Poets

Search more than 3,000 biographies of contemporary and classic poets.

Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves (W. W. Norton, 2015); I Was the Jukebox (W. W. Norton, 2010), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008), winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. In 2015 she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa.

 

By This Poet

7

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.