists for sex,
As though we were nothing but wood for his fire.
I never forgave him, even after the hail
Rained down on us and burnt those men,
Who did deserve it. I looked over at my mother, tasting salt.

When those bright-men came and the hail-like-fire rained down,
Our father, Lot, offered his daughters up for sex. I shut my heart
To him forever, barred him and his angels out, and salted its earth.

An oldie I found, which I am revising

Aphrodisiac

We are servants of the bloody goddess;
one who emerged, drawn by hippocampus,
from the white froth, salt-scented
that edged the stinging sea.

We serve the goddess who was a gift,
dual edged; who rode in, balanced
on a skeletal clam, hovering on the
soft foam detritus of rotted fish

the last protein remnants
of drowned men. In Chaucer
she is standing, spine straight
on a bower of corpses who came

willingly, with their eyes open,
knowing what she was, underneath
all that soft, white flesh. They could smell
the dead-fish stench,

her perfume, wafting up from between
well-turned legs; see the flakes
of bone lodged in her waving hair,
and that smile, downturned,

so innocent, that hints at malice.
They ignored, as we do, all those
warning signs, the intuitions, megrims.
Is it any wonder that the symptoms

are the same? Our hearts, sped up
to bursting, rapid breathing,
sweaty palms, all of those embarrassing
fluids, and still, we call out for it,

ignoring the consequences,
ignoring the bones, our hands
outstretched and grasping,
hungry for a climax.

Endorsements and other general praise:

Behold! The lovely endorsements for A Radiance! From a cluster of LOVELY poets!

Bethany Pope’s compelling debut collection, A Radiance, weaves the voices of four generations into a rich story of family betrayal and survival, shame and grace, the visceral and the sublime. Unafraid to mine the darkest, most intimate and most radiant aspects of human experience, Pope’s poetry gives glimpses into a world both contemporary and deeply attuned to history – the embattled history of a family, but also of the American South where the author grew up. A sense of offbeat wonder at everyday miracles of survival and love both fires these poems and haunts them – in the best possible way.

-Tiffany Atkinson http://uk.poetryinternational.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=12338

The central image of Bethany Pope’s collection is a tin of army surplus uranium buried by her grandfather in the back yard. A similar weird light, dangerous and beautiful, illuminates these poems of family history, love and childhood. An exhilarating and exceptional new voice in poetry.

-Matthew Francis    http://7greenhill.webs.com/

Bethany Pope: This is a stunning debut collection. It seems as if nothing has escaped her gaze: from uranium hidden light to the ‘roots which grow from watching’. Like the blade of her ancestor’s knife, her pen, too, cuts a fine feast of welcome at the kitchen table. In a lacerated world of experience, these poems invite us to reinvent loss as a new kind of dwelling, where the infinitesimal becomes as luminous as ever. The stories shared also remind us that the past never fully disappears.

-Menna Elfyn http://www.mennaelfyn.co.uk/

Don’t forget to check out their websites! Copies of A Radiance will soon be availible for pre-order here: http://www.culturedllama.co.uk/

He ended up using it for soup…

Roadkill

A man left over from 70’s punk,
cutoff jeans and old leather jacket
With skull scraped free of pelt ,
joined me where I stood, bent

over the kit. A life suspended,
caught in amberlike time.
The puppyish fox with spattered
brains appealed to me;

its large, soft paws
and feathery tail,
the milky smell of it,
made something clench.

This infant psychopomp
lolled its loose head against
my leathered toe. I shifted its body
from tarmac to grass;

it needed that much consideration.
The old man took it further.
His fingers glittered between
the studs on his gloves,

he scooped it by the white-ended
brush. ‘I let nothing waste.’
The corpse vanished into a hidden
pocket. There is no wasted flesh.

Not on this road.

Check me out on the Rufus site!

Information about another of my books,
http://www.rufusbookspublishing.ca/authors/pope_bethany_w/index.html

I finally wrote something real about O.C.D

Rituals: Rites

I rise in the night, moving
past the open closet door
I fear running into,
a white shirt hanging
by the neck, to dry
on the knob, shadows.

The sound of breathing,
the ache of a full bladder.
I follow my killing hands
into the bathroom, sit,
allow myself to drain
from me in gasps.

I hate that there
are so many rituals,
the sacred rites of O.C.D.
To stand before the mirror
chanting phrases to a dark,
small god I will not own.

It takes so much time,
and has so little purpose;
save for illusory peace
of mind that lasts
only an instant, and fades
before the words.

I see my shade
in the shirt I sleep in,
she grins her darkness
from the glass.
This is not the God
that I would serve.

We peel away
our clothes together,
revealing white flesh,
the breasts encased
in ancient bra gone
ragged at the cups.

I feel an itch between my ribs
and hook my anxious nails
into the source of it.
My doppelganger shows
the long teeth of a dog.
The flesh comes off

like bacon, streaky,
white and red.
I can see the bones,
my honed abdominals,
powerful, glistening.
I give them up.

My shadow is hungry.
I feed her. This is the dark
half of my priesthood.
I unhook muscles
from their tendons to give
them to her need.

She swells in the mirror.
More. Intestines
unwind like sausage.
They are sausages.
Myself takes them
in her teeth.

I am revealed at last
for what I always was,
a ghost in bones,
a beating heart.
Lungs that would cry
if they had the traction.

There are sharp teeth
in the mirror.
They eat up
the night entirely.
I let them.
I give myself up.

another take on a repeating dream…

The Bowl

A forest blooming underground,
a place of trees of ancient width
whose mossy trunks span,
leaves rustling, high
into the teeth of stalactites.
It is a space that could not be.

This mazelike wood that flourishes
in caverns. My feet are bare
against the moss, soft green
sinks deep, brushing my ankles.
I keep a fast step, running,
sweat pooling in the scant valleys
between my naked ribs.

The air is cold, lit
by improbable moonlight,
a pale subterranean orb,
pregnant and bursting,
pours milk on my spine.
I plunge deeper in.

The dogs appear,
as they do always,
wolfish creatures
well trained,
though not by me,
awaiting their cue.

They grin with the clear pleasure
of all dogs, huge gray bodies press
against my thighs, shepherding
my strides. I am really speeding now;
the trunks fly by at car speed,
and each leap propels me further
than gravity would usually allow.

The dogs, the wolves, run with me,
frothing, laughing, panting hard.
The ground changes so gradually
that I hardly know it. At first,
I mistake the round limbs
for felled branches,
and not the severed arms of men.

Their butchered thighs,
like pork roasts, bone
embedded deep in flesh,
roll beneath my soles.
My dogs prop me up,
my motion continues
perpendicular, though
I stumble I do not fall.

The trees give way to clearing;
sweet air scented
with the fresh tang of meat.
A hill of hanged men
rises from the centre,
a natural extension
of that dark earth.

A woman stands, veiled,
her strong legs planted
in the ground
from which she feeds.
Her face is vague beneath
the clinging cheesecloth,
but I detect a smile.

She is holding a bowl
of ancient vintage,
rough silver carved over
in a tongue I cannot read.
The dogs, my altered wolves,
howl joyful as I climb
the rolling hill.

It is loose stacked;
hands and necks loll
on their cracked stems, nodding
at every step. My heel slips once
and I hear the vegetable crunch
of a broken nose.

Suddenly I am there,
naked before this goddess of white.
I am aware of my thirst,
and her bowl which brims
with deep red wine
of a very rare pressing.

The smile is clear now
through the loose muslin weave.
Her face is my own, perfected.
Her long hair hangs down
her neck in serpentine coils.
Our wolves, our dogs are laughing,
howling. I drink from our bowl,
and find myself whole.

I am in the paper!

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9649958.Author_s_dark_tale_is_a_shining_example/

Check this out! Too much about me and not enough about the book, but hey! You can’t have too much publicity!

Another old one, refurbished

Aphrodisiac

We are servants of the bloody goddess,
the one who emerged, drawn by hippocampus,
from the white froth, salt-scented
that edged the stinging sea.

We serve the goddess who was a gift,
dual edged, who rode in, balanced
on a skeletal clam, hovering on the
soft foam detritus of rotted fish

the last protein remnants
of drowned men. In Chaucer
she is standing, spine straight
on a bower of corpses who came

willingly, with their eyes open,
knowing what she was, underneath
all that soft, white flesh. They could smell
the dead-fish stench,

her perfume, wafting up from between
well-turned legs; see the flakes
of bone lodged in her waving hair,
and that smile, downturned,

so innocent, that hints at malice.
They ignored, as we do, all those
warning signs, the intuitions, megrims.
Is it any wonder that the symptoms

are the same? Our hearts, sped up
to bursting, rapid breathing,
sweaty palms, all of those embarrassing
fluids, and still, we call out for it,

ignoring the consequences,
ignoring the bones, our hands
outstretched and grasping,
hungry for a climax.

My new book, A Radiance, out this June!

 

My new book, A Radiance, will be released by Cultured Llama . A Radiance combines the beauty of Southern Gothic imagery with a traditional narrative form. This story is based on the lives of my grandparents. A mine-owner’s daughter is disowned for marrying a lower class farmer, an action that entails some terrible consequences. The story delivers deep class analysis combined with images of mythological power all told in standalone vignettes. If you enjoy poems of passion and mythological redemption, you will enjoy my work.

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