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Selected Poems

November 14th, 2021

Poems by Beatriz Seelaender

Artwork by Olivia Shea

Rubaiyat for Women Made into Hurricanes Overnight


A moment of silence for women whose names got swept up overnight by hurricanes

Despite having come first and before, after the hurricane the connection remains

And for every cognitively dissonant Katrina, Irene, or Maria, 

There is one who rushes, swirls, has a taste for destruction, and cannot well be contained. 


Even more tragic is that impulsive elements are not usually baptized, however:

No tsunamis, droughts, or any similar endeavour

Though Katrina was once 87th in recorded births, she soon surpassed it in deaths

We should take it as advice never to spite a Meteorology Professor. 


But how can they reclaim the dignity of a name’s patent? 

For preceding hurricanes, there seems to be no clear precedent

They’d do better to wait for another disaster

After which someone else’s weather shall turn out to be inclement…


Whirligigs warn you of the incoming threat on their radar

The name, off the radar, jumping ship from the charts

You’ll never meet anyone else like her, in the process of extinction

Instead of “pure” as in Katherine, Katrina is as pure as an abattoir. 


Her greatest misfortune is to carry a hurricane namesake

That nails her character down to all that she undertakes

Confirming her truly erratic and dizzying nature

The view from the eye is only the I, exempt of emergency brakes. 


Be mindful however of a phenomenon striking all nations 

The impending threat that we call girlbossification 

Be hurricanelike in a context of poetry, not of marketplace feminism

For slogans and truisms will render you rid of respect and vocation. 



In the spacious relief of certain doom

Hopeful lamentations bloom 

Furies cut Ariadne’s string

As Aunt Penny threads the loom. 


Shed and signed away are these invisible wings

tied to the children desperate to get rid of childish things

Icarus might’ve forgotten about sunscreen, which

did melt and burn his, but this does not burn but it stings. 


She undoes the stitches 

we’ve been told were only wishes 

and did not really exist.


The original fabric undone, dispatched, and ditched

– zigzag crisscrossing unseemly – tossed, turned and switched

with a new incompatible piece seamlessly sewn together beneath

No one should tell the difference between the before and the glitch. 


Aunt Penny lives to sew another day, unravel at night

Always waving the warp of her time. 


Hanging by one of her threads, a sacrifice from Thetis to the Lethe:

About to be bathed is the loose baby tooth unsheathed

by a slam of the door – hanging from the knob, now the scissors, 

and then it’s over: no one ever mourns the milk teeth. 


Elegy for the Video-Store


The video-store is a bubble-gum gunshot to the tongue

By the gasoline trails on the sidewalk

Just out of class, nostrils and hands with a thin layer of chalk

Film in the mouth from the chewing gum, film in the smell about the spot. 


Search for that French-Canadian movie we could never find again

Gang-up the girls on the boy who’s tired of watching Grease and complains

Says he’ll rent out a film for himself and watch it in a different room

He swears that he will if we don’t find a compromise any time soon.  


I stare at the seasons of series stacked up together 

Compare the faces of the main characters on the covers, and wonder whether

they looked older or better or had left the show altogether

but no one wants to watch episodes for our Saturday afternoon movie session. 


For of course we shall choose the same film that we choose every weekend

Perhaps there’s an alternate unspoken rule to the rite

Some of the tapes we forget have been stretched out or stiffened 

The surprise pause prompts a break for our microwaved popcorn plight. 


Our ultimate choice might’ve looked better under fluorescent lights

We curse at the people who had not the common courtesy to rewind 

We open up our three identical beach chairs and fight about which one is actually ours 

But once we are settled we know every line to shout and recite. 


They used to have sections for both DVDs and the tapes

Programmed obsolescence would soon enough lower the bar

And as we got older we also grew chronically late

Some things seemed so present, now we stare at them from afar. 


The one by my grandparents’ house now a nail salon, 

The one by my school now a centre for medical testing, 

By the gas station, it’s a Subway sandwich shop that lives on

All prime real estate fit for divesting. 


But popcorn and bubble-gum vendors are still out and about

By the school and the station and even my grandparents’ house

The last time I rented a movie was 2012

2001 was the name of the very last store to unshelve. 


We get the original for our parents, and the remake flops

Nostalgia might be the most powerful of all the idols

Black-and-white double features in technicolour subtitles

The video-store is a bubble-gum gunshot that pops. 

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