Zero

By Edward Butscher

Moses’ eyes concave

into zealot blindness

that makes stone burn

cold flesh grow green.

 

Serpent as a piece

of red bakery string

dropped on a bed

 

blinking unblinking

at the sepia smiles

of alien relatives

 

the old woman’s

cancer-sour breath

paints her bedroom

the color of corn.

 

This is my crime.

Survival was hers.

 

A robin’s empty eye

mimes a nugget of sun

set so still amid vague

fluff carnage of its

wingless remains:

 

the beauty of a thing

that once held breath:

being and beauty

fused into a tear

for cupped palms

to catch intact

 

then buffed perfect

between artful lids.

___

Born and raised in Flushing, Queens, Edward Butscher’s poems, stories, reviews, and essays have appeared in a wide variety of journals since the early 1970’s, including the Saturday Review of Literature, Poetry, Georgia Review, Newsday, and the American Book Review. In 1976 Seabury Press published his Poems About Silence and Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness, first biography of the controversial poet. He also edited Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work (1978) for Dodd, Mead, and his Adelaide Crapsey was published in 1979 as a title in Twayne’s United States Authors series.

Cross Cultural Communications published two collections of his poems, Amagansett Cycle (1980) and Unfinished Sequence (1981), and his only novel, Faces on the Barroom Floor, appeared from Contemporary Press in 1984. He co-edited (with Irving Malin) a special issue of Twentieth Century Literature in 1986 devoted to the work of Paul Bowles. His Conrad Aiken: Poet of White Horse Vale, published in 1988 by the University of Georgia Press, won the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Cane Award for that year

Edward Butscher is the author of Peter Wild (1992) in the Western Writers of America series and Eros Descending (1992), a group of lyrics from an on-going sequence issued as a Dusty Dog Chapbook, and has been a contributing scholar for a number of reference works, among them, The Reference Guide to Short Fiction (St. James Press), MaGill’s Survey of Contemporary Poetry, and Oxford University’s Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English.


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