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Poetry pieces by Kelley Beeson 

Kelley is a poet from Pittsburgh who is working on her first book of poetry.

© 2001/2002/2003  Kelley Beeson

The Phenomenology of Electricity


Snapshots of Electric Leftovers                     


                                                                        I do not know which to prefer,

                                                                        The beauty of inflections

                                                                        Or the beauty of innuendoes,

                                                                        The blackbird whistling

                                                                        Or just after.

                                                                                    Wallace Stevens



Even here, across the country, the cadence of kindness remains the same. 

This morning, the curtains pulled back exposing the Bitteroots of the Rockies,

gracious mommas for the girl who's never been further west than Michigan. 


Last night this was the truth: Fucking is a brilliant idea. 

We'll need sustenance at Paul's Pancakes in the morning.

And this: she trusts anything foreign and invites it through the looking glass,

                                                                                                                        everything in repose.  Peach crepes on the plate in front of her, two twins in the amniotic sac, side by side. 

For months the truth has been this: he is her hip-clinging match. 

The pacific outline of his face, is his face. 

                                                            But then: 

the fluorescent lights in the diner; the aurora borealis on the plane the night before;

                                                                                                                                    the wave

of passengers dividing down the middle, tipped toward their windows.






He screws her in his gray Ford behind the Ace Hardware.  Enters her.  Finishes.  Dresses.

The whole time explicating the poem he wrote about just this spot:

                                                                                    the Clark Fork River and the pheasant and

the squirrel and the crow.  But the edge of his voice bursts before becoming his voice and she is sliding panties and truth over her legs and she is not listening.  She is thinking about and how sadness spins and pricks before it becomes stellar and now her panties glow electric, are diaphanous.

                                    She is lit and transparent and this is the truth: the mythical heart kicks and

                                                                                                everything left— a well, pain-deep.







Each month the body's other mouth opens a gorge,

a guileless wound and pleasing. 

                                    There are reddened maps— dragons, views of continents from space—

slabs and ribbons of blood on her panties.  She imagines the rods of blood,

                                                            split into ropes surrounded by loose strands and fibrous clots,

like wakes or jets:  her guides into to the body, so familiar it's primitive: 

fire down at the roots

These are days of pleading:

                                            the refrain: you must not let the blood!

Widowed from the body, in exile from the flesh yet welcomed into another fold,  

                                                                                                                        of womanhood.

But she is still split. Butterflied

and instead of the moon she listens to the stars:

            Go to where the white road meets nothing.

            No, further: the hidden gears in the mobile above your crib.

            Further: the genetic spark of female.

            Further still: the evening, at Lascaux.


She is a flitting cabbage butterfly made of white Chinese paper,

                                                            folded and folded again, hinged to those

migrating winged selves.  She is passing , coming undone.

The cut cord drops, catches in an electrical storm of hormones,

                                                                                                slips from the delicate place,

edges frayed and long, a braid of animal hair draped between her legs— a benediction, a sign:

                                                                                                There are many ways to be saved.






I stop to carefully measure the Atlantic coastline.






I am not surprised my mother's name, Gail rises from lively, from stranger. 

Everything practical at fourteen.  Patient as violets.

At 27 everything  impractical:  a longing for those heavy milk-filled pears,

nipples the size of  her husband's palms, a belly— 

full of cane sugar, bulgar wheat, toasted almonds, anything new— pulled taut. 


In front of the mirror, arms swept up ,

she gathers thick mounds of dark brown curls,

already a motherhood, calls them forth through the brush,

creates static— baby shorts and cracks.  This is where my life began:

a moment of care for the self before a smaller self arrives,

a prayer mouthed against dried rose petals darkened with lampblack. 

The long weathering had silvered her hair,

set her on fire so she would burn up quicker.


When I arrived, the amber in the salted ship of her womb

was the raft for my nub-body. 

            Amber— gold of the north.  Mohammed says:

            a true believer's prayer beads should be made of amber.  Women once carried

amber around in small bags to guard against the swapping of newborn babies. 

Her womb, a purse of sheepskin, tucked like an undercurrent in the ocean

                                                                                                            moved through the streets.

She turned in bed, amber rubbed against my body, against the chargeable walls.

Produced sparks.  Husks, feathers, small wooden splinters—

anything loosed from nests— flocked to her belly.

Such capricious sparks, lunatic currents and tensions, I was sure to be a girl:

flowering daughter of Agammemnon and Clytemnestra.

I am—  tender shoot where promise and fact grow together—

Amber.  After elektron.  After electricity.




A Sestina of Naming

(nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2001)                                                                                                            


Maybe this is why I am a poet:  I answer the call to name.

Between the hours of midnight and four I assign

everything a name:  the small lamp becomes All

Light; the cat, Goddess; the curtains flung wide, Some Truth

I Will Never Close.  Each thing is something else and itself:

a beauty that begins quietly but, like impulsive nature, turns,


uprooting the sediments of meaning.  Turning

the early morning into Holy Dalliance where names

are sacred gifts I could give to every tiny hair, themselves

important enough to be called-on by name, assigned

a special title.  Each one telling the long dirty truth

of my life:  Straight.  Brittle.  Fine.  Even Gray, which is all


that will be left one day.  And then I will name them all

Gray and love each in its old age as they slowly turn

through the brush.  I will know I am Old and learn the sweet truths

that my grandmother and mother knew.  Recording their names

here:  Gail-- Father of Joy.  Shirley-- Song is Mine.  Assigning

later my own name, Kelley-- Warrior Maiden, confusing in and of itself.


A contradiction like me.  A perfect fit.  How could they know the self

being born, would fit into such a big name?  All

of it a house for me to live in.  Six letters gently assigned

to be me.  Or me to be them.  My signature, quick evidence of the turns

I've made in this life.  Driver's License.  Patient.  Name

of Applicant.  Somehow though, it is not the whole truth.


Kelley doesn't begin to name me.  Doesn't address the truth

of my life:  the way heat rises in my belly as I make myself

come; It forgets my mercurial cycle, which I name

Loveliness; faces of my breasts, the pawing hands and all

the ways I tighten when I am cold, the skin-- Tender Word-- turning

inward.  I wish for something that does not forget.  A name that assigns


authority to every cell.  Delight.  Promise.  Season.  An assignation

to designate me alive.  One that finds the sparse truth

of the world and includes me in it.  The way waves turn

up and back-- Commitment.  I will name myself

and in that I will name everything.  All

the transactions, streets and sojourns, they too will be named.


The world lifts up its assignments.  Asks for the names

of all its ferocious truths and then turns,

leaving me in the brilliant wake of itself, of it all.



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All work is property of Kelley Beeson.  © 2001/2002/2003.


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