Say the Word

To be apart, I’m told.
To be asunder.
To be a privative, negative, reversing force.
To be reached only by oaths and curses.
To have black sheep sacrificed in my name
because I’m a god, yes,
as we are all gods on occasion.
To be bodied as I am bodied.
To be rich of earth,
which is to be chronically chthonic.
To be where the gems are—
underground.
To be Dīs. To be Dīs. To be Dīs.
To reject any pickaxe disguised as love.

More by Sandra Beasley

Cherry Tomatoes

Little bastards of vine.
Little demons by the pint.
Red eggs that never hatch,
just collapse and rot. When

my mom told me to gather
their grubby bodies
into my skirt, I'd cry. You 
and your father, she'd chide—

the way, each time I kicked 
and wailed against sailing, 
my dad shook his head, said
You and your mother. 

Now, a city girl, I ease one 
loose from its siblings,
from its clear plastic coffin,
place it on my tongue.

Just to try. The smooth
surface resists, resists,
and erupts in my mouth: 
seeds, juice, acid, blood

of a perfect household.
The way, when I finally 
went sailing, my stomach 
was rocked from inside

out. Little boat, big sea.
Handful of skinned sunsets.

Vocation

For six months I dealt Baccarat in a casino. 
For six months I played Brahms in a mall. 
For six months I arranged museum dioramas;
my hands were too small for the Paleolithic
and when they reassigned me to lichens, I quit. 
I type ninety-one words per minute, all of them 
Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal.
I speak Russian, Latin, a smattering of Tlingit. 
I can balance seven dinner plates on my arm.
All I want to do is sit on a veranda while 
a hard rain falls around me. I'll file your 1099s. 
I'll make love to strangers of your choice. 
I'll do whatever you want, as long as I can do it 
on that veranda. If it calls you, it's your calling, 
right? Once I asked a broker what he loved 
about his job, and he said Making a killing. 
Once I asked a serial killer what made him 
get up in the morning, and he said The people.

Economy

After you've surrendered to pillows 
and I, that second whiskey, 
on the way to bed I trace my fingers 
over a thermostat we dare not turn up.
You have stolen what we call the green thing—
too thick to be a blanket, too soft to be a rug—
turned away, mid-dream. Yet your legs
still reach for my legs, folding them quick 
to your accumulated heat.
                              These days
only a word can earn overtime. 
Economy: once a net, now a handful of holes. 
Economy: what a man moves with 
when, even in sleep, he is trying to save
all there is left to save.

Related Poems

Summoning the Body That Is Mine When I Shut My Eyes

Come second heartbeat sounding in the breast
Come prismatic light dissembling
Come familiar spirit  Come bare-chested in the weeds
Come private imposter  Come hidden ballast
Come sudden departures  Come stress without shape
Because belief is odd  Come swaggering answer
Come invisible ink  Come beatific scrawl
Come as squirrels are climbing backwards
Come as dogwood blossoms come apart
Come strumming an unspeakable power ballad
Through a torrent of rain with cheeks flushed scarlet
Come down the rusty metal slide
Come belted kingfisher flapping
Come lavender asters wheeling
Come loose, a sapling lengthening
Come honeysuckle  Come glistening

13 Questions for the Next Economy

On the side of the road, white cardboard in the shape of a man,
     	     illegible script. A signpost with scrawl: Will pay cash for 
              diabetes strips.
 
A system under the system with its black box.                    	Disability hearing?
a billboard reads. Trouble with Social Security? Where does the riot begin?
 
Spark of dry grass, Russian thistle in flames, or butterflies bobbing
as if pulled by unseen strings            	  through the alleyway.
        	
My mother’s riot would have been peace. A bicycle wheel
              chained to a concrete planter. What metaphor
 
              can I use to describe the children sleeping in cages in 
                  detention
centers? Birds pushed fenceward by a breeze? A train of brake lights
 
extending? Mesquite pods mill under our feet
on a rainless sidewalk. What revolution            will my daughter feed?
 
A break-the-state twig-quick snap or a long divining       	    as if
for water? A cotton silence? A death?          	      Who will read this
 
in the next economy, the one that comes after the one that kills us?
What lessons will we take from the side of the road? A wooden crucifix,
 
a white bicycle, a pinwheel, a poem
waiting to be redacted:                         Which would you cross out?

Nondisabled Demands

It’s not fair. You owe it to the reader.
We’re trying to help. We have an uncle
with a disability and he always says

exactly what it is. Take it from him.
Take it from us. Take it from them.
You can’t expect people to read you

if you don’t come out and say it.
Everyone knows the default mode
of a poem is ten fingers, ten toes

with sight and hearing and balance.
When this is not true, it is incumbent
on you to come out and say it.

Here’s what. We’ll rope you
to the podium and ask
What do you have? What is it?