Kate Bernadette Benedict, of New York City, is the author of the full-length poetry collection Here from Away and the editor of Umbrella: A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose. Recent online credits include Wheelhouse, BigCityLit and qarrtsiluni; recent print credits include The New Plains Review and Anon. Her home page is http://www.katebenedict.com/
floppy or flapped,
flaunt if you must
your musthy Esplendido!
What place is this,
this sodden arrondissement?
The only things I recognize
are the doughworks,
their dumpling smell.
What to put a hip to,
a bleeding lip to?
Liebling, one more step
and we’ll be grunting for breath;
the stoop is that steep.
You just wanted to take a dip
so the salt might leach the grime out,
but this is Stella Maris;
first you must be taught the principles.
That is why you have to wade
among the catechumens
so please, off with them, each of the four shoes.
When finally they garb you in Neoprene
they pronounce you all that and much too,
sensing, perhaps, that you have spent
the night and morning in unusual decubiti.
Back to the dirt road with you, then.
Get back behind the wheel—
transmission, ignition, thrust.
Hard to make out their outlines
in this blind of smoke
but these someones have a familiar aspect
as do the fitments and movables.
Yes, yes, you toddled here once,
between and around those very legs.
They always smoked,
it was the done thing—
a constant tapping
of pipe bowls and Camel packs.
Whiffs of ash and sulfur—
it all comes back,
these stenches are your madeleines.
A female’s got hold of you.
In a trice your pants are off
and she sets to her devotionals.
Touchings and probings,
such intimate lubrication.
The smoke lifts.
What’s private is public now.
No one at this counter has been fed.
No one has approached to take your order.
The carafe of coffee that came your way
grew icy aeons ago.
That floozy in a sheer chemise may be
the server assigned to you
or is it the rhizomelic dwarf or the red giant?
Watch, they shapeshift, they are the one being.
Hunger will segue into headache
and then into a palliating anesthesia.
It will be dark by the time you leave the place,
too late to return to your station.
Let the screen saver, the marquee,
scroll through the night,
green boustrophedon against the black.
SISTERHOOD OF A CERTAIN BED
And the Second Best, if that,
considering all our night sweats and sloughings,
dandruffs and leakages and bloody shows.
Nothing between our nudities and these unlaundered sheets.
Yet the dimensions are ample enough,
a pillowed vastness compensating, to a degree,
for the whiffs and snufflings.
Orpheline showed me her scar today,
distorted S she had me suss
from her lumbus to her shoulder blade.
And I opened wide my labia
and showed her my decay.
ALONG WITH IT
Cherie, Cherie, they are rounding us all up,
you’ll just have to go along with it.
Keep your nose clean, keep your shirt on.
For pete’s sake try to keep the line straight.
The wallet in your see-through clutch
is too apparent. Tuck it in your deep crotch pocket.
No use crying for mommy or daddy.
Your daddy’s long dead
and your mother is a broom puppet now.
Note the one stick where the legs were,
the straws for hair, the actual face on her.
What blackguardry is this? How she whinges.
At Merge Point Delta, there will be a recess.
Bouncy ball and jumprope
and a chance to take a test flight on an SST—
the small sort, designed for buffs and the prodigal bored.
Slip the pilot a C-note or a bit of Americana.
Given that, he’ll whisk you off to another sector.
But be forewarned about the place.
There will be ice to break
and geysers, fluxions, rotting sharkmeat for a meal.