bethany-mae-poetry

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Not all parts fit together.
A collection of 11 poems by Bethany M. Kanter. These poems struggle with finding identity as person, language, poet, woman, and poem, as

It’s here! 

If you’d like a copy of my new chapbook, “Not all parts fit together.” you can head over to my Etsy and purchase one. I really appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from my tumblr friends for my work. I’m a little embarrassed by self-promoting like this, but I’m really proud of these poems and I had a lot of fun making the books.

Paris

I was thinking about

Paris, and falling in love

with a failing musician.

Satie was playing, as you would

expect. I’d wake up to the sun,

and the sound of the street out

the wooden shutters with peeling white paint

and failure would tempt and haunt

me like it always did. It is

always so tantalizing. Delicious,

seductive. It would rush toward me

like the sand pulling out from under

my feet on the beach. If our love

would die, it would go all at once,

catastrophically, not cancerously.

And Satie’s Gnossiennes played on,

haunting and evoking an idea

of unsettlingly sunny Parisian

street cafes, and a breeze disturbing

white curtains. I think that I could

see my feet slipping on the

snow. He told us to get out and

climb to the house. We’d have to

shovel out the driveway, down to the gravel.

It is ever so distant to think of an

impassioned decline. Meet me for coffee,

take the train to the coast. Write poetry while

your brain is lulled by the steady forward

rhythm. It’s not about the lulling, it’s

about his hands and the calloused fingertips

that gripped her skin, feeling the weight

of her. For her, him was to smell of

guitar strings and old warped pianos with strings inside

that will bend and resonate. The disharmony will

haunt you more than the melody, he will say

to her. You should know that his passion

is a full century behind you. I know nothing

of Paris, save how to ask for a whiskey, a grapefruit,

and the location of a washroom, but I suppose

that it is enough to be disassembled. And

Satie plays on, my reflection in the window,

scarlet yarn squared on my lap. Go to bed,

my dear, he whispers in my ears.

treading water

     “Do you ever feel like you’ve been doing really good? Likeyou’re in the water, but you’re swimming; you can feel the shore getting closer to you with every stroke? And then all it takes is just single moment for you to realize you haven’t been swimming at all. In fact, you’ve barely been treading water.”
     She asked these things like they were questions, like they were more than rhetorical. She bit her index finger. She had this habit of chewing on the skin on her the knuckles of her index finger and middle finger when she got nervous. She’d grab the skin with her teeth and pull it away from the muscles and the bones. You could see it stretch from her hand her mouth. Afterword, she’d look at the teeth marks on the surface, have an expression of regret at the damage it had caused there. It would even bruise now and then if she did it hard enough, or long enough. She knew when things weren’t healthy for her. And she did actively try to avoid them, but some habits are difficult to convince ourselves when we don’t need them. Even if we can reason through to know we don’t need them, it’s difficult to convince ourselves we are strong enough to break them. It’s easier to simply continue on one mildly destructive behavior and to avoid the devastatingly destructive behaviors. But that is not exactly a false concept either.
     “I can convince myself of anything,” She started saying again. “I can convince myself that I like a food I hate. I can convince myself that I am infinitely more attractive than I am. I can convince myself that I find one person unbearable while another is simply misunderstood. I can convince myself to feel for someone and I can almost convince myself to stop. I can convince myself that I am very, very good at treading water when in fact, I am mediocre, if not subpar.” She stopped to chew her middle finger. She pulled her hand away and shook it slightly, anxiously, with the same look of dissatisfaction with herself. “Sometimes the illusion is a little transparent is all. But I try so hard.”
     She chewed at the fingernail of her thumb this time for a moment and stared of into a corner. Her body let itself drag with gravity. The small of her back sunk into the back of the chair, breaking the good posture she was trying to hold. Her mouth slackened; even her ears drooped down and her glasses slid further down her nose as a result. Her left hand reached up limply to adjust them up to her eyes.  As her hand dropped, her eyes glanced at the red teeth marks disinterestedly. Her left foot turned in and her right foot turned slid slightly forward, toes lifting as the heel sunk low.
     “Why am I even in the water? That’s what I don’t understand. When did I even put my toes in? I don’t think I can even swim anymore. Maybe I just thought that the water would be warm, that he would look at me if I put myself near him and I was right, I suppose. He looked near me and he looked at me and he didn’t look hard enough. I was looking with so much intensity, but he measured everything. That doesn’t seem fair to me, but I don’t know where the inequity is… We put our toes in the water and waded in a ways, not sure if we could swim, but willing to check.  We put our toes in the water and waded in a ways, but I kept going. And his voice was suspended by the stillness of the water beneath it and so I thought that he was at least on his way behind me. By the time I realized I wasn’t hearing him right, I was too far in. I could still see the shore, but too far all the same. And all it really took to start was the idea that the water was warm and it was pleasant to be looked near for once, even if it was only near and not at.”

Heresy

If I told you I didn’t believe in love,

would you believe me?

Or would you hate me?

If I told you I didn’t  believe in love,

would you accuse me of heresy?

Would you burn me at the stake for blasphemy?

And condemn me for eternity for the ultimate crime of unbelief?

Although, frankly, I don’t care if my cynicism causes only grief.

But would it disgust you to know that I believed in love only so far as its

      existence as an ideal?

It might annoy you,

but I won’t change what I feel.

But would it surprise you if I told you I believe in saying I love you?

Would it shock you if I told you there is nothing more beautiful and true

Than saying those three gorgeous and filthy words?