Two Poems

February 21, 2019
A sculpted bust of the minotaur, who seems boyish and frail
Mercè Cañadell, The Young Minotaur and Ariadne / Photo by William Murphy

Night Shift at the Globe

I am the Master Leafblower, a.k.a. Tornado in Rags:
Sopped, half dizzy, ears plugged with rubber,
Ankles bone to bone, all for a scree of drunken leaves.
They say the place fills with three thousand souls,
All the way around to the two-penny galleries
Where leaves chigger into thick mats in the crannies
Under benches reserved for powdered prigs and pedants
Who leave clove and jasmine sketches in the air.
Hardest to blow is the yard plastered with beer and shells,
Sprung buttons, false teeth, greasy pennies
And leaves stick to the arras as if double-stitched
To woven palace scenes, idyllic streams,
And the distant strange trees of Burnham Wood
Sterning against the blast as if gripped with hands.


Strophes from the Minotaur

Mother, I see you under a phallic sun:
Crown of Crete, Isle of the Blessed,
Isle of Tillers and Horny Cattlemen
And your mattress the victim of deadpan rocks
            in league with birds, in league with birds.

I see you lustpotting a man:
He sprints into the ghost wheat
Above Souda Bay for the cliff, for the seamless
Turning of eels, and you drop him by an ankle and pull
            the bull mask over his head, over his head.

You fix on the eucalyptus shadows jiving
His chest like a lyre, a child in a forest
Of taffy strings, whether to play or eat a golden color
You climax and mosquitoes fall into drifts
             of black snow, black snow.

After your many pleasures, the obligatory cigarette
And the confession born of brume: my gorgeous father,
His brooding black eyes strummed with comets, his
Cashmere withers whiter than the snows of Ida, now
             only suicides will do, only suicides, Mother.

Stephen Eric Berry is a filmmaker, composer, and a recipient of a Jule and Avery Hopwood Award at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared in Salamander, Soundings East, Puerto del Sol, California Quarterly, Sukoon, and The Ilanot Review. In 2017 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to be a visiting scholar at the “Emily Dickinson: Person, Poetry and Place” workshops at Amherst College. In the summer of 2018, his film Clogged Only with Music, Like the Wheels of Birds was screened at the Emily Dickinson International Society annual meeting in Amherst. He lives in Chelsea, Michigan.