Michael Gushue is the co-founder of the heteronymic nanopress Poetry Mutual. He co-ran the BAWA reading series, the Capitol Hill reading series, Poetry at the Watergate, and the Vrzhu Bullets of Love blog. His books are Pachinko Mouth, Conrad, Gather Down Women, and, in collaboration with CL Bledsoe, I Never Promised You a Sea Monkey and The Judy Poems. He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
This poem is from Gushue’s new chapbook, Sympathy for the Monster. “All the poems have something to do with movies and film. Some of them are not about a particular movie, but about kinds of films. More are about a specific movie, one that has had a place in my mind and imagination for a long time—which can be as an image or a number of images, or the just the film itself. And, as the title suggests, many are horror films, although it doesn’t have to be a horror movie to have a monster in it.”
The secret of the universe
is in a cigar box on a dusty shelf
of an abandoned pawnshop.
An alcoholic lawyer, steals it, sells it
to a shut-in mogul whose bad heart
can only be saved by an ex-surgeon,
hands shaking like jumping beans.
He prays for a steady knife then drops it,
impaling the cabin boy’s foot under
the flaming gaze of the cannibal sailors.
Hiding in the crow’s nest, Satan.
From his lookout, he watches a drop
of sweat fall onto a worn bench
where the washed-up heavyweight
struggles in the sauna of his thoughts
towards the love of a convent girl
dying of an infected wound
on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
The final twist is me, alone with my
robot mom. No one has explained
what I was seeking at those altitudes.
Sandra Beasley is the curator of “Poetic Hill,” a resident of Southwest, and the author of four poetry collections. If you live in D.C. and you’re interested in being featured, you can reach her at email@example.com for questions and submissions (1-5 poems).