BEDS cover


Catherine Bowman

Copyright © 2010 Catherine Bowman. All rights reserved.

BEDS [Beds. Trunk beds in cabins]

Beds. Trunk beds in cabins
and in trees, narrow
holsters, beds of thorns,
palatial subterranean
nests, root cellar and potato cellars. Coal bins
and holes. Beds stuffed with horsehair
or money or little hurts—
Day beds for fainting on and sipping a vial of his song.
Chamber for affairs—brief ones—
where you list the attributes of the betrayer
while unbuttoning his shirt.
Nursery beds with forepaws,
and tailored extremities,
hybrid creatures,
high above the planet,
floating altars
in the fog bow arbor
we used to call the soul—
Hospital beds and prison cots. Place to make lists
and renounce common courtesies,
to plot the holy of holies.
Scratch beds. Elemental
beds. Beds for torture.
For hard labor. For repose.
Blue and green beds.
Where the bulbs rest.
Where he slept after
a long day at the track.

BEDS [Labrador to hide teeth and centimes]

Labrador to hide teeth and centimes,
for healing and work
as in a dream.
Primal claw feet
where we lounge, sprawl,
puff on cigars
slay ourselves,
admit curiosity,
grovel and prophesize,
heave and hove, dream
of paradise and his
path of opposites.
Evangelical mirror.
The mistaken bed, the wrong couch, the errata mattress,
sack of false moves, omission dock, forged levee.
Goose-shaped ocarina severed from a cold calendar.
A life sentence tucked under a pillow.
Cleft. Fissure. Chasm.
Deposit door.

BEDS [Dear Sir]

Dear Sir,
Over bite

BEDS [A reference point w/o borders]

A reference point w/o borders,
apportioned for the starring—
Warped seismic theology,
flown through the stationary
aperture, sustenance for hard time—
torn for life. Knocked full of you.

BEDS [On the seashores of Lindisfarne]

On the seashores of Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne oyster beds.
Smoked Loch Etive eel.
Beer x 10. Renewal realm, ridges of sheets.
Static alchemy…this field of sunflowers—
Monday: Laundry
Tuesday: Groceries
Wednesday: Change the sheets
The dog outside in his dogbed
Outside the dog in his dogbed
A hotel in Liege. The great blue heron's bed.
My mother and father's giant bed
where I slept with my brother
and we played the game of opposites.
The back room episode, the canopied secret, cervical unmade beds.
Recuperated beds turned into instruments.
Shape notes and symphony,
hymnology and musical comedy. Dirges and po—emes.
Tangos and birdsong beds,
yodel and chant, hurrah and bawl,
yammer and squawk,
sound box and sounding board.
Aeolian bed, ukulele bed,
Humming top, organ loft, carillon,
tabla and nickel Odeon,
Long-playing record.
Joracho harp.
Joracho harp.
His bass.
Bed #3

BEDS [On the right side starboard]

On the right side starboard,
and on the left my old dresser,
six sided parabolic gospel
cradle, weather wheel,
weather sheets, weather deck
edged with cloud skin,
spy skin, skirt cop. Beds we flee
from, say our prayers, bolt out of, vacant beds,
sweet beds with nervy refractions,
hospital beds and charity beds,
orphan beds aviary beds,
attic beds, urine stained beds, stables,
solid watery beds, side by side,
cheek by cheek, jowl by jowl.
Toss and turn, catch forty winks,
old-fashioned slumber and cat nap,
gulf cove beds, our bed a staircase
and a hidden room, made mostly
of heaven and some-ly of hell.
Beds we ride—
The sheriff across the plains.
Hood, duet, saddle.
Giddy up.
Giddy up.
Giddy up.

BEDS [Glottology. I am in your bed now. Eye]

Glottology. I am in your bed now. Eye
doctor. Inventor of instruments and alphabets.
You want to paint my eyes. I see my body repeat in the chandelier.
I twinned myself, at every turn, because you told me you liked double serpents.
In your bed: Left over verbiage, equinox gate, lost psalm found—
The five-eight beat between the orbital moon and Venus. You played
me so well only charming things came out of my mouth bed.
You practiced the art of gluttony. Our Pulpit and platform w/o regard to sect.
Chiasm. Rind.
Insect eye. In the chandelier.
Mouth Doctor.
How can I compare thee to the ocean's surface?
You told me how she contrived to share your father's bed.
Nuptial hymn. Inventors of a new zodiac.
Flipping through the cable channels at the Marriot.
Naked as jay birds. In the heat.
Boxing area. Revival picnic. Floating casements.
Prosody of trees, roots in the lowest ring of hell,
mid-branches our bed.
Sweaty underarms.
I wanted to add something more about beds, what is it?
And rocks collected at the breakwater—
Site for debris, ancient mythology, amphitheatre, cracker crumbs.
Where I tell you I am free, but am too busy to be free.
And now please, join me
in my small sentimental
museum of beds.

BEDS [What we want. What]

What we want. What
we want. To want.
What we want and and
what we want to want.

BEDS [Little fish tacos, greenhouses and celestial radio.]

Little fish tacos, greenhouses and celestial radio.
In our tent bed, tethered to hive and wind—
june july and august
Jelly. Jelly. Jelly.
Vast narrows. Cradled cosmology.
The hidden room where you are good at stealing dice,
and saying goodnight.
Good night.
The museum bed where you wander without him—
Weather deck bound with cloud
Regal four-posters sold in vast department stores.
Show rooms of mattresses.
Shrouded beds in the Avenue of Genies.
Alley beds. Recycled beds.
Truth tables.
Rocking in the hull
This is my half and this is your half—
The invisible line down the middle—
Stretch limo.
Limestone slab and curvature

BEDS [Underwater rosary]

Underwater rosary
Jury box and DJ booth
Jukebox you play that plays you
The dos and the don'ts that you count off
when you are hot on the trail—
Suspect beds.
Two snakes kiss in a ball of tangled roots.
And what about Egyptian beds?
Right and then left past pastry shop, haze and bistro,
Labyrinths. Fields of beds, place to flee from.
Correct the record. Take secrets to the grave.
Place to prosecute, to bring to justice,
to try yourself at night.
The empty space beside you
like a cold war spy.
To gorge on crispy duck
in bed. To be greased. To be de-greased.
Recessed niche
where you rub the handle of a gun
or a letter opener.
The common shape you form
on the common prayer.
Tell me a story
he says, in bed.

Catherine Bowman

Catherine Bowman teaches at Indiana University and is the author of the poetry collections The Plath Cabinet (Four Way Books), Notarikon (Four Way Books), Rock Farm (Gibbs Smith), and 1-800-HOT-RIBS (Gibbs Smith) which was reissued by Carnegie-Mellon University Press as part of its contemporary classics series. She is the editor of Word of Mouth: Poems Featured on NPR's All Things Considered. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Ploughshares, the Harvard Review, and The Best American Poetry Series.