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Nicky Beer


Floating Rib

   One member of the two lowest pairs of ribs,
   which are attached neither to the sternum
   nor to the cartilage of other ribs.

The permanent elsewhere of fathers—
my hand goes to my side as I read.
A lie thrusts out into viscera, gestures
to untouchable bone.  My own
private wish: to snap it free and brandish
—what?  A burin?  A blunderbuss?
Tool for making, unmaking.  Lever
to press against my tongue, to bear me
through terrible convulsions.  I will not make
of it a new body.  I’ll hammer it to gravel.
The ribcage opens its book, one phrase
unspeakable scrubbed.

Variations on the Philtrum

   The hollow that divides the upper lip.

Before birth, the angel told a secret
to your mouth, and made the flesh around it blush.
Hushing you up, he pressed a weightless finger
on those naughty lips, denting the flesh above.

What can separate the odor of instinct
from hot expression but one concave length
of displaced meat more at home in between
fingers or nestled behind distant ears?

A bare, sensible valley framed by winds
from two northern caverns and a pit yawning
below. No seed stays, no sound hesitates
passing through a place of borrowed shadows.

In between sense and within sense
there lies a shallow grave dug out for all
the things one hopes you will be wise enough
to lay down, undisturbed, without a word.

Cubital Fossa

   A triangular anatomical region
   anterior to the elbow joint.

Pack mule for packages,
cradler of gunbutts,
blackfly cockpit,
sweat tarn,

                       -from The Diminishing House