Ben Mazer: 2 Poems

Do not consume, like the flowers, time and air §

  Ben Mazer

  Two poems

  ‘Sonnet’, and ‘At the Altar’
  Sonnet

The sun burns beauty, spins the world away,
though now you sleep in bed, another day
brisk on the sidewalk, in your camel coat,
in another city, wave goodbye from a boat,
or study in an archival library,
like Beethoven, and thought is prodigy.
Do not consume, like the flowers, time and air
or worm-soil, plantings buried in the spring,
presume over morning coffee I don’t care,
neglect the ethereal life to life you bring.
O I would have you now, in all your glory,
the million-citied, Atlantic liner story
of what we were, would time come to forget
being so rich and passing, and yet not covet.

  At the Altar

The wedding was fantastically rich;
immediate family only; I would be his bitch…
He watched the guests with pleasure in the garden;
we sank in shadows; I could feel him harden…
I sit in an Episcopalian church,
and hear his voice as he exclaims and boasts
how I am like some certain branch of birch
that’s good for whippings, then he smiles and coasts
out of the room, to darkness and the night…
He sounds so happy that my soul takes fright;
his friends are famous ghosts, all famous ghosts.
But how can you argue with a famous ghost
when he’s possessed; I take the Eucharist,
scared by the watching nun, the smiling priest,
and see Christ’s holy robes of purple blood
rippling and rising past my widowhood,
and weeping outside fall into the mud
as all the holy pass me going home;
my mind is racing, and it wants to roam
back to New Haven, thoughts not making sense…
is Hell a women’s center? Far away
the nuns are watching while the children play
with jacks like crucifixes at St. Mary’s,
my alma mater that I have displaced
with His decisions; always trust in Ken’s
uncanny stares that fix you with incisions;
O my God, to be a piece of wood…
He spoke more nonsense, but I understood…
I thought I heard him say I was a chicken…
He thinks I’m just another of his chickens…
Roast me in Hell; and this is life on earth…
I whisper in his ear that I’ll give birth
to Satan; the Birth of Satan, that’s a laugh…
He won’t be happy till I’m sawed in half
and Satan’s Son is fished out on a spike…
My mirror looks like just another dyke
for him to plug; each Satan is a thug…
He smiles and pisses coffee on the rug
for me to clean, while he goes out to fuck…
O Mary, Mary, help me, I am stuck;
O Mary, Mary, I am out of luck…
Will Mary marry Jesus, and then suck
my brain out of his ass, and kiss his muck?
Christ the Impaler has you on the floor,
spits on the walls, and motors out the door…
I’m dizzy, London Bridge is falling down…
He married me to be His maid and clown…
I am his whore for life, His Sunday clown…
There is no one in the world can frown
a frown like His; escapes are all shot down…
O Mary, my experience has shown…
but you can’t hear me; Satan’s being blown.
Life comes from mud; I lie in it and cry.
O Jesus, Mary, how I want to die…
The bricks are falling, I am falling in…
Tall buildings, glass and brick, can’t save my skin…
The bells are breaking, and I’m falling in…
O Jesus, Mary, how I want to die…

 

Poet Ben Mazer, photo by Thomas Graves.
Poet Ben Mazer, photo by Thomas Graves.
 

Ben Mazer was born in New York City in 1964, and educated at Harvard University, where he studied with Seamus Heaney, and at Boston University, where he studied under Christopher Ricks and the English poet Geoffrey Hill. His several books of poems include Poems (2010), The Glass Piano (2015), December Poems (2016), and February Poems, forthcoming from the Grolier Poetry Press. He is the editor of The Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom (Un-Gyve Press, 2015) and Selected Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (Harvard University Press, 2010). He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and is the Editor of The Battersea Review.

 

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