3 Poems by Sharon Mesmer
"On Vous Embrasse"
Embraces radically deployed -
Multiple sorties of embraces -
And all the while the surface scale of mediocrity remains
Always and forever unadjusted.
The headache I woke up with
Negates the spectre of materiality
Which is merely the source of all mortality
That winks mockingly from the brightwork of the bridge that spans
The filthy Raritan.
The unquantifiable colors of the sunset over Jersey
Reinforce the feeling of reading
Mystical intentionality into every action:
Like my anxiety at leaving the bedroom for the bathroom
Becoming tethered to Aunt Lily's lobotomy,
Which is then connected to an accidental manslaughter in my family,
And thus becomes comparable in coincidental magnitude
To Marilyn Monroe's mother working as a film cutter.
And so tenured to a yearning indwelling and dwindling,
Embarrassment begins its journey of eternal recurring
The minute I wake from a sexy dream
Of a mockingbird mocking a car alarm.
And what you see here
Is the result of my spending all last night and all this morning
Creating a system for cataloging
The contradictions and paradoxes inherent in the search for
An unwavering, constantly reverberating, state of ineffable grace.
Thus far I've gotten this far.
(for Charles Borkhuis)
as in "ugly,"
as in French.
But why ugly
when outside the kitchen window
an apple tree blooms in profusion,
and inside a black cat on a red formica table
chews a daffodil?
Last night you said,
"How do the French understand our poems?
They're just lists of non-sequiturs."
At the poetry reading the door was open
to let in the breeze.
At eight o'clock it was eighty degrees.
The mighty City beckoned,
yet we remained.
We listened, our brows furrowed,
we looked like we had migraines,
we left before we had the chance
to not get invited out afterward.
The lack of light illuminated
no one scribbling in notebooks,
no one stealing anyone's lines.
Does anyone remember ordinary beauty?
Does no one honor Mnemosyne?
On another Spring day,
back in seventh grade,
Eddie Jozefiak came up to my desk at recess to say
"Mesmer, you're so ugly!"
That was thirty years ago.
But I remember it
like it was today.
Stupid University Job
Your loveliest of sway-backs;
of mine I was once ashamed,
and my uni-brow and crooked teeth,
and red hair my mother never let me wash
afraid I'd catch a draft.
She wouldn't let me bathe, either,
which made gym class a horror.
I thought I had it bad
until I met that handsome Scottish man
whose parents tried to make him spontaneously combust
by feeding him haggis laced with gunpowder
and making him sleep in the stove.
Instead of an ear, he had a shiny, snail-shaped ridge.
I guess we all have our tragic flaw.
Mine is like that of the naked man
who holds up a sign that says "I'm naked,"
and runs screaming through the park.
My handlers say I'm difficult,
but don't you believe it.
My soul still radiates a luminous intensity
despite this stupid university job.