The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Amy Beeder

After the Last Return--

 

tax, that is—relinquished with official certificates
citing the cause of death as chronic sentimentality,
I carried out his final demands, burning dance cards
& selling the gold claim cheap to an old poker rival.
But since I so far lack resolve to jettison love letters
penned from the Holocene or Dismal's fringe, deeds
to the cantaloupe fields, bills past due for my birth
cached with those for cremation; I appeal to you,
my dissolute kin who came to the funeral & left
before dawn the next day. Spring rain was promised us
but we know this house will vanish thus in dust & soon—
so what to do with heirloom spoons & milagritos,
monograms on mildewed linen, all the unsent checks?

 

 

Amy Beeder

And So Wax Was Made & Also Honey Out of the Tears of Re

 

When the wars are over & the checkpoints abandoned

When the cities wake as home to exotic birds who broadcast
            our coming & fertilize the cracks in asphalt, we will stride

up the mountain like goatherds & make books from leaves
            of what trees spill most ambitious over the burned land.

When the quarantines are lifted we'll play Marco Polo

in the empty wards, by lamplight study ancient methods
            of beekeeping: mud hive & yeast cake, the tendering

of tiny crowns & tiny homes of sedge. Practice the willing

exchange of smoke for song, box for circle, meat for bread
            & bread for radish—yes,

we will forgive even the generals, even the parliament
            of headless palms. When the wars are over

we'll offer oranges to tanagers & slick black seed to jays;
            when the curfews expire & all the debts default, though

there will always be dark rumors & dormant munitions

on no account may we cease waiting for the queen
            to emerge, so as long as there is something to barter

for this honey, for this wax that burns & leaves no ash.

 

 

Amy Beeder

From A Practical Guide to Hand Analysis
[last seen] if the islands of mystery are found between the lines of destiny

 


& life, I'm pretty sure we'll never know your fate
even if we do find some clue or explicable cause
in your overcoat pocket: a stag tooth or five Belgian francs,
a totem, a ticket with venue erased. Better,
a Kodachrome slide of the Rogue Borealis. Or better,
a feather. The manor you lorded is charging admission;
they've erected a stone! How like you to vanish
last seen in a headline beekeeping, or boarding a Cessna
apace with your bronze-age valet. Meanwhile
the rest of us pause here. Abandoned, we gamble,
quarrel abjectly & drink. Still, you could be in Rome.
If you're not inhabiting piazza pigeons please write.
If you're stuck in a crevice in Malapais, whistle—

 

 

 

AMY BEEDER is the author of Burn the Field and Now Make An Altar  (Carnegie Mellon University Press).  A recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship and  a "Discovery"/The Nation Award, she has worked as a creative writer instructor, freelance reporter, political asylum specialist, high-school teacher in West Africa, and an election and human rights observer in Haiti and Suriname.

 

 

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