Beth Ann Fennelly
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With elegant wordplay and her usual subversive wit, Beth Ann Fennelly explores the "unmentionable"—not only what is considered too bold but also what can't be said because words are insufficient. In sections of short narratives, she questions our everyday human foibles. Three longer sequences display her admirable reach and fierce intelligence: One, "The Kudzu Chronicles," is a rollicking piece about the transplanted weed. Another, "Bertha Morisot: Retrospective," conjures up a complex life portrait of the French impressionist painter. The third presents fifteen dream songs that virtually out-Berryman Berryman.
anything, do you boast of it? as she watched, the guitarist lowered his face to the mouth of the guitar 6. Do you despise other people’s appetites? like you’d eat a soft-finned fruit 7. Do you think we should try to curb our appetites? if you couldn’t bear, that is, to waste the juice 8. Do you look forward to the time when old age will diminish your appetites? those were days she spent picking muscat grapes, hitchhiking the Costa Brava 9. Do you think old age will diminish your
My Poems When She’s 16,” and “First Warm Day in a College Town” were reprinted in Efforts & Affections: Women Poets on Mentorship, edited by Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker (University of Iowa Press). “The Kudzu Chronicles” was published as a limited-edition chapbook by Crown Ring Press, 2006. Colorplate 14 of “Berthe Morisot: Retrospective” was printed as a broadside by the Center for the Book Arts as a finalist for the Chapbook Prize. Thanks to Bret Lott and The Southern Review for allowing
bike. THE MOMMY AT THE ZOO I used to sleep better I used to be smarter remember for example words and remember when I learned them there was a word for example for the way a snake loves a tight place a crevice a chink in rocks now the word won’t answer though my daughter knocks the python sleeps tight in his glass hut the word has slipped my mind between a rock and a hard place Mr. Snake you you are a . . . a something-o-phile O you sneaky . . . something-o-phile . . . I
of their shoulders thundered the ground and we’d feel it through our feet as we ran, whooping, me nearly wetting my pants with adrenaline and fear— those cows could toss me like a sack of trash, snap my bones like balsa, though mostly what they did was roll to their stomachs, shake their stupid heads, unfold their forelegs, heave-ho to their feet. By then we’d be racing home, taking curves so fast we’d slam against the doorframe, turn up the Springsteen, me on some guy’s knees, dew-slick,
can’t understand why I can’t understand why whole countries hate our country. Because of our bemused affection for our youthful cruelties. Because the smug postprandial of nostalgia coats the tongue. Somehow, despite the planes clearing fields of cows and flying into buildings full of red-blooded Americans, it’s still so hard to accept that people who’ve never seen me would like to see me dead, and you as well. Our fat babies. Our spoiled dogs. And I, a girl at thirty-two, who likes to