Two Poems

Poetry / Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

:: Husband Stories ::

[8]

I speak to no one from that past. ...My silence put to use
is the highest instrument. ...Now even the frost holds my
hand...I got rid of the life. ...It took all the ns to make a no.
...The distance is here. ...As for the chandelier... ...I
dig a well. ...Into the well I put many men.




[7]

There was a husband in the center of this story. ...Some
lunar waves were ringing....I got rid of the husband....
Even my ankle rejects you! ...I never told anyone, 
not really. ...The distance is here....Light in a circle 
could not save me.




[6]

Even the light has aged. ...The story does not compute.
...Some lunar waves were ringing. ...My silence put to use,
its highest instrument. ...Now even the frost holds my
hand. ...The things lost with many traces. ...I dig a well.
...Into the well I put many men. ...There are rows of
waiting others.




[5]

I speak to no one from that past. ...Some lunar waves were
ringing. ...What is left of leaves are stone. ...Now even
the frost holds my hand. ...I got rid of the life.
...If I could take it all back. ...It took all the ns to
make a no. ...Into the well I put many men. ...That husband
is gone. ...There are rows of waiting others.




[4]

The story does not compute. ...There is a husband in the
center of this story. ...What is left of leaves are stone.
...If I could take it all back. ...Even my ankle rejects
you! ...The distance is here. ...The ear up close.




[3]

The story does not compute. ...My silence put to use, its
highest instrument. ...If I could take it all back. ...Even
my ankle rejects you!. ...I never told anyone, not really.
...It took all the ns to make a no. ...The distance is
here. ...Light in a circle could not save me. ...I dig a
well. ...Into the well I put many men.




[2]

The story does not compute. ...There is a husband in the
center of this story. ...My silence put to use, its highest
instrument. ...I got rid of the husband. ...The distance is
here. ...The ear up close. ...Light in a circle could not
save me. ...I dig a well. ...That husband is gone. ...There
are rows of waiting others.




[1]

Even the light has aged. ...Some lunar waves were ringing.
...My silence put to use is its highest instrument. ...What is
left of leaves are stone. ...Real gaps spread in the tropic
of paradise. ...If I could take it all back. ...I never told
anyone, not really. ...The things lost without traces.
...It took all the ns to make a no. ...I dig a well.


 

:: Counternarratives ::

                              inspired by John Keene

                    [1]

                    ...God’s gonna trouble the water.


                    [2]

                    It was a gated community....The boy is a high school
                    student....There are rows and rows of others.


                    [3]

                    Forty-two miles from Disney....The frangipani swans 
                    in the streetlight. ...A patrol car’s siren sings several 
                    streets away.


                    [4]

                    Everything signs its name, leaves a trace. ...Real gaps
                    spread in the tropic of paradise. ...Forty-two miles 
                    from Disney....He never told anyone, but he always 
                    wanted to go to space camp.


                    [5]

                    Only the flowering catalpa trees are on watch and they
                    don’t have guns. ...The boy likes Skittles. ...Real gaps
                    spread in the tropic of paradise. ...He rides from station
                    to station until he can rest at home. ...People also ask 
                    what was he wearing....People also search for Emmett Till.


                    [6]

                    Sometimes he wakes feeling gone and doesn’t know why.
                    ...Only the flowering catalpa trees are on watch and they
                    don’t have guns. ...It was a gated community: cause of
                    death. ...He rides from station to station until he can
                    rest at a home. ...Gone with his father on a visit. ...God’s
                    gonna trouble the water. ...Bloodies the ground we stand on.


                    [7]

                    Forty-two miles from Disney....He rides from station to station
                    until he can rest at a home....Before he became someone’s
                    Halloween costume punchline, he had a name....No mention
                    made of his clothing...The warm air is a little brackish tonight.
                    ...The frangipani swims in the moonlight.... People also ask 
                    what he was wearing....He never told anyone, but he always
                    wanted to go to space camp....follow a star north.


                    [8]

                    He plays a game he knows he’s too old for: pinches the
                    moon between finger and thumb, pulls it to his lips.
                    ...Everything signs its name, leaves a trace....Real cancer
                    spreads in the tropics. ...Forty-two miles from Disney.
                    ...He rides from station to station until he can rest at
                    a home....He never told anyone, but he always wanted 
                    to go to space camp....Gone with his father on a visit 
                    and God’s gonna trouble the water.


                    [9]

                    Sometimes he wakes feeling gone and doesn’t know why.
                    ...Everything slings a trace, mouths its name....Only the
                    flowering catalpa trees are on watch and they don’t have
                    guns....It was a gated community....Cause of death.
                    ...Real gaps spread in the tropic of paradise.
                    ...Forty-two miles from disease....No mention made 
                    of his clothing. The warm air is a little brackish tonight. 
                    ...People also ask what was he wearing....He never told 
                    anyone, but he always wanted to follow a star north...


                    [10]

                    He plays a game he knows he’s too old for: pinches the
                    moon between finger and thumb, pulls it to his lips.
                    ...Sometimes he wakes feeling gone and doesn’t know why.
                    ...Only the flowering catalpa trees are on watch and they
                    don’t have guns. ...Real treasons spread in the gaps of
                    paradise....Before he became someone’s Halloween costume
                    punchline, he had a name. ...The frangipani swans in the
                    streetlight. ...Several weeks away, a patrol siren sings...
                    People also ask: what was he wearing?...If God’s 
                    gonna trouble the water.


                    [11]

                    Only the flowering catalpa trees are on watch and none
                    of them brought a gun....Causes of death:...The boy is a high
                    school student....The boy likes Skittles....Feel gaps
                    spread in the tropic of paradise. ...Forty-two miles from Disney.
                    ...Before he became someone’s Halloween costume punchline,
                    he had a name....No mention made of his clothing. Brackish air
                    tonight stings with a little sweetness....A patrol car’s siren
                    sings several streets away....People also ask: what really happened?
                    ...He never told anyone, but he always wanted to go to space
                    camp....But God’s gonna trouble the water, bloody the
                    lawn he stands on.


                    [12]

                    Sometimes he wakes feeling not really here, not knowing
                    why it was a gated community. ...The boy is a high school
                    student. ...The boy likes Skittles. ...Real gaps peel
                    apart the treads of paradise. ...He rides through all the houses
                    before he can rest at home...Before he became
                    someone’s Halloween costume punchline, he had a name.
                    ...The frangipani stitches up the streetlight. ...A patrol
                    car’s siren swats bugs and halos away. ...He never told
                    anyone, but he always wanted to go to space camp. ...Gone
                    with his father on a visit to follow a star north.
                    ...People also search for Emmett Till. ...Stand on
                    bloody laws....There are rows and rows of others.


                    [13]















                    [14]

                    He plays a game he knows he’s too old for: pinches 
                    the moon between finger and thumb, drinks it through his lips.
                    ...Sometimes he wakes feeling gone. He reaches 
                    for why everything sings its name, traces its leave...Gaps
                    split open the tropic of paradise...The sea air brackets
                    him tonight...People also ask: what really happened?
                    Before he became the punchline to a costume, swans
                    of frangipani backlit him in the night. A siren signs

                    several streets away. Cause of death: It was a gated
                    community.... Gone with his father on a visit.... 
                    People also ask: what was he wearing? He never told anyone,
                    but he always wanted to go to space camp. God
                    wasn’t near the water. 
	                         People also search for: Emmett Till. 



 

From the writer

:: Account ::

//Husband Sto­ries

The Python code is adapt­ed from Nick Montfort’s “Through the Park” code (#!, Coun­ter­path, 2014). This code gen­er­ates sto­ries by ran­dom­ly omit­ting dif­fer­ent sen­tences from a pre­pared list through each iter­a­tion. The out­put has been edit­ed and arranged. Nick’s imple­men­ta­tion and the code can be found in #! and on his web­site: http://nickm.com/poems/through_the_park.py

//Counternarratives

This poem is for Trayvon Mar­tin, a black teenag­er shot and killed by a neigh­bor­hood res­i­dent. He died on Feb­ru­ary 26, 2012.

The title of this piece is from John Keene’s book of short sto­ries Coun­ternar­ra­tives (New Direc­tions, 2017).

The Python code is adapt­ed from Nick Montfort’s “Through the Park” code (#!, Coun­ter­path, 2014). This code gen­er­ates sto­ries by ran­dom­ly omit­ting dif­fer­ent sen­tences from a pre­pared list through each iter­a­tion. The out­put has been edit­ed and arranged. Nick’s imple­men­ta­tion and the code can be found in #! and on his web­site: http://nickm.com/poems/through_the_park.py

 

Lil­lian-Yvonne Bertram is the author of the forth­com­ing book Trav­es­ty Gen­er­a­tor (Noe­mi Press), and pre­vi­ous books Per­son­al Sci­ence (Tupe­lo Press, 2017), a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press, 2016)and But a Storm is Blow­ing From Par­adise (Red Hen Press, 2012).