from Issue #3: Poetry by Shaindel Beers (II)

Photo (CC) Martin Cathrae @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Martin Cathrae @ Flickr

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3.22 Miles, 32 Minutes, 10/02/12

First run through crush of leaves.
Featherlight piles of aspen, yellow litter
of locust. My runner’s mantra in time
with my breath – Breathing in, I calm myself;
Breathing out, I smile.
 Calming.
Smiling. The long history of runners without
this luxury. Bare feet that have slipped through sand.
Booted feet skimming or crunching through snow.
In some languages feet are the hands that touch
the ground. The way the potato is the apple
of the earth. The heel strike. The push off
the ball of the foot. The scenery. The grey horse
on the dun hill, which another runner may see
as sniper distance. The truck exhaust, which,
Thank God, isn’t the smoke of burning bodies
or villages. The boy I pass at the school bus stop might
in another world be holding a rifle, a machete,
instead of a lunchbox. I have this luxury to utter
mantras. Slow is the new fast. To wear out
hundred dollar shoes every 300 miles. To stop
when I want. Slow when I want. Search
for the deer on the ridge with the eyes
of the curious, not the starving.
If I say I am running for my life it is merely
a metaphor about health. A pithy saying
painted on a gym wall. I am lucky.
There is no heart pound of the pursuer
behind me. Just me. Just the foot strikes.
Just breath.

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ABOUT THE POET

Shaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary (http://contrarymagazine.com). A Brief History of Time, her first full-length poetry collection, was released by Salt Publishing in 2009. Her most recent collection, The Children’s War and Other Poems, was released by Salt in February this year. She is currently working on a short story collection. Find out more at http://shaindelbeers.com .

from Issue #3: Poetry by Shaindel Beers (I)

Photo (CC) Rafał Próchniak @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Rafał Próchniak @ Flickr

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After Origin Story by Jessica Plattner

Our people believed that the earth rode on the back
of a giant turtle until we felt the sway of the man’s hips.
The rocking of his stride tumbled our homes.
Because turtles are steady, we knew we would have
to change our tale. The turtle’s slow lumber had been erased,
but we wanted to keep him. The youth suggested
we make him the man’s dinner. So, the man pushed
up out of the green algae, pressing the turtle
from him. Offering him to the sky – a prayer
before soup. Then our keenest warrior heard
a gurgle. The women agreed, and we stretched our sights
further. There, on the pale belly of the turtle
sat an enormous baby – our dreaded dictator, our god.

After Milkpour #5 by Jessica Plattner

First his cries panicked the horses.
Stall doors kicked down. Fences cleared.
No horses, no plowing. No plowing, no food.
So the men vowed to kill the enormous baby.
No! shrieked the women. What if he is a god?
What if the mountains are the breasts
that nourished him? No matter that he was here
in the village far from the mountains.
The women appointed themselves his mothers,
brought bucketfuls of milk from sheep, goats, cows,
hand expressed their own breasts. Made his clothes
from whole fields of cotton and flax.
The enormous baby became the white elephant
who would ruin our village.
Sometimes the path to destruction is saving
the one it takes too much to save.  

Friends, 1991

After Ken Fontenot

We were desperate sex in girls’ bodies.
We were girls mothers warned sons about.
We were handcuffed together to a bed at a party.
Sent home together in a cab from a field trip.
We were barns burning for anyone’s love.
We were lonely walks to the cemetery to talk to graves.
Blowjobs behind tombstones. Always hoping
to get caught. Always dreaming of escape.
We were talks on the hood of a car. Dreaming
up early dramatic deaths. Scared shitless
of ending up pregnant or poor or fat
or all three. We were learning to drive
a stick shift on gravel roads while eating
ice cream. Flirting for freebies from sweaty,
nervous boys at restaurants. We couldn’t have
lived any different. We couldn’t have saved
one another. We were just trying to survive
the only way we knew how.

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ABOUT THE POET

Shaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary (http://contrarymagazine.com). A Brief History of Time, her first full-length poetry collection, was released by Salt Publishing in 2009. Her most recent collection, The Children’s War and Other Poems, was released by Salt in February this year. She is currently working on a short story collection. Find out more at http://shaindelbeers.com