National Poetry Month – Erin Belieu (April 7)

The Best American Poetry 2011 is easily one of my favorite poetry collections that I’ve read. This poem stood out to me as being honest and funny.

When at a Certain Party in NYC

Wherever you’re from sucks,
and wherever you grew up sucks,
and everyone here lives in a converted
chocolate factory or deconsecrated church
without an ugly lamp or souvenir coffee cup
in sight, but only carefully edited objects like
the Lacanian soap dispenser in the kitchen
that looks like an industrial age dildo, and
when you rifle through the bathroom
looking for a spare tampon, you discover
that even their toothpaste is somehow more
desirable than yours. And later you go
with a world famous critic to eat a plate
of sushi prepared by a world famous chef from
Sweden and the roll is concevied to look like
“a strand of pearls around a white throat,” and is
so confusingly beautiful that it makes itself
impossible to eat. And your friend back home –
who says the pioneers who first settled
the great asphalt parking lot of our
middle were not in fact heroic, but really
the chubby ones who lacked the imagination
to go all the way to California – it could be that
she’s on to something. Because, admit it,
when you look at the people on these streets,
the razor-blade women with their strategic bones
and the men wearing Amish pants with
interesting zippers, it’s pretty clear that you
will never cut it anywhere that constitutes
a where, that even ordering a pint of tuna salad in
a deli is an illustrative exercise in self-doubt.
So when you see the dogs on the high-rise elevators
practically tweaking, panting all the way down
from the 19th floor to the 1st, dying to get on
with their long-planned business of snuffling
garbage or peeing on something to which all day
they’ve been looking forward, what you want is
to be on the fastest Conestoga home, where the other
losers live and where the tasteless azaleas are,
as we speak, halfheartedly exploding.

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2 thoughts on “National Poetry Month – Erin Belieu (April 7)

  1. I adore poems like this. It’s honest and funny, like you said, and it has such a distinct rhythm that I couldn’t help but get sucked in.

  2. Sounds like a collection worth getting hold of. I’ll counter with one from The best British Poetry 2011.

    Coal End Farm 1962
    I don’t remember the Beanley orra-man,
    his boots down the lonnen black as a wet day, his caravan
    under a butchered elm’s imaginary wingspan,
    rusted, cantankerous: “all that can’s been done”
    my mother said, then, low “he’s God’s own one.”
    I can’t recall his singing of the kingdom come,
    or whispering from underneath his hands
    if my soul the lord should take,” or how he crept away
    like Billy Blin, awake long hour before the blackbirds, eager to begin
    carving off a dead lambs skin to roll one barely living in
    under a dazed ewe, force tongue to tit, tit to tongue:
    mole-blind he’d move, from east to western sun, more whole
    in his Gomorrah than the doucest thing, but slow,
    immortal, helpless as his beasts to conjure up tomorrow.

    Pippa Little.

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