Poems of the Week – Erica Bernheim



Chicago Day Lily

Left alone and watered less, it flowers
into the nightmare tarnished dreams I
predicted would come for me next. Tender
me your loose change. Afford me purchase
of your maps. To grasp the centermost
spectacular of the lily is to think of the possible,

that this city misses you already, the expressway
of alleged serpentine delight awaits your tendered return.
This season allows itself the luxuries of clothing
askewed, seeing through these dirty tricks
we will do again and then once more. Prehensile
and filthy, the slickness of the nervous bulb

permits it to dream cyclically of the light above.
This genre of clemency is well-deserved, and
without it, we’d not breathe, humble Kansan
refusers of such a story. The absences are real,
decoys for precious exits through soil that bleeds
hues of toothpaste and swimming pools, real colors

with missing eyes. Sunshine is the new currency,
the reminder we foretold would bring predictable
gestures, the nuance of the sound, the grasping
at whatever’s easiest, in front of you, take it, best
and worst decisions—like sadnesses we let linger—
too long across decay’s hesitant deep plane.


The Halo Effect

The algebra of our bodies is always
here. With us, it is the exhalation
of space, the bites we take from
many things. In this picture, everyone
looking to the right will be saved.

Nothing was important but us,
the concern, the languages,
all percentages of the loss. I have
been studying your silent organisms,
these islands filled with relative families.

If you can imagine so many people
saying the same things in different
languages, you can understand the
economy of an airport and how
the people in it will be arranged.

Impatient people have no business
planting trees. Next: a spider plant’s
roots, evil white glistening and cracking
open their containers. Tell it, say be
good when no one is meant to be watching


[We have to be mean, my uncle]

We have to be mean, my uncle
says to the garbage bag of things

my grandmother kept. We look
through them with the television

on. An outfielder who looks over
his head loses sight of the ball.

The score does not matter. What
the bag held does not matter, but

it was jewelry and it was pictures
and they wanted it thrown away.

It is the responsibility of the utterance
which prevents us from making it.

It is a melting tree that feels no rain.
It is love the true carrier of sound.


* all poems from The Mimic Sea, 42 Miles Press, 2012.

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