C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

FRENCH 75; MERCY; NEW AMSTERDAM

By: Sarah Beth Spraggins


FRENCH 75


I wore a short blue dress to the birthday.

Outside Autumn was perilously descending into something else.

Winter is not the right word.

We scroll away faces like advertisements.

Darkness shudders when I am in my room.

Curtains drawn against early night.

My grey coat a crumpled heap on the ground.

The last listening ear a disturbance.

The gin piled up in my system.

Your voice clasping said: we can see each other this week.

Like a damp leaf I clung to it moving across

The karaoke screen in thick black letters.

You were fast asleep in Gramercy.

Dark rain was pushing leaves from the trees.






MERCY


In the aripiprazole night

Feet frozen under covers


Alone and put out

By this pathetic disease


I am reminded that my grandfather

Also a depressive

Didn’t change his sheets

For four whole months.

Sweet slow Auburn.

I can smell the tobacco


On his shirts.

I can smell the Alabama.


Those juicy white gardenia

Flowers covered with ants.


I am frankly possessed

By my body


Weak and dangled like a cigarette.

A cigarette is like a bone.


Getting in the shower

It scalds then freezes.


Some kind of golden flood.

It is remembering there’s a whole


Flickering city out there.

Parks and stuff. This is the way

I would describe it.

Somewhere along the line


You were touched by mercy

Very briefly.






NEW AMSTERDAM


Deep into another summer there was a different

set of bars I’d pass on my way home. Signs

glowing red on the water. Men in light jackets


laughing with women. It pleased me to see

so many people taking the time to be happy

and drunk on a Tuesday only because their


lives bloomed heavy and bright beneath them.

I seemed to understand, even at twenty,

though of course I still wonder about it now


that this was not a choice. Why not pause

in the apricot air? Has anyone ever had an

answer? In New York, my body is


betraying me again. The little knot wound

around my sternum will not unwind. Thoughts

of water lilies floating like upturned bowls


jolt me out a little. There are those who

have loved me without me knowing.

But I am not a humanist nor do I believe

in the divinity of flowers. All my life has

been a yellow circle drawn around a dark dot.

The slippage. The endless weakness.

Peel me apart and find it. Rip it out.

I’ve decided to be done with it.

And send me reeling like a stone into water.





 

Sarah Beth Spraggins received her BA from Wheaton College and is an MFA Candidate at Columbia University. She has a poem forthcoming in Image Journal. She lives in Manhattan.