Spring/Fall 2020

PORTRAIT IN HEAT WAVE

by Hallie Beard

I pull a sprig from a vitex tree and explain
the anaphrodisiac quality of the lavender’s lowly

doppelgänger to my sweating parents. My mother
says wonderful, complains of her hair. Stained

wood, industrial lighting, and the biscuits
could be better. We sip coke from miniature glass

bottles and leave the straws lying like felled
swords. We swelter, meander on the uneven

pavement. My father steadies himself with his cell
phone. There is the skin cancer, the knees, the silver

flip of a cataract in the sun. They warn me
against speed purchased at the grocery store

disguised as weight loss supplements. None
of us, we decide, are falling apart.

the lyric you has a problem

the lyric you has been down lately. actually, the lyric you was born sad—some yous are. it’s just the way it happened. but the lyric you is grown and has grown problems. so the lyric you gets a fat pill. the lyric you wants to fall in love and have good sex and make good little lyric yous. but the lyric you can’t begin because the pill kills sex drive. so the lyric you gets a new pill to cut the numbing effects of the other. the lyric you will not suffer any discontinuation symptoms if this does not work out. the lyric you is doing pretty well with the routine and the canceled out numbness and is getting off and on ok with other lyric personae that frolic or trudge through the poem. some of the lyric personae really don’t want to be seen, or be tagged as lyric yous. labels, says the lyric i. the lyric you is getting more energy these days, is getting out of bed, going on walks to the toilet, and to the park, and to the baking aisle at k mart, and is crying, just sometimes. that is a good thing. but now the lyric you can’t sleep due to an insomnia of chemical arrest. the lyric you takes a pill to help close its eyes and fall into a hole. the lyric you sometimes has nightmares in which the lyric i comes into the poem, does something with a hand or rib, some poetic limb, leaves something like a scent or vapor. the lyric you really eats this shit up, but the nightmares leave the lyric you with an impending sense of doom. it is hard to wake from these unnervings, so the lyric you needs another pill to get up in the mornings, and several herbal supplements to help with the natural circadian rhythms. the lyric you begins to shake because of the new pills and its figurative heart races too much so it gets a sweet script to lower the galloping of the figurative heart into a slow wash of hot jam in a pot. the lyric you stands over this figurative pot, watching the jam bubble, saying, hey that’s my heart, very seriously. eventually the lyric you gets tired of just standing over the stove like this and goes to lie down. and in time the wash becomes a sputter, becomes a wash again, becomes a cry for the lyric i or any persona, becomes a dead gallop through the wall, the sound of a hand leaving another. the lyric you is trying really hard.

State of the Union

if there was snow to be had, it’s here
in my stupid little heart. i’m in the mood
for a little belief that a threat now n then
does me good and god             said leave
the room unleavened for once.
                                                          it’s a new year
but it might as well be springsteen
on the radio at a shopping mall
in our hometown             in december. this
is necessary education: the one time
i get a boy to kiss me in a hammock,
he slaps me in the face.            what
can i say? i’m weepish. i’m went. spent
well on.            adamant on gin and tonics
being banished from this old earth. bent
on highlights and new lipstick, getting tired
all the time.
                                    i’m falling in love
with my health professionals and going up
a size in brassieres.            i’m becoming
a selfish person, but with you            as my witness,
i’d give my eternity            for a short bowl
of flowers on the hall table,            a flashing
light            on the answering machine.


Hallie Beard holds an MFA from The University of Mississippi and is a Louisville, Kentucky native. Her work appears or is forthcoming in CutBankPoet Lore, and elsewhere. You can find her teaching English and making quilts somewhere in Kentucky.  

Spring/Fall 2020