Oyster Boy Review 04  
  Spring 1996
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» Levee 67


Beatrice at the Cliffs

Jeffrey Joe Nelson

Books are useless
when in the throes
of a deep, painful fever.

Time slips beneath
the blinds. Sunlight
uncalled for at six a.m.

or seven p.m.
vanishes into the blinding
grey light, and it is mired in this unreal

inbetween time
that I am ripe for confession.
I feel as if I've taken

heroin and LSD simultaneously.
I feel so porous
I'm levitating in the bed sheets.

Air siphons through me
in a continuous cycle
of cleansing that hasn't taken hold yet.
That will not take hold
till my body battles
against itself

and one side
emerges victorious: a war not unlike
every war:

someone, something
always manages to survive.
Winning and losing are analogous terms.

I am sweating like a dishwasher.
This could be one of
Dante's realms

only I couldn't get an erection,
even if the pale naked Beatrice hovered
over my crotch

and made like she was going to suck me off:
nothing, not one rush
of excitement.

But like Dante
I am thinking of truths and I am
thinking of Truth.

Mother, I am sure this will come as no surprise,
I have not always been
truthful to you.

Father, it is almost
impossible for me not to lie to you, and the truths

I once felt compelled to hide
lie unspoken in my mind
recruiting more lies.

And my friends,
yes, they all laugh, drunken, cynical, or otherwise
sotted, they know the score

but no one wants to let on
even when the party has ended and
there's nothing left but our stink of cigarettes

and the roach
of a misplaced joint
to stone us to bed.

How the lie then
turns tail and wears the white suit of Truth
with a black tie.

How the lie then
lies upon me, genitals exposed, rubbing
fiercely, tenderly,

till I am red from the friction
of the rub
and finally coming.

How then looking
down upon my own hand I am tempted to laugh,
and face to face

with what I have made
myself to be, the white suit, the black tie
all now intrinsic pieces of me.

Truth buried beneath
layers of grey matter, fields
of grey light, shades of meaning all competing.

No superior connotations.
No three realms to dwell in.
No escape from now into the past.

The past
shaped as a clay water pot
carries the present.

The future sips from this water and Truth
laid like a claymore mine