by Robert Bové (May 2007)
Versions of these two poems appear in The Shell Line, the third poem cycle in The UFOs of October.
She glides among them
long-legged, on skates
her gleaming auburn hair
one hand on a breast, the fingers of the other stretching
nearly to the inside of a thigh
trailed by a huge floating shell
and airborne school of red snapper
Her nostrils flare from boardwalk potpourri
of french fries
rotting kelp &
coconut sun tan lotion
Animal-alert to each other,
it’s hard to account for their indifference to her—
the winterskinned on bicycles
a pale youth burning shirtless
a middle-aged self-styled rake in short shorts and Nikes
girls playing tennis in skirts as small as his hand
the old woman carrying seashell-pink parasol
chaperoning a sweatered old man
inching his walker up hot wooden planks
Piled up against the shoreline
air bubbles burst by the billions
From the surf, a woman half-emerges
a sea-glazed jewel
dark hair into the water at her waist
woven up from the sea
a hank of gleaming kelp
Earlier, at the New York World’s Fair, 1939
Again, Botticelli’s: in 12’ tall photo, flat on the pavement.
Around Venus blow-up sprawl 10 voluptuous bare-
breasted blondes, brunettes & redheads—all too real—
about to be fit with rubber mermaid fins—
Dali’s “Dream of Venus,” the façade,
thanks to Levy’s money, of pavilion-aquarium.
A rubber manufacturer insisted on the fins
but you, señor, pimping the fantasmagoric
wanted the show viewed through peepholes
by “moon-mad” New Yorkers.
And though delicious, your women
are unconscious they too are as precarious
as the “middle men of culture” you condemned
later that summer, safe in Franco’s Spain.
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