Bryan Beck


I have this out-of-control windmill arm
so the townspeople all voted
to kick me out and tie me

to this old maypole
in a field like where a real windmill might be
so I couldn’t get too close to the kids.

An old man comes around sometimes
and talks to me. “The Civil War
is everywhere,” he says.

He has independent hobbies
(wooden figurines, beekeeping).
I know he’s crazy but I trust him

when he tells me about the reflection he sees
when he drinks from the lake: him,

and behind him always,
the Monster.

Sometimes I think I could ask him
to cut the arm off for me

but I know I would miss
the both of them. Him, bringing his honey-
dripping fingers towards my mouth;

and the arm, grazing my thigh every time
when it’s almost exactly straight down.


In a corner booth of the second-best café in Heaven
the Nearly-designated Saints share a tomato bisque
that is almost really good.

They eat with their faces
just above the bowls, shaking their heads
slowly and muttering, on occasion, of their

almost-completed second miracles.
“He was a Moor,” one will say,
“I didn’t even think it would count.”

And each day the Nearly-designated Saints offer their penance
by silently waiting for the Saints to pass
on their way home from Heaven’s best café,

hollering from their cars—1963 Thunderbirds,
all of them—with brunettes and redheads clinging
to their chests and shoulders. The Nearly-designated Saints

don’t even want to know how young they are.


Fall again, and all morning
was much too bright to even believe
in such a thing as sadism.

The radios will only play Harry Nilsson.
It’s all, “I’m going where the weather
suits my clothes…” over and over.

Throughout the South and Midwest
custodians with Saturday night dreams
are filing into stadiums, posing for
Hail Marys with empty water bottles.

At the cemetery on the edge of town,

Psychologist One: “Behind
every man’s public face
there exists another face:
that of a sex pervert.”

This whole day
is here to remind me
of a classic Halloween special viewed
in the vague bleakness
of a Friday night primetime.

A golden retriever bounces past.
From the stoic elm a single leaf
trickles to the ground.

Then another.

Clouds drift past in the shapes
of calm and exotic animals, the likes
of which no one has ever seen.

Bryan Beck's poem have appeared in such places as Forklift, Ohio and Spork, as well as being included in the "It's My Decision" series on Flying Object's website.

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