Heaven and Dirt by Mary Biddinger


There you go with the crushed velvet and makeshift bracelets,
the judgments and cribbed recipes from major restaurant chains,
assorted creepers wearing your likeness on sweatshirts, checking
your favorite books out of the library just to sniff the pages you
previously sniffed, and your hair that’s like a bank of parking
lot snow shoveled from some other more important surface, or
a cape purchased on impulse but it smelled like formaldehyde
so you used it as a sex in the woods blanket instead of sleeping,
the lightning-quick email replies that annoyed even superiors
who were many, considering your station, which had upward
mobility yet you stood behind the curtain instead of in front,
opened the lid of the piano bench instead of revealing the keys,
chewed mango as if you grew up in a mango-less bog, crotch
of the worst maple in all your self-portraits, which were many,
and I recall someone once saying it’s hotter to be a bit messed,
for example some history on the skin or lipstick that’s trash,
but maybe that was the man who kept fingering my shoulder
blades like they led to some cavern when in fact I was full of
stones and dead owls and recollections that felt like chipped
plaster in the bottom of a padded bra, leaving little mustache
room or input about which boots looked nattier on him, so I
suggested maybe you could roll in with a Cindy Crawford
past prime aesthetic, ordering the bangers and mash without
even perusing the menu, your gilded artichoke pattern tights
and not even a pretense of vegetarianism, the tiny handcuff
earrings you probably slept in, the heap of vines you’d piss
behind while some paying customers observed, shoulders
greased with oil and the shush of dollars dropped into a jar.


Mary Biddinger is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Small Enterprise and The Czar. She lives in Akron, Ohio, where she teaches at the University of Akron & NEOMFA program and edits the Akron Series in Poetry. Biddinger’s first collection of prose poems, Partial Genius, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019.