December 24-30, 2000: Jennifer Besemer and Adam Clay


week of December 24-30, 2000

Jennifer Besemer and Adam Clay

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Jennifer Besemer

Bio (auto)

I was born December 5, 1970 in rural New York State, and grew up in Buffalo I attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in creative writing After five alienating years in Washington, D.C , I now live happily in Chicago with my husband and four cats My poems appear frequently in many small-press and independent magazines and journals, including Lilliput ReviewThe Bitter OleanderAngelflesh and Avocet My second chapbook What is Born was the seventh in Lilliput Review’s “Modest Proposal” series, and my most recent chapbook, The Year of Wood, has just been published Alongside my writing career I pursue another life as a visual artist I’m particularly interested in collaborative and cross-genre projects

The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Jennifer Besemer and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Bhakti Poem

I have you in my hair
you are my private Ganges
rank and holy
tiny petal-borne flames
in your eyes
funerals and dogs
at your feet
sweet rice
and mango breath
all saffron and ashes
and marigold crown
Each bundle of blossoms
you wear
is a kiss,
a secret told
in the hum of multitudes,
a hive of hearts and smoke I dance in you
I dance the world
I dance your name three times
Your smile is my cottage.


Woke up in the floor
with your foot in my mouth,
the ash from the hearthstones
on my cheek,
my bed of nails overturned
at last, its cold teeth
biting maple
There is no word for wonder,
not in this light,
no word for the moment
when sense is nothing
but a straw horse
in a burning barn
Woke up on the floor
with wild rabbits in my chest
and the last dregs of fear
encrusted on my hands
There is no word for gratitude,
not here, where the birds
conspire to measure each moment
in pieces of sound
and the mechanics of movement
are made more arcane
by the ridge of your back
and your foot in my mouth.


Linen and rosebuds
and the shadows of the trees
on the clockface

a rim of wine
dried on the threshold
peppered with glass

and me in the corner
laughing at the open door
through which the dreams
have gone.

Adultery With Winter

In the morning she will commit
adultery with blue-eyed Winter
Since the night the north wind
pinned her against her door
drowned her doubt
in aquavit and cigarettes
she has shivered
hypothermic with lust
offering her mouth
to the soul of snow
her warmth to the long chill
fingers of trouble
is just a name,
an old one from far before
She makes new names now,
calling special ones by Heartbeat
or Amazement
or Little Shining Stone Best friends and lovers are all Smile
That’s the secret–
every friend is an accomplice
as she learns to love herself more
Tomorrow at Winter’s house
there will be ice with slow fish below
and aurora borealis in every mirror.

Adam Clay

Bio (auto)

I’m 22 years old and live in Hattiesburg, MS with my dog.

The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Adam Clay and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Grandma Left Hacking Her Good Lung Up

for the hospital, then came home
in a ceramic jar, packed
floppy as the knots on the rotting rope swing
From then on, she watched us
from the paint-cracked mantle, the fire
popping and prodding every thought
I can remember thinking when the New
Madrid fault bends again, the first thing
to do is grip grandma against my belly, 
so the pot won’t break like the Coke
bottles I drop from the highway forty-nine

overpass You’d need a special broom
to sweep up the ashes It’d be a mess
so bad it could make your quivers
shake, your ship sink Your curtain tear.

Interview at IHOP

Are you our sort of person?
Legally blind? Deaf, too?
Anything left but a few teeth
hanging onto your palate like
ham and eggs on a cracked plate?

You’ll fit right in here at two thirteen
an hour plus tips, and lucky for you,
the hours are endless, you can work
here fulltime twice in a week Take
this ruffled apron, tie it over your pants Table fourteen needs their pancakes,
and they know how much you need them
Open your hand, take them this hot syrup,
this coffee bricking itself into its bottomless cup.

New Territory

My first memory is not of sloping
front-yard grass, or a gutted
pumpkin, tinting the air orange
Instead, I’m three years old,
in the backseat of the seventy-
nine Celica, needing to make
water, wiggle the worm,
drain myself

Mom, with my sleeping
sister on her shoulder,
hands me a milk-stained
bottle, tells me when aiming,
I should always aim to please
I’m steadily holding myself
until the bottle starts to fill,
then I let go, losing control,
and in my first rebellious

act, sprayed my mother, sister,
and the Celica In one swift swoop,
my first burst of graffiti: AC was here,
in a language which was still
a new frontier to me.


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