“Must” & Other Poems by Robert Beveridge

Must

Juice is wrung
from the grapes
with a wooden press
or, nicer, feet.

This is done
a few times, how many
depends on the grapes

and what is left is must.
Exhausted, pulpy,
but, with essence given,
imperative.

The juice will,
of course, make wine,
ferment inside wet
barrels, gain potency.

But the must, the structure,
can lie on the tongue
without change, slip
down into the throat,
taste of sweetness,
exhaustion.

 

 

Oneiromancer

You ask yourself for the hundredth
time how much fish sauce is too
much, add it, throw in another two
tablespoons for good measure. This
recipe will be your waybread,
your carbonation, your dearest
companion as you drive
into the rotten heart of the republic,
where you will find out how many
tyrants suffer the shellfish allergy
that killed the local magistrate.

You grab the zinc shaker, add
a couple dashes to get that blood
undertone that brings all the stone
walls to the yard, clean your rifle
one more time. You can never
be too careful about these things.
Time to open the door, step outside,
take your place on a front line
that hasn’t moved as long
as you’ve been alive.

 

 

Siu-Mai

They said it happened years ago,
the fateful meeting of castaway
and poppyseed. Three dozen
arms later, and the oil produced
could light a small city, lubricate
an entire pod. Delicious. It sounds

lascivious, but never is; you will
never hear bar patrons say, “let’s
get sebaceous, baby.” Though
maybe, on the untamed frontier…

Things are different now—we light
our whales with fusion, lubricate
cities with snails’ blood
and the defecation of commerce.
We make our dumplings with sesame,
amaranth, spelt.

We look forward, salivating, to Lent.

 

 

Sunflower Korma

At last the anchor is raised,
the hot sauce kisses the cheese
and we’ve decided
on a universal standard
of chocolate ice cream.
We recognize, and have drafted
a resolution to this end, the power
of cultural invisibility,
have erected fenceposts
in its honor and have refused
to call them art. We ask nothing
in return save the whisper
of squirrels’ wings and a roast
haunch of dialectic once
a week or so. This is our
world, the poster tells us,
and we should treat it
with responsibility. In response
we have eaten the memo
with garlic, habanero.

 

 

Thunderstorms at 4

The police are already
dealing with an emergency
on the east side of town,
so you’re on your own
with the lost armadillo,
stolen tacos, and single-
celled amorphous space
monster driven
to consume everyone
at the local penny arcade.
The food truck
in the parking lot satiates
it with banh mi but how
long that will work is
anyone’s guess and their
do chua supply is low.
The beast complains the pork
has a cumin flavor. The shells
discarded in the corner
have a leather-like feel.
The town holds its collective breath.

 

 

Bonanza

Green paint flakes drift
from roof to sidewalk. No
footprints for years save the occasional
half-interested developer, impecunious
would-be bar owner. Even the trees
out front refuse to bloom; flakes
the contrast color on a background
of dead-grass brown.

You pick one up, hold it
to your nose. It smells
of steak, heat, time.

—About the Author—

Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Collective Unrest, Cough Syrup, and Blood & Bourbon, among others.