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.
9. 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 angels— —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.
10. 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.