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About this poet

Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves (W. W. Norton, 2015); I Was the Jukebox (W. W. Norton, 2010), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008), winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. In 2015 she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa.

 

American Rome

            Marion “Shepilov” Barry, Jr. (1936-2014)

Marionberry:   jams of Washington                                                 
state. I thought they were mocking this city.
Take a mayor and boil his sugar down—                                          
spoon-spreadable, sweet. We take presidents
and run them in a game’s fourth-inning stretch.
We take Bullets and turn them to Sea Dogs.                                   

Do you remember that ballot? Sea Dogs
Dragons   Stallions   Express
. The Washington
Wizards was no more or less of a stretch.
We wave gavels like wands in this city.
We’re the small town in which a president
can plant some roses. Each time I sit down                                     

to try and say goodbye, all I write down
is Dear City. My neighbor walks his dogs
past a monument to a president’s
terrier, forever bronzed. Washington
has no J Street, no Z, yet the city
maps attend to fifty states and a stretch                                          

of five blocks NE Metro track—a stretch
named Puerto Rico Avenue. Bow down
to the unmapped names: Chocolate City,
Simple City. Ben serves up chili dogs
through a riot, and Walter Washington
is the first and last time a president                                                 

picks our mayor. The truth is, presidents
come and go, four or eight years at a stretch.
Barry said, I’m yours for life, Washington;
Emperor Marion, who could get down
with Chuck Brown. Later, reporters will dog
his Bitch set me up, his graft. Dear City,                                          

will you let me claim you as my city?
To love you is to defy precedent.
Your quadrants hustle like a pack of dogs
around the hydrant Capitol. They stretch
and paw, they yap and will not settle down.
Traffic:   the berry to Washington’s jam.                                         

For city miles, Barry’s motorcade stretched.
We laid him among vice presidents, down
where the dogs seek congress in Washington.

Copyright © 2016 Sandra Beasley. This poem originally appeared in The Mackinac, Summer 2016. Used with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2016 Sandra Beasley. This poem originally appeared in The Mackinac, Summer 2016. Used with permission of the author.

 

Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves (W. W. Norton, 2015); I Was the Jukebox (W. W. Norton, 2010), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008), winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. In 2015 she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa.

 

by this poet

poem
Little bastards of vine.
Little demons by the pint.
Red eggs that never hatch,
just collapse and rot. When

my mom told me to gather
their grubby bodies
into my skirt, I'd cry. You 
and your father, she'd chide—

the way, each time I kicked 
and wailed against sailing, 
my dad shook his head, said
You and your
poem

Fireflies, Col. Glenn calls them—
banging the capsule’s wall to prove
their movement. This
will be the gesture Hollywood

claims as history—how space
dazzles even the seasoned airman,
maddens like Titania’s touch.
The movie version sees

what he sees: Florida yawn,

poem
For six months I dealt Baccarat in a casino. 
For six months I played Brahms in a mall. 
For six months I arranged museum dioramas;
my hands were too small for the Paleolithic
and when they reassigned me to lichens, I quit. 
I type ninety-one words per minute, all of them 
Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal