He took two trains
to get to this repopulated bistro

Through paragraphs rising
in hopelessly rectilinear slums

where the smell of cooking
friction dominates throughout

The meal structures
their disappointment

The grits look disinfected
and the béchamel gives off

a prepositional scent
of warranties and weak acids

He asks how she is
and she mouths okay

with the finality
in a misspelled epitaph

He’s fairly certain she doesn’t
mean Oll Korrect or any other

wrecked phonetic
from 1800’s slang

He curls reflexively into
the Dented Beer Can Defense

he learned on the yeasty streets
of Milwaukee’s downward mobility

He’s been lost ever since
he saw her with a death’s head

on her parasol and scented
the conscripted vanilla

over the pulse points in her wrists
Now all the plot has boiled off

Can’t they just relax into being sad
Together they used to make

one thing mean a thousand
Now they will say anything

to talk over the bass note
of Get the hell away from me

making all the tumblers
in their biology itch

Dessert is a honeycomb’s cypher
draped on a flash-frozen fig

and he longs for the late-night

in the bound pot roast
For its comforting luggage

and the dilapidated taste
of its fatty transit


Simeon Berry Somerville, MA (March 2014) #1Simeon Berry lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. He has been an Associate Editor for Ploughshares and received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist Grant. His first book, Ampersand Revisited (Fence Books), won the 2013 National Poetry Series, and his second book, Monograph (University of Georgia Press), wonthe 2014 National Poetry Series.

These poems are from Nix, a book-length sequence I recently completed, which serves as the refracted biography of a doppelganger figure, a textual interloper drawn involuntarily into various genres and archetypes as he struggles with both narrative and gender instability. Other poems from the sequence can be found hereherehereherehere and here.

1 Comment

  1. matthew yeager

    Nice work!!! “The grits look disinfected” is a great line…