Scott Beal

One Body

one body is too
meager to

the starfields inside
us, but one
is all

we’re given, one is
all we get
to shape

out of smithereens scraped
from regiments
of grand

and great great great,
one focused

one echo of the legacies of
lizard and Pan prior,
its shared

symmetries, orbits to
Achilles, parts
we cannot

choose but can round
or flatten, bulk
or bruise—

we are what we touch,
the hormones
we shoot,

the stones we drop or
lift, each choice

our shape and leaves
behind our every

probable body, the pinwheel
of history and sensation
whirling through

our thirty-seven trillion cells
pruned to one
point, one

that or not-this, polished
smooth by luck
and enzyme

and the slim region of earthtime
into which we’re spat,
the light and

heat our pores suck
in, roughnesses
filing down

our facets, the models and
mobs who back us

lockers, who teach us to
steep our tongues
in stillness

or choose the crook
of just one jaw
to settle

them, and there are
matched pairs
of hands

who will clasp our skulls and
bring them hard in
for a kiss or

hard into a raised steel
pole for differing
and spring

a spray of our
blood from

the single well into which
we have found
our girlboy

cascades with straps and
buckles finally


Between Acts There Will Be A Brief Intermission

I woke and felt
the blood fill my mouth
and couldn't sleep, placed
my hands against
the skin of her back
turned away
felt the blood inside
its warmth into my palms
and rose
to fill a glass of sparkling
water, the light
of the fridge poured
around and cast
my shadow into the sink
with the dishes
and none of us ever heard
how Mike died
if he dragged out
the pain with pills
or rope, the last time
I saw him
the lid was closed
so I couldn't sift
his ashes with my fingers
not that Mike had
been a friend
I would touch like
that, there's an empty
champagne bottle
on the table
and another
in the sink where
my shadow has been
I have such luck waiting
in the bed to turn
into my body until the sun
makes us squint
into a world without Mike
or Bob or Spencer
in it, though I
crack with gladness
that it does
still cross with the shadows
of Jeff and
Maggie and Jea, who
a trick of will or blind
luck brought back
to suffer longer yes
but not to
suffer merely
I stepped out to light
a fire in my teeth
and couldn't keep the spring
from creaking
I don't want to rock the barge
I don't want to stir
my luck, the last time
I talked really
talked to Mike he’d been
kicked out, he knew
I’d been kicked out
and thought I’d understand
which I did as much
I guess as anyone can
not knowing how he did it
shouldn't make my teeth
grind me out of sleep
my luck’s neighbor is cursing
into the raised
hatch of his minivan
a lone bird lays claim
to the dark, you never
know what's happening
in anyone's head
or how long it will last



SCOTT BEAL is the author of Wait 'Til You Have Real Problems (Dzanc Books, 2014) and the chapbook The Octopus (Gertrude Press, 2016).  His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Cincinnati Review, Forklift Ohio, Vinyl, and Paper Darts, among other journals. He teaches in the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan and serves as Dzanc Writer-in-Residence at Ann Arbor Open School.