Michelle Bitting

 

(USA)

 

 
 The Call

 

Most days I wake early

wrapped in miles

of you, mink unfurling

from memory’s fist,

from imagined cities

where the waif huddles

in dim-lit tunnels

untangling her baggies

of trafficked gold. My need for this

is great and pendulous.

When was the last time

you touched fur that supple,

stroked the underbelly of want?

Beauty digs its rare nails in:

talons, razor-fine, sprung

from weathered canyons, reflect

grave pleasures I caress,

cast across country, epoch, leaf.

The falcon and the falconer,

who’s to say who’s king

atop the sharpened branch?

Two fingers gloved as one,

pressed skyward, summon stars

no matter what. Thoughts

swung, thrust at high speed,

a rapid change in direction,

tear the air—delicate strips—and land

in your warm world,

my tongue’s ornament. To die

that achingly fresh, called

back to life, a leash, your song,

the unchained route, soaring.

You make it look so easy,

making gods as you go.

 

 

In Praise of My Brother, the Painter

 

How every morning he rose, slave

to the sound, this endless call to make.

Mad hatter, dervish sawyer, a primitive

blur of hands at work: fingers feeding

the dreamiest bolts through needles,

vision’s machinery. In the photo where

he stands, fists on hips—defiant, electric

in his Bowery studio, splotched jeans

and boots, the clouds of white gesso

a kind of palette couture—so satisfied

his look: Je suis arrive, Asshole…And

this is how I want to remember him.

Not what a note left like that means.

Not the slow descent, the pills or piles

of soiled laundry. Not the dog left barking

in the kitchen, the bowl with enough grain

to last. No, I want the beauty, even

his cursive, the swirling tints

of parting thought, the art itself: Dear Sister,

if I could survive this long, you will flourish.

 

 

 

 

Boys Like You

 

Boys like you like to ride on trains

the steady hum of wheels

the rails’ endless strum

make splintered neurons

in your brain line up

singing, it’s repetition in your eye,

the sweet iteration of color

and shape, trees whizzing by

in cedar clumps, dry grass lots

of parsnips gone to seed, crows

making cursive in the paper sky

flirting or hunting field mice,

at this speed it’s hard to tell,

our cokes and hot dogs jostling

and still your gaze stays glued

to the bridges, ducts, ravines,

the concrete overpass

spray painted like fireworks

on backs of houses, porches

hemorrhaging milk crates, old fridges,

propane tanks and laundry lines

rippling faded floral sheets,

a dog on a chain straining

at birds as we dash along

not saying a word, as the world

a mute holy blur rushes past us

and you pray to the window

 

 

On Any Day Like Alice

 

No reason to think it wouldn’t happen,

then it did. Fault of a loose bootlace

and slipping, her hands groping

for solid ground. Free-fall. Swirling

vertigo of tree roots, beetles,

of green tarantula nests stranded,

catching hold of her hair’s

arpeggios. Paisley blouse opening,

the fission of buttoned eyes. To fall

and fall and fall, tug of thick silt,

iron pudding heaving as she hurled

towards the heart. Escape velocity,

imploded planet—mother open,

swallowing the blue pill of her body.

Day, a smoldering crack barely visible

overhead, an angel dissolved. She crossed

herself mid-flight and fell, far

from the known address,

everything until then

that held her to its surface.

 

 

 

 

__________________________________

Michelle Bitting has work published or forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Narrative, River Styx, Crab Orchard Review, Passages North, Linebreak, diode, Anti—the L.A. Weekly and others. Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and as the Weekly Featured Poet on Verse Daily. In 2007, Thomas Lux chose her full-length manuscript, Good Friday Kiss, as the winner of the DeNovo First Book Award and C & R Press published it in 2008. Recently, she was a finalist for the Poets & Writers California Exchange contest and Rona Jaffe Foundation Awards. Michelle teaches poetry in the U.C.L.A.

Extension Writer’s Program, at Twin Towers prison with a grant from Poets & Writers Magazine and is proud to be an active California Poet in the Schools.  She recently won her second book award from Sacramento Poetry Center.  They will publish her latest manuscript titled, Notes to the Beloved due out in 2012.

Michelle was also a first place winner in the recent Beyond Baroque Poetry Award.  She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon.

 

 

www.michellebitting.com

 

 

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