Pick-a-Poem: Erin Belieu


Hello, blog readers, and welcome to this week’s Pick-a-Poem post. Each week we pick a poem by someone whose work you may not have read before and feature it here on the blog. Our poems always come from the very helpful Poetry Daily website, which actually features a new poem every day of the week. This week we feature The Body Is a Big Sagacity by Erin Belieu.

According to her bio on Poetry Daily, Erin Belieu has written four collections of poetry, including Infanta, One Above & One Below, and Black Box. She has won several awards, such as the Ohioana Book Award and the Midlands Author Award. She has also received a Breadloaf fellowship and has been selected for the National Poetry Series. Her poetry has appeared in publications such as The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and Ploughshares. She teaches in the writing program at Florida State University.

The Body Is a Big Sagacity by Erin Belieu

is another thing Nietzsche said
that hits me as pretty specious,
while sitting in my car in the Costco
parking lot, listening to the Ballet
of metal buggies shrieking,
as each super, singular, and self-contained
wisdom of this Monday morning rumbles
its jumbo packs of toilet paper and Diet Coke
up the sidewalk. So count me a Despiser
of the Body, though I didn’t generate this
woe any more than the little man parked
next to me, now attempting the descent from
his giant truck, behemoth whose Hemi roars
like a melting reactor and stands
as the ego’s corrective to the base methods
by which the body lets the spirit down.

Buzz-clipped, tidy as an otter, he’s high and
tight in his riding heels. Pearl snaps on
the little man’s shirt throw tiny lasers
when he passes. But who isn’t more war
than peace? And how ridiculous to suffer
this: to be a little man, with itty hands
and bitty feet, to know yourself lethal, but
Krazy Glued for life to the most laughable
engine. Recycled, rewired, product of
genes and whatever our mamas thought
to smoke: the spirit gets no vote, Fred.

My body once was whole, symmetrical, was
actually beautiful for three consecutive years,
expensive as a rented palace, and yet I blew
that measly era watching my clock hands move,
as if I were the trigger rigged to homemade
dynamite. But if you would look inside me,
into all the lonely seeming folks here loading
their heavy bags, you’d hope we’re something
more than a sack of impulse, of soul defined
by random gristle. Which is why the little man
pauses on the sidewalk, why he stops to look at
me looking at him: this pocket-size person,
whose gaze unkinks a low, hairy voltage from
my coccyx. And thus speaks Zarathustra,
You Great Star,
what would Your happiness be
had You not those for whom
You shine?

Ask the little man, neither ghost nor plant,
his bootheels ringing down the concrete.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem. For more posts like this, click right here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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