Amélie Frank







Ask Blondie


This apology

for the mouth full of

crushed safety glass

the other night.


In my dreams, sometimes,

it’s sand.

Over my heart,

it isn’t silicone.

It’s all the same material

just as it is always the same

matter, always the same stuff

to choke on.  Things break.

It seems like an emergency

at the time, and sometimes

it’s worse. Sometimes,

there’s never

enough warmth to fuse

the pieces into something

meaningful or rhythmic.

And when lightning strikes,

what results is never

a thing of beauty.


Sometimes, you wind up

dining with a mouth

full of glass that won’t cut,

lips that can’t speak,

and you are panting for fear that

the essential element

of bay windows

and gifts of stemware

will never stop coming up.

If there is a merciful God,

you forget what your throat is for.


If you are mystified

by the wellspring,

ask Blondie.




This Many Ways to Please the New Critics

(for Nelson Gary, who listened)


On the early July sidewalk
the only thing, a dead thing
its unmoving eye, sentinel to the end.


You’d never know this canary
had been born yellow
her job to hop about
while hardworking men give her the vapors
to fall into the Delphic swoon
to chirp, unbelieved, unheeded
or worse, misunderstood.



The psychopomp can tell you a few things
about being misunderstood.
He can arrive bearing a lottery ticket
of great joy,
and he’ll still have to outfly the scattershot
of the superstitious.


Auspicious is the glowing fruit
what becomes of the knowledge
that slides down the gullet
of Morpheus’ herald?
Creature and contemplation,
do they become one?


There is no beauty
in innuendoes
that do not exist,
in inflections that
never crossed my mind
before, during, or after.


Innocence finds the cause
of recurring winter indecipherable.
Beauty in snow, always.
It’s the barbaric cold
innocence does not understand.


Thin men go to their graves
making thin women along the way.
Whistle-clean kisses. A bullet dodged.


Everything that I know about a poem
and all the nobility and love put therein
come to nothing
if a reader commits the Intentional Fallacy.
For my part, I am not supposed to consider
the affect of a reader’s random paranoia
unless the reader tries to kill me.




Bumping into the Muse at the Party in Prefecture 3


An unanticipated brushing up of shoulders,

and here you are, trying to scare up a chilled beer.

Hello, Peter.


It is a party for the very young.

Crowded.  Noisy. Obligatory.

And all of these people are silver and socialize

with the careless fluidity of mercury.

That kind of pretty.

Bright, privileged, sharp-profiled, and sure,

these children are millennials all gone to surfaces

that the generation preceding mine used to call “zipless.”

Keen children, but not keening, for they are indoors.

In fact, these are not real children.

You can always tell the real ones

by their scalded faces and teary eyes,

and the police are nowhere in sight.


You corral me with a steady arm, and oh yes, it is you.

Your textures bristly, fresh from the road and brush.

Your scent both citrus and season.

We pair off as older souls,

none of the bise-bise and self-regard whirling around us.


“And how are you?” you say.


I glance across a sea of cleverly bobbed girls with

stupidly expensive purses,

boys with chopsticks in their hair

and the nameless, itinerant help

passing along hors d’oeuvres

gussied up on platters of molten foil.

I then realize that you and I

are the only people in the room

who have any natural color about us.

Our faces show different dalliances with the sun.

Our hair is streaked with the metallics of time:

copper, brass, pewter, alkaline sand.


I say, “It’s a motherless world, Peter,

filled with boats none will salvage

and night-blooming poisons just now drifting in

from the wrong side of the sunrise.

My dreams are riddled with the

grubby thumbs of people who stack coins.

I lull myself to sleep with thoughts

of disarticulated arms reaching out for me.

As the swan laments, “I catch sight of gnashing teeth.””


“Ah,” you laugh. “You’ve been reading Chris Hedges again.

You’re not asleep at all.”


“All those grubby thumbnails worrying the black seam,”

I say. “The tarot these days isn’t good.  We’ve failed horribly.

When that fourth tower topples—”


You place two crooked knuckles across my lips.

“I know. It sucks horribly to be Cassandra. Too much caffeine.”


I can’t stop myself.  Occupational hazard.

“The sea, it keeps coming and coming and coming.

So tall. Relentless. Swollen with hapless rays, white cars,

and marooned dogs. And here in the states,

they are hanging witches again. For God’s sake,

don’t get caught with a uterus in the Midwest.”


Across the room, I catch sight of my friend S.A. Griffin,

returned from an extended jeremiad-writing workshop in Joshua Tree.

Head to toe, he has turned the color of original salt.

He points across the party throng to a large, black oak shelf of beautiful books.

Floor-to-ceiling books, cantilevered and dusty.  His voice booms, but

no one pays heed. The last prophet on the West Coast is going unheard.


We work the black seam together.


Dentes frendentes video.


I snap out of it.  I take your beautiful face in my hands.


“Look, I’m sorry that I’m not amusing, but I can give you the truth.

There remains heat in our bodies, marrow in our bones.

You have a grandson and a great love of your life.

I have a house and a dog.  Not a thing from this

too-entertained crowd is contagious to us.

We have known better music, eaten better food.

We have loved people who occupied the epidemic.

Like kisses like, even in the Midwest,

and the world is not destroyed by it.”


“Can you stomach the dreams?” you ask kindly.


“When I can remember them,” I say.


“And everyone has to move through a motherless world at some time in their lives,”

you remind me. “You have a house, a dog, and hot chocolate. And I love you.”


Our hands clasp.  You are the warmest thing in the world.  As you slip away,

the last thing I say to you is this.


“There are words from the bottom of the ocean that I promise you I will speak.

The dangerous boats that bump up against the coast do give me pause.

Certainly, there is danger in every molecule

that carries sound and sight to the wrong ears and eyes.

There are flies with rack-and-pinion systems

and chemicals that can pass through crevices in walls, take shape,

and cull whoever sleeps nearby.   This is our 1939.

These are the days of hors d’oeuvres and circuses.

This is the world in which laughter and memory will be our salvation.

And yes—yes.  I love you, too.”













Los Angeles native Amélie Frank is the author of five poetry collections, and her work has appeared in print and on-line in numerous local and national publications. She founded The Sacred Beverage Press with poet Matthew Niblock and has served as a judge for poetry and spoken word contests, a director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a member of the Beyond Baroque Board of Trustees, and coordinated The Big Picture a documentary photograph of the largest group of Southern California poets ever gathered for a single event. She has received the Spirit of Venice Award (2003), served on the Ventura Arts Council (2004), and in 2007 was honored with a certificate of appreciation from the Los Angeles City Council for her work in the Southern California literary arts community. In 2012, the Board of Directors at Beyond Baroque voted unanimously to honor her the Distinguished Service Award.  Her biography appears in both Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who of American Women.

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