FLY COTTON CHAPBOOK SERIES
№ 1 · The Passion of John Eliot · Michael McInnis
№ 2 · Chernobyl · Anne Pluto
№ 3 · Torero · Gloria Monaghan
№ 4 · Dear Teilhard, · Hannah Larrabee
№ 5 · Lose Sight of Heaven · Zofia Provizor
№ 6 · Innocents · Cindy Veech
№ 7 · In the Year of Ferraro · Jennifer Martelli
About the Authors
From The Passion of John Eliot Michael McInnis
And yet Samuel Green,
and I, with the assistance of
James our Indian
furthered our endeavor
to bring forth
the Word of God
for Hee is the author of Scripture,
such that the voyce of God,
the majesty, glory,
and holyness of His truth
would shine forth upon this forest
and wash away the darkness there
with the purest Spiritual milk,
would feed the Spirit
of the Indian with Bibles
the color of Black Flame –
the exquisite poverty of the inks,
the texture of hemp paper –
PROLOGUE Anne Elezabeth Pluto
For Sergei Brushko
Give me your glasses
then your eyes – a second sight
necessary to envision what I have
not lived – and that by mere chance
my mother confessed – god spoke to her
Go to America – where you were born.
My father – the war was his adventure
and me – the first generation of this family
escaped Chernobyl – but I must be the west
witness – lest we forget the complications
of modern life – of empire and heat of energy
and human frailty. Sergei – even from the grave
your photos haunt and chronicle – the quick and
the dead – wake them all with your eyes
bring us not to commemoration, or to remembrance
but to action and diligence
bring us home.
MANOLETE Gloria Monaghan
The tip of your sword glitters in the sun
your white teeth catch the light
the gold buttons of your coat spin
into your body, barely pressing against the sweating side of the bull,
small swords stick out of his sides like an indication
your dance with him, a spectacle
you push your body into the black bull
the swords pin him and decorate his massive strength
your arms bent behind you like a dancing woman. The lull
of the afternoon settles into the dust
flies hover over the sweat of the bull and the sweat on your brow
your bright red muleta flies over his body like a flower of lust.
Your hands are smeared with the blood of the bull.
It is your second kill today. The stands scream with terror and glee.
Dust flies and settles on your black shoes. The black bull
is dying. It is four o’clock.
You don’t look at the crowd.
You give them nothing of your face, nothing to mock,
only your body as you swing and unfurl
your cape, moving slowly beyond fear in and out of the path of the bull
without ever changing position, your arms as graceful as a girl’s
You love the black bull and your dance is death
you know he will have you
eventually. But now you move with grace and stealth
the gold buttons gleam, the red muleta flutters
sweat draws down your back onto your backside
an old woman proceeds to her window and closes the shutters.
DEAR TEILHARD, Hannah Larrabee
Imagine being spared a consciousness of insignificant observations, for example: I have not written poetry about cheese, or other things I love, but then some beds are shallow and have no need for dreams, while others offer themselves to the deeper pools of imagination, and everyone I know seems to struggle with reconciliation; there is no sense in it – it is irrational in the best possible way, like drunken forests, and who needs dreams given such deranged landscapes? The earth has broken things off with us – we are suddenly enemy and it feels familiar, and it feels perilous, any attempt to mend. If the earth took on a human voice it would still choose not to speak to us – it sends instead monsoons, tornadoes brutal as betrayal, and I have betrayed, betrayed in silence, the worst kind – and sometimes we are deceived into thinking it is against our better nature to ask forgiveness.
In drunken forests, trees stagger sideways as if trying to their put ears to the ground. Is there music in the thawing permafrost, the stirring viruses? Does it feel like roots breaking inside a frozen mouth, like celebration ushered in on the arm of our own indulgence? Every mistake is a temporality, a symphony – do not forget the ways in which we all participate in demise. I have learned to love words in their moderation – always more behind the scenes, the work of things, the earth in its rightful stirrings. The honeybee is spared a consciousness of insignificant observations – it will record distance, vibration, an entire symposium of color, but even honeybees will abandon their work – fall silent – for the span of a solar eclipse in totality. The other heavenly bodies so rarely show their darker faces here on earth, especially in such a way as we are thrown into someone else’s dream – decidedly not human – a reverie and a sick feeling, the boundaries of sleep smeared by rough lips, the honeybee stunned and covered in pollen.
THE FIRST TIME YOUR FATHER TOUCHED ME Zofia Provizor
was when the three of us drifted to some seafood place on the boardwalk in the middle of an August heatwave. I could feel the polish aching on my nails and sweat coming down from under my arms. Your hand on my thigh, thumbing at my angel tattoo while your dad knocked our knees together under the table. My eyes kept watering. We reached for a crab leg at the same time.
I so badly wanted to slip a hand around him during that one New Jersey visit of the summer, but I could tell your mom was really in love by the way she glimmered around him at the cookouts. She always had me sitting in the freezing cold living room waiting for everything to be ready, even when she knew how long I had been a waitress. She’d watch how he pressed the meat into the grill, scan his charcoal marks, and touch the sweat on his back with an ease that half made me wish she was touching me. He’d ask her to throw him a beer and she’d take one out of the case, press it to the space between her breasts before handing it off to him. Her colossal, quiet, “I love you”. It made me feel like she missed him. I squinted through my sunglasses. The way she sat on top of the picnic table swinging her legs, sucking her straw, watching his elbows; it enraged me.
MARY AYER PARKER Cindy Veach
It is written that her touch alone
recovered the afflicted out of their fits.
And there was that black hog,
or some Evill thing not a Reall hog,
that chased home old man Westgate,
open-mouthed, as if it – would have
devoured me att thatt Instant. He said,
he had determined in his mind,
it was Mary Parker.
Also, William Barker Jr. confessed
she went w’th him to Afflict Martha Sprauge
and that she rod Upon a pole
and was baptized at 5 Mile pond –
But to this day there’s speculation
that the teenage girls who accused her
meant another Mary Parker –
distemper of the mind Mary Stevens Parker
or sister-in-law Mary Markstone Parker
or possibly niece Mary Parker
but, most likely, the scandalous,
twice-convicted of fornication
and mother of an illegitimate child
Mary Parker of Salem Town
instead of the hanged Mary Ayer Parker.
Still, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary or Mary –
WHEN WAS MY ANGER CONCEIVED? Jennifer Martelli
The summer of assassinations?
By the man-made lake? A hole
so shallow and muddy, all the men
held hands, formed a human net and
walked toward each other to the center
to feel for some kid who might have
gone under – there,
on its shore, in the Kodak, me,
in my little terry cloth bikini,
all round as the moon stomach.
I’d worn a Batman mask attached
by a thin rubber band all summer,
my hands fisted, the nails bit crescents
in my palms.
The summer of my menarche? I stood
against the lazy Susan in the kitchen and
watched the President resign on the small TV:
I cried because of the cramps and blood,
the garter belt biting me. My mother said
we’d never see this again and she was wrong:
even married to my father,
she couldn’t predict the depth
of a man’s rage.
A year after my abortion?
The clinic three stops down
from my dorm, three quick stops
on the Green Line, and no one shot
there yet but escorts needed, one pink
set of rosaries flung at my face.
That year, the year of Ferraro, my aunt said she wouldn’t vote
that menstruated, could get pregnant,
could bear a child.