Keepers (8)

By: Steph Burt
July 27, 2016

One in a series republishing 10 poems — about everyday objects and pop culture avatars — by HiLobrow friend and contributor Steph Burt.

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Blue-Morning-Glory-September-2013-2

PERSEPHONE (UNPLUGGED)

I wake in the dark. My face is a stunned
Cathode ray tube, a pomegranate
Unharmed. If I were a girl, I would be a girl.
I hate my career, I want to go home
To Avonlea. I am a tortoise shell,
A bell on an alarm clock, a Les Paul.
There are rarely men in my dreams.

The fear in your eyes is no less real
For having bounded up from Ariel
Than the disappointed stars on the movie
      channel.
If I were only a girl, I could give you a hand.

Each afternoon the off-white trumpet-
      flowers
I just miss touching on my way home from
      work
Crumple like pillowcases, like antique
      gloves.
It must be the dew that lifts them
Before first light: clarinet, English horn,
Querulous soprano saxophone.
They are the hills in “Sheep in Fog,”
Tight-lipped in their straight lines.

There are rarely men in my dreams.
One time I became the famous skyscraper
Whose windows littered Boston during
      storms,
A sparkling skirt spiraling through updrafts.

I wake in the dark. The battle of frogs and
      mice
Continues under my floorboards.
Somebody from Reuters is there with a big
      flashlight
And a microphone on her collar. Can’t you
      leave?
Can you take me with you to Avalon?
Can you make a prediction for 1995?
If I were a girl, I could follow you, I say.
The woman from Reuters motions me to
      hush.
A decisive skirmish is taking place.
The bullfrogs are winning.
All the mice are wearing my pink
      nightgown.

Reprinted from POPULAR MUSIC (1999) by Stephen Burt with the permission of the author and the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University.

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ALL POSTS IN THIS SERIES

STEPH BURT at HILOBROW: KEEPERS (10 poems) | GENO (EPIC WINS series) | NO KILL I (KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series) | ENTANGLEMENT (HERMENAUTIC TAROT series) | HAPPY BIRTHDAY (QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series).

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators

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