Selections From Foetus By Steve Kramp

Note: The following sections are taken from a larger work entitled Foetus.  The poem as a whole follows three friends as they travel by bus to an obstetrician’s office.  The primary narrator, a leper, is regularly interrupted by his two companions, a demoniac and a pregnant woman, and when they interrupt they speak in three and five-beat lines, respectively.

          When you were young and waxed
ears were the thing, sirens enticed
you nonetheless. All mythic beasts,
in fact—trolls, harpies, oversexed
centaurs—dealt in irresistible
glamour, in power moves and lust
for domination, and these clinched
you, flipped you. So when vampires wrestled
              —To win undying glory.
            —you somehow knew you must
root for the vampires, and when they cursed
dawn later you apologized
for breaking light. When dragons seethed
at a pregnant girl whose distaff
like a key unlocked the obstinate
Forbidden City, you fantasized
a joint revenge.  
                      —Undying glory warns her children to pray.
                    The bird that flexed
fire plumes, however, the phoenix ashed
and bright, no matter how it whisked
its wings it left you cold.  
                                                 Your mussed
 hair like a sprinkler system has coursed
 with rain for hours. Your soaked All-Stars
 emanate tide pools.  
           —Where you are there’s clear water.
                                  When Nostradamus
 peered into liquid he found mused
 visions, short-cuts through epistemology
 and time: gorillas in the midst
 of crimson mansions—man-o’-wars beached
 on ocean cliffs—a stone doll twisted
 inside a maid.  
           —The lithopedion.
                         No shamanistic
 soup for you, though. Off you splashed
 in your Converse, striding downstream
 into the eddying, lacustrine
 Forbidden City. There, where corpsed
 statues swam in traumatized
 waters, in static simulcasts
 of rain, a stone womb coalesced
 and told the unborn it was their destiny. 

Stephen Kramp holds an M.A. in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and an M.F.A. in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Prior to his current position as Humanities Chair at John Paul the Great Catholic University, he taught at the University of California, Merced and the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  He lives in the mountains northeast of San Diego with his family.

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