Erin Bealmear

Lesson Learned

If you think that if you tell a man
that you wrote a poem about him
and that it’s going to be published
in some fan­cy lit­er­ary magazine,
like The New Yorker,
and that this bit of information
will some­how make him adore you,
that he will read those 14 lines
that you com­posed and immediately
tat­too your name across his chest,
you are wrong, because he won’t.
Trust me. It’s all a bunch of crap.
Grand roman­tic gestures,
like this one, only work
in the movies.


Film Therapy 101

The samu­rai pierces his abdomen while the oth­ers watch,
forced to com­mit harakiri with a bam­boo blade,
the tor­ture is evi­dent as he struggles
to drag the toy-like sword across his middle.
It is at times like these, while watching
this Japanese samu­rai picture,
when I real­ize that my life isn’t quite as dra­ma filled
as I imag­ine it.
I’m not a des­ti­tute warrior,
made to slice myself open
with not much more than a glo­ri­fied stick.
I have not wit­nessed the accu­mu­la­tion of tragedies.
I have not had to live through
the dev­as­ta­tion of knowing
that my wife and my son are slow­ly dying
of ill­ness. I have not succumbed
to humil­i­a­tion in hope of sav­ing them.
I have nev­er been chased by zombies
that could win marathons, if only they would stop
eat­ing their fel­low runners.
Nor am I the most tal­ent­ed member
of an all female singing group, cru­el­ly pushed out,
because I wasn’t pret­ty enough, left
in a post-riot, apoc­a­lyp­tic Detroit
while the oth­ers bought mansions.
I live in America, in the twen­ty-first century,
the great­est time and place to be a human being,
espe­cial­ly if you have breasts,
and I’m glad I’m here,
and not the wife of a French mob­ster, shot to death
because I wouldn’t rat on my husband
and tell the rival gang that they should unscrew
the lamp, if they want­ed to find the jewels.
This isn’t France, cir­ca 1950
or Japan dur­ing the Edo period.
This is the mod­ern Midwest
and I don’t have to take any shit
from anyone.


Soothing the Savage Beast

Every time I pass a road kill carcass,
a rac­coon, a back­yard ani­mal who washes
it’s din­ner before eat­ing, now limp
in the gut­ter, or a skunk, leak­ing perfume,
dark eyed and crushed between lanes,
every time I dri­ve by, I cross myself,
the way I did in church, after a prayer,
the father, the son, and the holy ghost
briefly rid­ing shot­gun in my Sentra,
not because I’m reli­gious, which I am not,
but because I just can’t look at death softly.
I need to do some­thing to calm the familiar
sick­ness and it feels, in those moments,
like the prop­er thing to do.


Waiting Room

I reached
my hand
your underpants
because it was something
to do
and I needed
to do something.