Dreamers' Songs: Nancy Bevilaqua's Poems

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Tag: Manhattan

Poem in here/there Poetry

One of several love-poems to Manhattan that I originally wrote during my participation in the Tupelo Press 30/30 project this past July, published in the beautiful new poetry journal, here/there:

http://here-there-poetry.co.uk/web/nancy-beliquava/

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.)

 

How You Looked (Manhattan VA Hospital, AIDS Unit, Spring, 1990)

 

This is one of the five poems included in my book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days.

 

How You Looked (Manhattan VA Hospital, AIDS Unit, Spring, 1990)

David, let me wash and cool
your swollen feet while you’re awake
so nothing can get worse, at least
for now, at least not here where we
are so alone, the nurses masked,
reluctant to come in the room.

I’d almost tell you how you looked
asleep, all afternoon,
your body on a boat
losing course, slipping over fish, the sun
a yellow wine that whispered
in my head to let you drift.
I watched your face fall fully
open, saw your sheets come loose
and drop apart, your body a mirage,
your belly hollowed-out and vaporous,
your penis arched and cool
dozing there, flawless in the glare.

The sound is just the rush
of water and a washcloth
in a bowl. Tell me if it feels too hot
or cold. You’ll feel my fingers
run across your toes so thick
I’ll never pass a towel through. Your skin
is breaking up like desert floor,
no longer big enough to hold you in.

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