Matt Bialer – 3 poems

 

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

 

LEVITY

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

Denver

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

 

Bloodless

Oval circular shaped excisions

 

Gomez

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

How?

 

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

Unfounded

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

Tan

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

Chicago

 

Chartered a helicopter at dusk

Blue expanse of Lake Michigan

Sears Tower, Soldier Field

The famous “bean” in Millennium Park

We were drinking champagne

Laughing

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?

 

 

SPILLS

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

Noises

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,

Spilled

 

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

Spilling

 

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

Scrapbooks:

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

Pouring

 

Unscrew their tops

Fall over

 

A bottle of mercurochrome

Wings across the living room

Breaks

 

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

RSPK

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,

Satellites

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

Breathe

Light up a smoke

 

The ocean outside

Pounding the shore

Rushing in

Spilling spilling

 

 

THE NAME

I.

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

 

Shivering

 

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

 

Presence

 

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

 

YOU!

She screams

Lies pinned flat on the bed

Eyes wide open

 

PETER THE EATER

EAT MY FLESH

SHE SHE SUCK MY BLOOD

SAID SHE AND YOU DID

PETERRRR THE EATERRRR

 

Her voice sinks in rrrr’s

Animal gurgle

Wide smile

 

YOU’LL COME WITH US

YOU FREAK

YOU’LL LICK MY ARSE

AND LIKE IT

PETERRRRRRRR

 

 

II.

 

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

Windy

 

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

 

 

III.

 

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

Giggling

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

Unsteady

 

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

 

 

IV.

  

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

Repeatedly

Open page of book

 

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

 

Runs the words

Over and over

Without stop

Softly

 

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

 

 

V.

 

Speaks despairingly

Rudely

Curses

 

Parents worry

 

Rationalize:

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

Shakes

Jerking her pelvis back and forth

Foams at the mouth

Stomps on the wooden floor

And stomps

 

Bares teeth

 

 

VI.

  

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

 

Giselle!

 

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

 

Telleveryonetelleveryonetelleveryone

 

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

Giggles

 

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

 

GISELLE!

 

Tschah Peter

What’s a little Hebrew

Between you and me?

 

 

IN THE NAME OF JESUS
I COMMAND YOU TO ANSWER!

 

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

 

GISELLE!

 

No, Peter…

 

IN THE NAME OF

 

All that is Unholy a cockinacunt

Will somebody fuck me

 

I COMMAND YOU!

 

High pitched scream

 

No!

 

Shoulders, hips, thighs, feet

 


TELL ME YOUR NAME!

 

 

VII.

 

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

 

After

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

Wheelchair

Full time nurse with him

 

Last one

Took it all out of him

 

Never the same

Broken

 

Surrounded by the sea

Mountain views

Sandy and rocky coves

Wind

 

Watches waves crash

On the boulders

Retreat

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 (www.greenburger.com). 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: www.mattbialer.com He also has them collected in a book entitled MORE THAN YOU KNOW (Les Editions du Zaporogue, www.lulu.com). And – last – I have watercolor landscapes in the following books BEST OF AMERICA WATERMEDIA II and BEST OF WORLDWIDE LANDSCAPE (Kennedy Publishing).

 

 

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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 gobbetmag@hotmail.co.uk 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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