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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 6: January 2021
Poem: 246 words
By Roy J. Beckemeyer


By this light the salty fishes
Arch in the sea like tree-branches,
Going in many directions
Up and down.

—Wallace Stevens*

We, salt and sea and dust of galaxy, branched from testis and ovary, sex and soul, our origins lost to daylight’s thin trace, the gunk and spunk of centuries dimming the information DNA has held hidden for eons and eras, every lumen of insight thinner and paler with each furcation back to the successive prior unions of sperm and egg. We know nothing of faces or hands, the depth of footprint or curve of spine, how the eyes of our antecedents held glittering flakes of arthropod and granite, flecks of carbon, infoldings of protein, whether each coupling was abetted by atoms recognizing other atoms as mirrored turns of advancing or receding spiral nebulae, by organic and inorganic molecules awakening to recall the repetition of previous intricate fits and thread twists of particle and wave, complicated patterning of Fibonaccian twines and Borromean rings. Yet we two, who came together through the weft and warp and frazzled rope, fray and splintered graft, the miscellaneous and multifarious paths of fate, fortune and happen-stance, to find one another and bind, repeat and share what we swear is unique to us, what will be unique to our children, what we alone contain and comprise, what generations of beings and stars have stowed within us, packed so well and soundly for our voyage, have arrived, here and now, to wed.



*From the poem “Homunculus et la Belle Toile” by Wallace Stevens, first published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (October 1919) and reprinted in his first collection of poetry, Harmonium (Knopf; 1923)

Roy J. Beckemeyer’s
Issue 6, January 2021

latest poetry collection is Mouth Brimming Over (Blue Cedar Press, 2019). Stage Whispers (Meadowlark Books, 2018) won the 2019 Nelson Poetry Book Award. Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) comprises ekphrastic poems inspired by modern artists’ depictions of angels. His first book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014), was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited (with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg) Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017). His poetry has been nominated for Pushcart (2015 and 2020) and Best of the Net (2018) awards, and was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019.

Beckemeyer serves on the editorial boards of Konza Journal and River City Poetry. A retired engineer and scientific journal editor, he is also a nature photographer who, in his spare time, researches the mechanics of insect flight and the Paleozoic insect fauna of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama. He lives in Wichita, Kansas, where he and his wife recently celebrated their 59th anniversary.

Please visit author’s website for more information about his books, as well as links to interviews and readings (scroll down his About page for the link-list).

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Artist in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019); showcasing Beckemeyer’s poetry, prose poetry, and insect photography

Legacy’s Sunset, a climate-crisis photo-poem in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019)

Words for Snow, a prose poem in KYSO Flash (Issue 9, Spring 2018), which was selected for reprinting in The Best Small Fictions 2019

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