Iowa Writes

BETSY BLAIR
Some Things are True Before They Happen


1. I wish I carried breadcrumbs in a small straw bag with flowers, one that I would open for the sparrows, who stare me down at the concert. I don't like that.
2. At this concert, I wish the young women with Down Syndrome were lapsing pinkish angels upon a mountain
4. Upon a mountain, I wish these ragged beards would rise to meet me with a kiss-not small bits of flint, the small herd of white cattle
5. Of flint, I think of the difference between the rubbing corduroys and the white spark of firm, white limbs
6. more death knocking at the back door of sycamores, more death knells of for each whispering aspen
7. Ashen, they asked me if I was a smoker. "No, you?" "Or, you?" I said.
8. "I didn't worship the sun either, as you think but the food that drove me."
9. Beauty is the end of conversation
10. Last night, the nightingale woke me and Burl Ives slept beside me.
11. Remind me to put a contract out on him tomorrow
12. About the sparrow under the hostas, it looked at me like a small grey body. I liked that.
13. I liked that, so I left it.
14. Headlines I like, without bothering the stories
15. "Desperate dolphin mom seen helping her baby breathe."
16. "11 Things to quit immediately."
17. "Just try not to smile when you watch these dancing puppies."
18. "3 steps turn a boring bookcase into a beautiful showpiece."
19. A beautiful showplace, this city full of live rabbits.
20. Rabbits cannot conceive specific loneliness
21. A prayer, and then another
22. When the snail crossed the road, he was run over by a turtle. Regaining consciousness in the emergency room, he was asked what caused the accident. "I really can't remember, the snail replied. "You see, it happened so fast."
23. Rest, and more and more rest.
24. It is different, to nap in foreign places-the sun also rises.
25. You can get away from yourself, by moving from one place to another.

1. I wish I carried breadcrumbs in a small straw bag with flowers, one that I would open for the sparrows, who stare me down at the concert. I don't like that.
2. At this concert, I wish the young women with Down Syndrome were lapsing pinkish angels upon a mountain
4. Upon a mountain, I wish these ragged beards would rise to meet me with a kiss-not small bits of flint, the small herd of white cattle
5. Of flint, I think of the difference between the rubbing corduroys and the white spark of firm, white limbs
6. more death knocking at the back door of sycamores, more death knells of for each whispering aspen
7. Ashen, they asked me if I was a smoker. "No, you?" "Or, you?" I said.
8. "I didn't worship the sun either, as you think but the food that drove me."
9. Beauty is the end of conversation
10. Last night, the nightingale woke me and Burl Ives slept beside me.
11. Remind me to put a contract out on him tomorrow
12. About the sparrow under the hostas, it looked at me like a small grey body. I liked that.
13. I liked that, so I left it.
14. Headlines I like, without bothering the stories
15. "Desperate dolphin mom seen helping her baby breathe."
16. "11 Things to quit immediately."
17. "Just try not to smile when you watch these dancing puppies."
18. "3 steps turn a boring bookcase into a beautiful showpiece."
19. A beautiful showplace, this city full of live rabbits.
20. Rabbits cannot conceive specific loneliness
21. A prayer, and then another
22. When the snail crossed the road, he was run over by a turtle. Regaining consciousness in the emergency room, he was asked what caused the accident. "I really can't remember, the snail replied. "You see, it happened so fast."
23. Rest, and more and more rest.
24. It is different, to nap in foreign places-the sun also rises.
25. You can get away from yourself, by moving from one place to another.
26. A prayer, and another
27. I placed a prayer inside the head of every rabbit-that lightning fast I was at night /before the tattooed girl passed, before I followed her into the alley.
28. I watched the pizza being tossed behind the glass and waited for the door to open.
29. "I didn't worship the food, as you think, but the invitation drove me."
30. They didn't really see me there, as if my glass was the back of an ambulance's.
31. The rabbits rode with me.
32. I asked to rest.
33. They put a contract out on me.
34. I survived, and took them out for dinner one by one.
35. The rabbit dined on cucumber cigars and nosed the oiled lake of humus.
36. I wondered why the river appeared to not move forward.
37. The rabbit seemed unmoved by my every kind gesture.
38. Rabbits cannot conceive specific loneliness.
39. The young woman with Down Syndrome leapt to her feet to find a partner.
40. Everyone followed.
41. Our bodies, involuntary, began the same dance seated.
42. Headlines I like, without bothering the stories.
43. "Scientists say there are 4 kinds of drunks, which one are you?"
44. "If you marry after this age, you're more likely to divorce"
45. Were grackles not allowed to cross the state line?
46. I grieve the loss of a metaphor, then another.
47. I want to be a Moon Child, free of narcissism-then dance the heat away into blissful night.
48. Approaching is a cloud.
49. I look at my watch and imagine my next confession.
50. Sick from the cigars, the oily pools of humus, I lie down in a quiet place and give birth to my daughter, Anhedonia.
51. I become a lapsing pinkish angel/ upon a mountain smiling sleepily at old lovers.
52. I knitted nests from their beards.
53. "Yes, I was a good mother", I tell them.
54. I really can't remember. You see, it all happened so fast.
55. One lover was a grackle, the other a small gray body such as myself, the way the sparrow saw me.
56. One child was light, the other lightning.
57. I called my child of light and told him the story of the rabbits.
58. "They no longer look at me or accept my invitations," I told him.
59. "She became one of those, they said, who asks to borrow money as a form of conversation"
60. I write poems with lies in them, because Robert Bly told me to do it.
61. I am so afraid. It helps very little.
62. To be a Moon Child, one must wave at all the other Moon Children upon entering the outside.
63. Headlines I like:
64. "Mind-blowing Pluto has ice mountains and water"
65. "Margaret Thatcher used electrical baths to stay youthful."
66. One child was light, the other lightning.
67. The purse was attached to a kitestring.
68. My key was down inside.
69. When I dreamed, I asked grackles for favors:
70. "Bring me my key"
71. "Light the hot water tank for me."
72. "Pull one quill of my desire"
73. The prayer was unanswered. I asked another, and another.
74. Burl Ives slept so soundly that his heart was struck by lightning.
75. I walk this city of wooden houses, some painted gray that nestle as shadows in a meadow.
76. My purse became heavy with rain and coins.
77. The rabbits want no part of me.
78. Love is dependent upon memory
79. "Margaret Thatcher used electrical baths to stay youthful."
80. I wonder if these tall and narrow buildings have fire escapes, the old-fashioned kind.
81. I think again of Pluto.
82. The rising tide of flint, the grazing white cows,
83. that stones tell secrets to the wildest creatures
84. that grass grows high under ladders
85. There are my friends, The Rabbits
86. I wave to them as a Moon Child.
87. They look up. I like that.
88. One of them, a small gray body
89. I think again of Pluto and the night
90. Romeo and Juliet, involuntarily dancing in their seats
91. sex is a solely human problem
92. Rabbits cannot conceive a specific loneliness
93. It was I who left them, not they who left me
94. It is night and this walking leaves me so tired.
95. The young people in the bars watch me leave- as if they too were riding in the back of an ambulance
96. My neck becomes thick, then thin with the movement of my shadow
97. My voice became a whistle.
98. No one came for it.
99. No one else has a shadow at night, but for the two small shadows following them
100. One child was light, the other lightning

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


BETSY BLAIR

Betsy Blair lives in Oklahoma City where she works for the Metropolitan Library System and performs her poetry regularly at local venues.  Most recently her poems have been published in Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, and in Ilya's Honey.  Her chapbook, "No Shortcuts," will be released by Village Books Press in early 2016.  She has found solace in the work of Iowa writers during times of loss and grief.

This page was first displayed
on November 10, 2015

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