Erin M. Bertram is a fellow/TA in the MFA Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. She writes for The Vital Voice and edits shadowbox press, which publishes hand-made chapbooks by underrepresented writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bloom, Columbia Poetry Review, CutBank, MiPOesias, Natural Bridge, and The Marlboro Review. With Sarah Lilius, she co-authored the chapbook Here, Hunger (NeO Pepper Press, 2007). Body Of Water recently won the 2007 Frank O’Hara Award Chapbook Competition and will be published by Thorngate Road in late 2007.
[Love Poem: Watering Hole]
Because a few drinks does negative damage to the soul. Call it praxis. Call it alibi. Whatever the cost, the season’s shock & alter, you find yourself in one of the following quadrants at one of the following angles:
a) Lurched over a gin gimlet in khakis & a tie, last call three minutes & counting. b) Your cousin’s graduation party, punch-spiked & dangerous, reciting Keats, the dark, dark bird perched & smiling on your shoulder. c)
When I walked through them (the double-doors, the fifth & vital chamber), the waitress asked my poison, brought it my way on a silver platter. I remember you, fingering your empty glass. But what we need breaks the skin & spills over the lip. God has nothing to do with it. Do the math. The sacral, the diurnal, the sacred, the dead. We met in that secret room, made a pact, traded gestures.
I’d come home that night to find blood on my lip. You’d wake the next morning in sweat, taste mint & metal. I had wanted to make clear to you the velvet within. The black smoke, the contour of fire. To describe to you a world, the world, to you. Is what I mean.