Dreamers' Songs: Nancy Bevilaqua's Poems

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Month: April, 2014

The Game He Called “Glide Against the Sky”

Dreamers' Songs: Nancy Bevilaqua's Poems

The Game He Called “Glide Against the Sky”
(from Gospel)

Lust at the edge of nothing. Steps along
the parapet: no future tense, stillness
oceanic. Gravity in black fields
of granite spheres and starry core itself
sucked upward at your skull, your singing

blood, your own core, your fear. Renegade
between your knees to whom you’d whispered,
Esa, I will learn discomfort for you,
borrow from your restless dream, alongside,
guiding, pleased. You found your nature gone

to sea, convalescing memories toys
dropped from dirty fingers. You’d never had
a moment’s faith. No matter. Look up, he said.
Scan the universe for simple signs. There is nothing
to believe, but flowers in their need trust sky.

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Memory

(This is part of a chapbook entitled Gospel, which will be published within the year.)

 

MEMORY

He said, I lay

in city silences too: city

of antiquated dreams.

To the blind world

they answered. Just a memory

of the kind of world you live in,

somewhere under that sky.

Holding Breath

(From Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days)

HOLDING BREATH

April dusk drained, while I was out,

into your mouth, the black

collapsing cave, your glottis ticking off

 

last swallows of the day. You watched tides

receding, patterns on the rug

recounting dreams, frail fingers

 

fingering cold fences

that held you in your bed.

Coming in with sheets

 

and pillows from Delancey, I smelled your skin

beleaguered., tasting itself, falling

away, the smell of fruit

 

rotting in a bowl, unnaturally sweet.

The nurse dismissed, I prematurely lit the room

with candles against night.

 

Then night began, a shadow

lapping in the shallow moments. Rats

and pigeons rustled, pestilent,

 

trapped in walls; open windows lifted tongues,

sending quiet cadenced prayers

to infiltrate God’s monotone. Your eyes,

 

slow fish, slid in wide ellipses

while I prepared us for the caterpillar ride

to dawn. By nine I lay

 

against your back between the rails, your muteness

sharp against murmurs from the street,

against the muffled rush of breeze

 

through pale fingers of new leaves. Hooded figures

flickered and bowed

in gestures of atonement on the walls.

 

There was nothing to do

but wait. I lay you down. Sometime that night

your whisper broke

 

an interval of sleep. I need,

you said. I waited while

you shook it from inside your head.

 

I need someone

to hold my breath for me. That night

I never slept again,

 

imagining you driving on some prairie road,

your arm dancing in the wind outside the window

with the rhythm of a country song.

 

I warmed your back curved hard

against sleep, passing the hours preparing

for the time that we had left.

 

–Nancy Bevilaqua

 

Night and Morning Voice (Music)–Audio

Night and Morning Voice (Music)

Night and Morning Voice (Music)

I am music
outside your time
the time outside
not even eternal.

Just me,
and the petals now.

 

(For audio version please see next post.)

Morning Voice (Owls)

Morning Voice (Owls)

 

Nature’s rites wasting aground.

You grow while owls cry

like runaway foxes.

 

(For audio version, please see previous post.)

Morning Voice (Owls)–(Audio version)

Taliyth Zimuwthiy*

Taliyth Zimuwthiy*

Belligerent and rich, belittled

little fool. Bird’s heart full

of crazy listening: crush of lies,

sacrifice, lambs bled,

fallen doves. Devil surging

for a jest, spilling niceties

inside her head, dogging her,

dogging, room to room at dawn: Fire

on their hill will give you

rest, absolve the air

of sacred stench. Turn your hand to it.

Let their olives spit in sand;

boil their bitter oranges.

******

Creaking in wrecked shoes

that bring you from the lower street,

slapping time against your chest to beat it

back, passer-by, newly wed with wine

still on your breath you startle

with your father at her shriek.

 

Shorn, surrendered,

kneeling in her silk on aged creases

of the earth, stoking stares

from all their sodden eyes she sings:

Be quick, be quick. It doesn’t hurt me,

doesn’t hurt. I will never cross this plain

again, and swallow all its dirt.

 

Everyone is dreaming

now, copse wavering in heat. A force:

you find yourself beholden, suddenly

complete. Kneeling too you write in sand:

New lesson—learn love, blind men. Subsiding

dream. They part. She rises, walks to you, and you

will not be alone again.

 

(*Roughly, “Release the girl” in Aramaic.)

(To hear the audio version, please see previous post.)

Taliyth Zimuwthiy (Audio)

Man at a Window (text)

Man at a Window

…from here

let’s get these bastard

bottles cleared like

that a cigarette a match

playground’s full of brats already

candied voices carry up

through leaves through heat but such

is hell the season doesn’t change I spent

the night between the window

and the shade saw the sky fill up

and fade the sunrise

steaming from the dust of dawn…

…a splendid song rasps

from the kitchen all night

radio drifted from station

to station food that never got to where

it might have done some good

dries on plates ashtrays overfull

bottles rolling on the floor the motel

on the Merritt can’t compare last time

she found me this way there not quite

in fact like this not so sober not

so cool not the sense of purpose I have

now she came because I called can’t

fault her there won’t call again

I saw her wish

she saw my body shrivel down in lime before

I took another breath another hit

a splendid song Lester Young

or someone

goes on too long sax

makes passing reference to piano

piano staggers sadly underneath I know

this one used to know it

let’s lean out and have a better look…

…toward Harlem there’s a haze the greens

and reds of stoplights snake along the park

a cake of ether clouds a false door

through which snows come raging

pigeons panning paradise

limitless…

…a holiday out there and this

is how I honor it spraying my demands in quiet

reeking breaths into a maze of brick

no one’s called in weeks God damn

the windshield flashes from the street

eyes of cattle turn to me I never thought

I’d be a man who

never thought

I’ve never seen a silence stronger than that sky.

(Hear the audio version of the poem in the post below.)

 

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