4.04 / April 2009

Jangle & Sweat, Twenty-O-Eight

listen to this poem

a credo

not sick but stink
not stink but silver
not silver but slate
not slate but grate
not grate but gate
not gate but wait
not wait but water
not water but will
not will but pill
not pill but power
not power but pebble
not pebble but pillow
not pillow but fallow
not fallow but fold
not fold but fever
not fever but flee
not flee but bleed
not bleed but feed
not feed but food
not food but should
not should but shout
not shout but shoulder
not shoulder but soldier
not soldier but bone
not bone but body
not body but built
not built but stilt
not stilt but stick
not stick but sick

Dear World

listen to this poem

dear river —

if I look back I might
drown you wet din you gray
arm folded to this jagged city
where I am walking every day
because I cannot find a place
where I could be any better than now
I cannot give it up I wake
fists clenched ready to start
the day swinging


dear gravity —

sometimes a flag is just a thread
in the wind and everyone
is happier then when we met
at the intersection you went
left and I straight ahead
loyalty is full of meaningless phrases
you will know my love
in the strength of my resistance


dear caisson —

forward and fist all air
taut cables an architect’s anger
oxygen matters cells and bridges
spanning thick time I bend
deep pattern this physics
kneecap fingernail follicle
we’re all wet on the inside
water and nitrogen this city’s
cacophony I bend


dear pachyderms —

I knew you would come, finally —
your silhouettes gleaming
the dusk, the dry savannah grass
Not all will know what must
be done but I am ready
— all sight and candor —
and with your burnished tusks and your
unfurling trunks: we will tip
the world aright

Tamiko Beyer is the author of bough breaks (Meritage Press, 2011), and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, H_ngm_n, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. She is a former Kundiman Fellow, founding member of Agent 409 (a queer writing collective in New York City), and a contributing editor to Drunken Boat. Tamiko received her M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. Find her online at wonderinghome.com.