Francesca Bell has had poems published in many journals, including Rattle, burntdistrict, North American Review, Passages North, Poetry Northwest, and The Sun. New work is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Crab Creek Review, Flycatcher, River Styx, and Tar River Poetry.
All poems have been previously published.
I Long to Hold the Poetry Editor’s Penis in My Hand
and tell him personally,
I’m sorry, but I’m going
to have to pass on this.
Though your piece
held my attention through
the first few screenings,
I don’t feel it is a good fit
for me at this time.
Please know it received
my careful consideration.
I thank you for allowing
me to have a look,
and I wish you
the very best of luck
placing it elsewhere.
Why I Don’t Drink
Because drink is a man with eyes more ocean
than sky, with wit, whose good humor surrounds
him like fragrance, whose suits sit just right
and don’t wrinkle, who wants to pour himself
into me and brings me books—the right books—
and takes me to a hotel room above an exotic city,
and dresses me in silk just for the pleasure
of sliding it down, who enters me like a flush
of good fortune—who, it turns out, is married,
and likes to hang me over his knees and smack me
till the welts rise up burning,
and I spend a long time later,
bent funny before a mirror, straining
to see the bruises on my backside, wondering,
too late, if this was a price I wanted to pay.
My husband isn’t sure he wants a woman
willing to undress in public
every emotion that occurs to her.
He doesn’t think I ought grind out
page after page of sorrow,
my voice like fingers
working a row of buttons.
What man, he wonders, would want
what is his laid bare for strangers,
the fabric of his life, also,
tossed off like lace.
But I need to strip
each layer covering me,
to feel myself take shape
in the open. He doesn’t know
that for me, silence is a too-tight dress
I can’t wait to escape.
The Yearning to Be Supple
Hips are the rain gutters of breath,
my yoga teacher says.
Where in the body, I wonder,
are grief’s rain gutters?
Which part can I bend
into a sluice, sweating and straining,
to let sorrow slide through?
Make yourself soft,
the teacher says when I struggle.
She’s young and can’t imagine
I want to be soft the way
a drunk person is soft
when drink has made him oblivious
to what the world can do,
so the world can do nothing.
He can hurl himself head-on
into each inevitable tree and still manage
his jaunty stagger from the scene.