You may remember Manny Blacksher from the ALSO THAT Poetry Contest I held last year. You may also remember him from the ebook of his poetry I published here on the site. I'm proud to share his beautiful words with everyone today.
Manny Blacksher is an editor, freelance copy writer, and researcher living in Birmingham, Alabama. His poems have appeared in Measure, Unsplendid, Works & Days, Digital Americana, and The Guardian's Online Poetry Workshop. He had the exceeding good fortune for Mick Theebs to design his mini-chapbook, earthly Sharpness, in 2015. He is now revising a full-length manuscript.
Editing for Heartache
In Chapter 3, you mastered the “Old-New Contract”
and combined it with strong characters and actions
to give a gas utility shut-off notice
clarity and grace. Think of how a typical
“Dear-John” letter obscures purpose and fixed resolve
with abstractions and meaningless modal phrases:
Hey, I know things haven’t been good lately. I mean,
we tried what Dr. Floss advised. I think we both
know it’s just not working out. God, I’m sorry, but
I’ve got to go away. I need some time alone.
I’ll bet you’re shaking your head. The lover has missed
a chance to tell the dumpee they will never fix
concrete problems, and the dumper cannot be swayed
to go on with their irreparably damaged
coupling. The letter needs help from a confident
prose editor. Let’s sink our teeth into this draft
and make the story both lucid and dramatic.
I have been thinking of us. A lot.
We agreed with Dr. Floss to give ourselves six
weeks to make the important changes we discussed.
You still don’t clean the tub. I found more pubic hairs.
You forgot to pay the electric bill. Again!
Last week, I went down on someone from Marketing.
Clearly, neither of us wants this relationship
to change. I hold it annulled by common consent.
Appeals will be considered for forty-eight hours.
Please contact me with any questions.
Precision Finish by Cimex
Good that you and I should like surprise.
Repaved, familiar speedways feel new
to old drivers. We gauge each other through
quick looks, customary jokes, apprise
the field: road-worn but going odds are under-
valued. We’ve bright eyes, firm smiles. We’ll
take Manhattans, and, later, should we feel
the itch, a room to run that circuit. Blunders
of drifting hard through curves have taught us all
the risks incurred by transport on strange beds—
but what bed’s not strange if one doesn’t park
alone to cool beneath clean sheets? Infested
mattresses race with other bodies, remark
jumping thighs, fast times never bested.
When they had rested, Jesus left that place,
But Ethel came behind him saying, Lord,
You’ve left your coat, and he replied, I’ll get
Another coat in Pergamum to last
For all the ages. Blessed be the fleece
Of Pergamum. All praise the tailors there,
The skillful needles. Narrow eyes can see
How best to sew a button. Dust rose up
Before their watchful feet and kissed the sky.
When they had reached the hill where is a well,
They saw a multitude of Pharisees
All spitting beans at ghosts and crying out,
Leave us, Accursed! The Chosen One beheld
These fearful scribes and laughed aloud. He said,
You must not vex the dead, but come away
With me. They went with him but brought their beans.
Upon the road, a stone rolled hard against
The thigh of one whom Jesus loved. Hold up,
I’ve hurt my leg, said the Disciple. Wait,
My thigh is very sore, he told the Lord.
Let’s see how bad it is. The Son of Man
Put forth his hand and touched inside the wound.
I fear I may not walk. But Christ said, Thou
Will soon feel better. Don’t be a baby.
Later, they approached a market where
Was every kind of good thing on display,
All very keenly priced. The Lord said,
How difficult it is for wealthy men
To enter heaven, but I really like
This coat. What does it cost? The merchant said,
Lord, if thou command, how can I not,
But I must sell this wondrous coat to you
For only thirteen silver pieces. Hear
Oh Sons of Judah, Jesus cried, how great
The faith of one who sells a decent coat
To me for six. Forgive your servant’s sin!
The vendor pleaded, Ten is this coat’s price.
Be healed, said Christ, and go in peace with nine.
He bought the coat and both were satisfied.
Ethel said, That coat looks good on you.
When they were on the road, the sun drew down.
The sun was broad and shone upon the fields.
Its light was gold on trees and stones, and wind
Bestirred the grass to din like distant cymbals.
The one whom Jesus loved was muttering,
It’s grown too hot, but Ethel looked about
And said, It feels like keeping promises.
And Jesus said, I know just what you mean.
Later, when they had reached another hill
Where is another well, a crowd of men
Possessed by ducks accosted them and waved
Their arms in fury. Rabbi, have you come
To foul our nests? The hour is at hand,
The Lord replied, when nests will be subsumed
In cypress boughs, and rivers cover all
The bank, and catfish eat your eggs. Fly south.
The sun was low. Christ said, Those ducks were nuts
—What a world. The Disciple who loved
Him said, You are the meaning in my life,
And Ethel said, You’re my inspiration.
Christ replied, Give thanks to God, it’s been
A perfect day, but I could eat a goat.
Let’s get inside. They shook the dust from off
Their coats and entered into Pergamum.