Matt Bialer – 3 poems


These poems are from the collection, RADIUS, forthcoming from Les Editions du Zaporogue.



It’s happened again

Jim Bailey’s pasture

Assistant Chief Deputy Stewart radios

I’ll be right there

Heifer lying inside

A perfect circle of bare ground

Snow covered field

An eyeball, left ear, tongue

Part of lip

Removed with a surgeon’s precision


No blood, no tracks

No nothing

Nothing to go on


Bailey, 65, tucks

His leathery hands

In to his well worn pockets


Barking her head off, agitated

I set her out

She went running

Full moon, I could see just fine

Running after her

Fur on the back of her neck

Standing straight up


Thought he heard choppers


Cross county –

Two more Herefords

Gomez Ranch


On the way over

My daughter calls

Single parent, sweet nine year old Sam


Special Events Coordinator, Big Marriott

Daddy, I’ve met a new man

Oh yeah?

Conference at the hotel

Has some business out by you

I’m coming too

Want you to meet him



At the ranch

Under a cedar tree

One had its jaw stripped

Clean removal of teeth

Rectum and vagina cored out

Separate incision

The other’s udder sliced off



Oval circular shaped excisions



Family of five

5 am

The mother getting ready for work

Hears a sound

Never heard before

Something like bees buzzing

But with rhythmic oscillation


From the window

Saw a red orange light

The size of a full moon

Pulsing over the pasture


A pathologist – hematologist

I trust – using him for years

Takes tissue samples


Hemoglobin’s been cooked

That means high heat, 300 degrees

Used to cut the flesh


Veterinarian: Heart’s been removed

From its pericardium

But the pericardium sac uncut



I’m racing to another ranch

More carcasses

Same deal


Reports of loud roaring

Sounds of chopper landing


Black, unmarked Chinook

Flying low during daylight

As if searching for something


Unidentified moving lights


A charolais bull and 2 cows

Art Geyer’s ranch

Unlike anything I’ve ever seen

In my 50 plus years in the cattle business


A hole approximately

¼ inch in diameter in bull’s neck

Near the brisket


And get a load of that –


A cow up in the trees

1500 pounds

Hanging off a power line


Strangest thing I’ve ever seen

In my 37 years as a lawman


I’d like to see the coyote that can do that


On my way to a press conference

My daughter calls

Daddy, we’re dropping by tomorrow ok?

That’s fine honey, just call me

You’ll see

Even Sam’s smitten


Jackson County investigator

Mike James


Stories of strange mutilations

Of cattle, last few months


Blown out of proportion


Natural causes

Jagged teeth marks

Dogs, coyotes, other predators


No confirmed case of mutilation

We haven’t

State Cattlemen’s Association haven’t

Dept. of Agriculture haven’t


Just one step away

From people getting hurt

I’ve got people buying high powered guns

They’re gonna shoot helicopters

Out of the air


Nothing more than predators


Arrive at my house

Shiny silver Mercedes

SLR McLaren Roadster

Sam’s with them

Rolls his eyes when he sees me

Then back to his hand held Star Defender


Benjamin is the man’s name

Pressed stripe woven shirt

Cotton trousers

Rolex Stealth watch


Shakes my hand

Firm grip


Sir, I know

It’s only been a few weeks

But I am crazy about your daughter


Dark jeans

Silk of satin top

Red high heels

Smoking eyeliner

Hair and make up unfussy


Her arm locked in his

As they put out the lunch

They brought


“Low cal” sandwich wraps

Pesto or Asian Turkey

Yogurt parfaits

Honey, I told you not to get

The potato salad

You don’t need that


Daddy, he knows everything about food

And picking out decorations

Right, Sam?


Doesn’t want her to go back to school

He’ll get her a better job


I ask him what he does

Algorithm engineer

Life Technologies

Collecting and analyzing

Large amounts of data


Sequencing, cloning

Expression and purification

Of antibodies

New wave of cancer drugs

It’s exciting


Out in the field a lot


The next morning

Another one

Along with the phantom helicopters


One lying on her side

Hide stripped from her jaw

Four teats removed


Input, output organs

Jaw is important

Produces enzymes

Antibody factory


Just driving away

Spot what I assume

To be the orange red tinged full moon

Rising from behind nearby hill


Then it splits

Two identical round bright objects

One of them races away

High velocity

Parallel to the horizon

The other slowly descends

Behind the hill


I keep driving


When I get home

Voice mail from my daughter

She and Benjamin

3 month anniversary weekend



Chartered a helicopter at dusk

Blue expanse of Lake Michigan

Sears Tower, Soldier Field

The famous “bean” in Millennium Park

We were drinking champagne


And the cars down below Daddy

Glittery strands of white and red

Pulse in time with the traffic lights


What do you think Daddy?

What do you think?




One February afternoon

Mrs. Hermann frantically dials her husband

Airline executive, New York City


All of the bottles are blowing their tops off


Inside their white trimmed green ranch house

Seaford, Long Island


Bottles popping their caps


In the master bedroom

Lying on its side

A small bottle of holy water

Cap unscrewed

Contents all spilled


Their eleven year old son Jimmy’s bedroom –

Right next to theirs

A small ceramic doll

Its legs broken

Plastic model ship in pieces


Bathroom cabinet –

Asprin, Kaopectate bottles

Unscrewed, on the floor

Contents spilled

In the kitchen a bottle of starch

Under the sink, cap off,



Household belonging

Taking on a life of their own


Papers from Mr. Hermann’s desk

Whirl in the air

Heavy mirror plummets from the bedroom wall


Mrs. Hermann clutches her rosary

James, call the police

Call the police



But Mr. Hermann’s hesitant

Rubs his temples

Could all be young Jimmy

A prank

With help from his sister

Skilled magic

Some sort of device

A good boy

Likes science and sports

But sometimes can’t reach him

In the car, after he met his hero Pee Wee Reese

Just stared out the window


Accuses him

Sobs: Dad, I had nothing to do with it

How could you think that?


Disturbances continue

Strange thumping sounds

A very loud pop

Bottles of nail polish remover,

Shampoo, rubbing alcohol

On the floor of the bathroom



Hummel figurines – Virgin Mary

Pastel blue robe

Whips across the living room

Smashes against the wall

Shepherd Boy flies five feet

Crashes on the rug

So quick it looked like a white streak

Or a feather


Nassau County Police

Detective Joseph Tozzi

No ordinary gum shoe

Keen observer, nickname The Hawk

Puffs a Camel


A figurine does not fly off on its own like that


Bottle tops unscrew

Pop and spill

More holy water

Old Spice, a Galaxy Spaceman

Spin down the hallway


Peroxide, Clorox, liquid air freshener


Bookcase with 25 volume encyclopedia

Turns upside down


When Tozzi walks

Down basement stairs with Jimmy

Bronze horse weighing almost 100 pounds

Shoots across the room

Slams the back of his legs


Immediately accuses the boy

You pushed the horse

Says he saw him do it

Even though he didn’t


Grave matter if you’re implicated in any way


Maybe the family’s doing it together

A joint hoax

But the father seems like a straight shooter

She was a registered nurse

Before her marriage

Supervisory position, large hospital

Catholic, particularly active

In the church and school affairs


Peeks in the boy’s room

Ducks from a world globe

Bolted at him from inside

Cracks against a wall


The room is empty


 Seems like an intelligent, likable boy


Dodgers pennants


Hodges Pops Two!

Giant/Dodger Move OK’d

Disney’s newly opened Tomorrow Land

The solar system

Crossword puzzle books

Chenille bedspread

Kidney shaped desk top

Red vinyl bar stool

Yo-yos, Rocket Racer


That night

Jimmy lies in bed

Can hear his mother weep


When will this stop

This has to stop


The boy tries to fall asleep

Pictures South Oyster Bay

Just a few miles away

Pouring in to the Atlantic Ocean



Unscrew their tops

Fall over


A bottle of mercurochrome

Wings across the living room



Newspapermen arrive

A flash bulb rises slowly

From the kitchen table

Bounces against the wall


Father McLead

St. William the Abbot Church

Sprinkles holy water


O heavenly father

Almighty God

We humbly beseech thee

To bless and sanctify this house


A parapsychologist from Duke University:

Incidents only seem to occur

When Jimmy is home


Recurrent Spontaneous Psycho Kinesis


Usually attached to one particular individual

Concentrated bursts


Occur only when he’s home

When he’s home


­One night

Mrs. Hermann, Jimmy and Lucille

Gather around the solid mahogany

Of their Montgomery Ward

Airline Television

Mr. Hermman’s appearing

On the Jack Paar Show


Nervous, uncomfortable


Please, we’re asking you all for your help

We just want our life back


A woman writes in:

Could be chimney downdrafts

Another:  local reservoir

Sending out energy waves


Russian submarine offshore

Causing magnetic field disruptions


Jet airplanes: supersonic impacts,


The devil


The chimney is capped

Television antennae dismantled


Detectives, building inspectors,

Electricians, plumbers

A technician with a dowsing rod

Rule out airplane noise, radio waves,

Underground water, house’s foundation,

Electrical system malfunction


Then the last bottle of bleach

Spills in the basement


67 documented disturbances


And that’s it

No more      Just ends for no reason


Or so they think


I wake up in the middle of the night

Step around overturned bookcase

Night table, broken plates

Yellowed scrapbooks, the Dodgers


Take a leak

Open the window


Light up a smoke


The ocean outside

Pounding the shore

Rushing in

Spilling spilling





26 year old Giselle’s

Irregular breathing

She lies on a gray blanket

Over a bare mattress


Blonde hair

Faded jeans

Yellow shirt with rips

Pallor of her cheeks


Windows closed

Blinds drawn


Except for her lips

Twisted like a corkscrew

Her face has no expression


Stale stench of Giselle’s presence

Worse than garbage or rotting flesh


Father Peter

Tousled gray hair

Hollow cheeked

Black cassock, white surplice

His third exorcism

His last


The voice must be silenced


Recites quietly from a prayer book


On a night table

Two candles flicker

A crucifix rests between them


In one corner of the room

A chest of drawers


Should have been removed before we started


To Father Peter’s left

Backs to the door

Two bulky men


One a close acquaintance of the girl’s father

Children called Uncle

A bank manager

In a blue suit

Eyes fixed on Giselle

His face an expression of helpless fear




Though it’s August

Below freezing in the room


The other’s an ex-policeman

Friend of the family

36 years on the force

Sixties, bald

Puzzled look on his face


Thinks he’s seen everything

About to find out

He hasn’t


Not even close




Not a he

Not a she or an it

Sometimes it is singular

Sometime plural


Refer to itself as I or we


Giselle, creature of God

In the Name of God

Who created you and Jesus who saves you


I command you to hear my voice


Giselle’s mouth twists

In to an S shape

Neck taut

Showing every vein and artery


Ex-policeman and her uncle

Move to hold her


Any sin will be used as weapon


Any sin


Jerks free

Sits bolt upright on the bed


Smiles, slowly


Opens mouth

In a narrow slit

Emits long wailing howl


For one minute


Her own father sniffling

Whimpers in the corner


Force it to give its name

To give its name


Hold her down

Four pairs of hands

Jesus have mercy on my baby



She screams

Lies pinned flat on the bed

Eyes wide open








Her voice sinks in rrrr’s

Animal gurgle

Wide smile











Summers at the cottage

Beale Strand, Ballybunnion seaside

Solid timber floor, slate roof

Cliff and shoreline walks


Peter 16 years old

First and last time he makes love

A girl from Listowel

Known her for three summers


That day their families went to the Listowel races


Go on a cliff walk

Hill road down to the Seaweed Baths

Along the top of the cliffs

Virgin Rock

Big arch’d island in the sea

Just near the Nun Strand

Tide out, steep and wet slope


He cannot remember the girl’s name


Innocent flirtation, giggles

Gleaming white skin, long blonde hair

Her all-knowing smile

Hold hands


Dusk in the dunes

Long narrow inlet

Bogland filled with heathers, grasses, mosses

Golden sand


Mountains and headlands

Claw the sea

Waves and spume



Passionate exchange of kisses

Simple love play, caresses

Lie naked beneath the stars

Huddle close together


The girl playfully nicknames him

Peter the Eater


Don’t worry

No one will ever know

How you made love to me

Only me


For about a year after

Interested in girls

But begins to think of the priesthood


If you ever leave the seminary

And don’t marry me

I will tell everyone your nickname


She dies a few years later

Ruptured appendix


Tell everyone, tell everyone


He can still hear the wind

But cannot remember her name





Bryant Park

Behind the New York Public Library

People begin to notice

A skinny young woman

Medium height, blonde hair

Wears jeans, black sandals

Always a gray rain coat

Over her shoulders


Visits irregular

Stays for unpredictable periods of time

Sometimes for hours

Or ten minutes

The weather not a factor

How long she sits on the bench

Sunshine, a rainy day, snow

Doesn’t matter


She looks clean

But passers by notice a rancid odor

Does this woman bathe?

Never speaks to anyone

Fixed expression

Eyes are blue but blank

Cheeks taut


A frozen smile

Teeth never visible


Plays with wooden sticks on her lap

Tape and scraps of paper


Like little crosses upside down


One day someone passes her

With a radio

Blaring music

Suddenly hands to her ears

Paces and screams


Falls hard on her face


People run over to help

A policeman appears


Turn that thing off pal


Half conscious

Still smiling

Recalls being a girl at the playground

Thrown from a swing

Kids standing over her


Her big brother George

She thinks he is too


A tall, fit man stands behind the policeman

As he crouches besides the woman


The cool snap of the air

Blue of sky

Shining faces of the skyscrapers

Children laughing

Workmen telling a joke

Cars honking


And then grunts, snarls, hisses

Helpless bleating


The tall man:

She’s Giselle

I will take care of her


Voice very clear

With authority

Dark hair, flecks of gray

Lightweight brown leisure suit


Are you a relative?


I’m the only one she has in the world


He bends over

Touches Giselle on the left wrist

Speaks quietly in her ear


In a few moments

She gets up



She is still smiling


She and the tall man

Walk slowly towards Fifth Avenue


You needn’t report this


The policeman assumes

That the man is her father


They smile the same way


But he still files a report

And mentions the tall man


It’s in the record

In the record





Giselle is plump

Grave faced

Rarely laughs

Never smiles


Speaks in a low voice


Few friends

Feels close to her big brother George

But he’s an oceanographer, California

Hardly talk or write


Drops out of Hunter College

Chemistry major

Hates the lab, professors, authority


Sales clerk, clothing store

Union Square


Lunch hour, park bench

Reading William James

Varieties of Religious Experience

Feels suddenly

But without any sense of fear

Someone leaning over her shoulder

Glaring at the pages

She looks around

He’s tall, handsome, older

Left hand rests back of bench

Brown tweed blazer


The one thing she notices

His mouth

Perfect white teeth

Glimpses behind his lips

He reads out loud


Open page of book


When you find a man living on the ragged end of consciousness


Runs the words

Over and over

Without stop



Slowly, whirling carousel in her ears

Over and over

The sky and buildings

Turning too

She bursts in to tears


They are still pushing you against the ragged edge


She can’t remember him

He’s not real

Though she sees him many more times


Seek thee of the Kingdom

They will know you

You will know them





Speaks despairingly




Parents worry



It’s just a bad phase

She’s rebelling


Shrinks to 95 pounds


Her mother leaves food packages

Door, East Village apartment

Afraid to knock


Giselle returns one

Smelling and dripping

Excrement and urine

On the fruit and sandwiches


One day

Giselle walks by

Illuminated cross

General Building

Park Avenue and 56th Street


Hears the Tall Man


Seems one sided

Shouldn’t they turn it upside down?

Balance the odds


He smiles


All people have powerful force in them


In the apartment

Scribbles inverted crosses

Side by side with upright ones

Tears paper 


Marriage with nothingness

Old and new corruptions


No longer sees any sensation

Of sunlight and wind


Fired from her job

Wanders out the shop


You didn’t come back

Why didn’t you come back?


Parents only speak to her

Through locked door

Of her apartment


Why doesn’t Daddy rape me

Or break my nose with his fist?

Then I would see my beauty


Fuck away


Dull thuds

Loud crashes in the apartment

Sometimes for hours

The police –

Door has to be forced


Putrid odor

Freezing temperature

We’re in a heat wave for God’s sake


Giselle’s brother George

Home for extended visit

Married, two children


Hard to believe the stories

About his little Giselle


Mother sits him down

The living room

His poor mother’s shrunk, more wrinkles

Cream polyester short sleeve blouse

Lilac floral skirt


She’s going away with Evil

That’s it     Evil


George laughs it off

He’s a scientist

His beloved mother superstitious

Worries too much


Giselle’s a little weird, that’s all




Gets a call from his wife back home

Their Anna, youngest

Scary fall

Pushed off the monkey bar

Hit her head


Who did it? Who did it?


Has a big bump but she’s ok


George’s mother

Hands him a crucifix


Hide it in her room

You’ll see Son

She won’t stand for it


Giselle lets George in

Visibly excited to see him


Sits and listens to her

Talks slowly

In soft, staccato voice


Something is wrong

Very wrong

Senses a deep change


Mannerisms still there

But as if she’s repeating a script

Many of her

Not just her

Or something


She frightens him

He does not frighten easily


Tells him she knows

Anna fell


That’s awful, just awful

Only a bump


It could’ve been worse you know

These things can get bad


Clenches his fist

Pulls a strand of hair


When Giselle goes to the bathroom

Places crucifix under mattress


She returns

Turns white

Falls rigidly to the floor


Jerking her pelvis back and forth

Foams at the mouth

Stomps on the wooden floor

And stomps


Bares teeth





Father Peter’s palms are dry

And his mouth


Glances at the girl


Her eyes closed

But eyeballs pulsing beneath lids

As if caught in heated conversation


Wide smile

Across her lips

Head turned to one side

As if listening




Half whisper

Can’t find his voice

Feels weak


Why fuck your gentle heart

I am now of the Kingdom you know

So hump off


Betcha he doesn’t know how to hump


The voice must be silenced


Edge of her teeth

White glow

A light behind the lips


Crows feet thin away


Le cha Venichretha


Hebrew words from her



Let’s make a deal Peter

Just you and me

Peter the Eater


Don’t worry

No one will ever know

Only me

Father Peter dizzy

Can’t breathe

Almost loses balance




The waves, distant summer so dear

She can’t have it

Feeling the waves with the girl

Holding hands

Playfully tosses sand

Droplets of water on her skin



She can’t have it


A deal Peter

Aleh Beth Gimel

Forget your Hebrew

In all that hair and skin?


Get it to reveal its name

Its name




Tschah Peter

What’s a little Hebrew

Between you and me?





If you’re thinking of that

Little pimply fat girl with no tits

Forget it


The girl’s father

The ex cop, the banker

Looking at the chest of drawers


Rocking back and forth

Brass handles rattle


Going to explode




No, Peter…




All that is Unholy a cockinacunt

Will somebody fuck me




High pitched scream




Shoulders, hips, thighs, feet







Now Giselle’s a dental assistant

Sterilize and disinfect

Instruments and equipment

Prepares and lays out

Instruments and materials

Required to treat each patient


Provides comfort to patients in the chair

Prepare them for treatment


They’re children

Now a red headed boy, freckles

Two cavities


Moans during the drilling


It hurts  

Hurts so much



Hands him stick of sugarless gum

Tousles his hair


Come on, show me that smile




Father Peter

Back in his beloved Kerry

Cottage overlooking the sea at Reen


Full time nurse with him


Last one

Took it all out of him


Never the same



Surrounded by the sea

Mountain views

Sandy and rocky coves



Watches waves crash

On the boulders


And again


The wind on their faces


He smiles

Her name was June




Matt Bialer has had poetry published by or forthcoming from H_NG_M_N, Forklift Ohio, Green Mountains Review, Blip and a few others. He has a collection coming out some time next year from a small publisher in the UK called Stanza Press (PS Publishing). By day, he is a literary agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates ( He also does black and white street photography and has work in the permanent collections of The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of the City of New York and the New York Public Library. You can see his photographs here: He also has them collected in a book entitled MORE THAN YOU KNOW (Les Editions du Zaporogue, And – last – I have watercolor landscapes in the following books BEST OF AMERICA WATERMEDIA II and BEST OF WORLDWIDE LANDSCAPE (Kennedy Publishing).




About gobbet

gobbet is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the very best experimental poetry and prose. Intellectual perversity and explorations of dark themes are positively encouraged. We are only interested in work that is progressively experimental. We want to see risks, and we want to see them pay. No previously published work. Prose should not be longer than 1000 words. There are always exceptions. Send 3-5 poems. Include a short bio. Send submissions to Work will be published every 5-10 days. We also intend to publish anthologies of selected work published in gobbet. We will do our best to reply promptly. Most submissions will receive a decision within a month.
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One Response to Matt Bialer – 3 poems

  1. poetrypower says:

    Great stuff.

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