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1 Burnside Poetry- A to Z

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Open House


Open House Cover




Poem Not to Be Read at Your Wedding

You ask me for a poem about love
in place of a wedding present, trying to save me
money. For three nights I've lain
under glow-in-the-dark-stars I've stuck to the ceiling
over my bed. I've listened to the songs
of the galaxy. Well, Carmen, I would rather
give you your third set of steak knives
than tell you what I know. Let me find you
some other, store-bought present. Don't
make me warn you of stars, how they see us
from that distance as miniature and breakable
from the bride who tops the wedding cake
to the Mary on Pinto dashboards
holding her ripe, red heart in her hands.


My Father's Pregnancy

It was no false alarm. We barely got there in time. He had that glow, a yellow one. His belly was swollen, his skull was prominent, his eyes bulged like two yolks. Beside him on the hospital night stand there was a cheap vase filled with droopy, father-colored daffodils that someone had been overcharged for. Hooked to IVs and monitors, he was beatific knowing the end was near. My father had labored toward this, had pressed his hot mouth to the slick O of his love, consuming it, swallowing, swallowing, grown sick with desire. He lost the will to conceal, taking it at work, in the car. He must have known how this would end - the whispering neighbors, the elaborate cover up, the family trying to interfere, him at last sneaking away to wait it out alone. So there couldn't have been much surprise when it finally planted itself in his body. The delicate slug of his liver speckled and festered. The other mossy organs curled aside so it could grow. And this brave father, tinting pollen-yellow, carried it to term; he endured the thin nights of sleep, the mornings of vomit and headaches, the clumsiness, the weakening bladder, the body not quite his alone anymore. Toward the end, all he could stomach was a mouthful or two of ice cream. But my father had fidelity. It was the greatest love he had ever known, and even then, he was not scared. He was groaning, we were counting his breaths, he was bearing down.


Why I Can't Cook for Your Self-Centered Architect Cousin

Because to me a dinner table's like a bed -
without love, it's all appetite and stains. Let's buy
take-out for your cousin, or order pizza - his toppings -

but I can't lift a spatula to serve him what I am.
Instead, invite our favorite misfits over: I'll feed
shaggy Otis who, after filet mignon, raised his plate

and sipped merlot sauce with such pleasure
my ego pardoned his manners. Or I'll call Mimi,
the chubby librarian, who paused over tiramisu -

"I haven't felt so satisfied since . . ." then cried
into its curls of chocolate. Or Randolph might stop by,
who once, celebrating his breakup with the vegetarian,

so packed the purse seine of his wiry body with shrimp
he unbuttoned his jeans and spent the evening
couched, "waiting for the swelling to go down."

Or maybe I'll just cook for us. I'll crush pine nuts
unhinged from the cones' prickly shingles.
I'll whittle the parmesan, and if I grate a knuckle

it's just more of me in my cooking. I'll disrobe
garlic cloves of rosy sheaths, thresh the basil
till moist, and liberate the oil. Then I'll dance

that green joy through the fettuccine, a tumbling,
leggy dish we'll imitate, after dessert.
If my embrace detects the five pounds you win

each year, you will merely seem a generous
portion. And if you bring my hand to your lips
and smell the garlic that lingers, that scents

the sweat you lick from the hollows of my clavicles,
you're tasting the reason that I can't cook
for your cousin - my saucy, my strongly seasoned love.

Product Details

Fennelly, Beth Ann
Zoo Press
Lincoln, Neb.
American - General
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
March 2002
8.42x5.54x.30 in. .28 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Open House Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 76 pages Zoo Press - English 9780970817754 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This collection became one of our biggest sellers last year following a series of masterful readings by the author. The poems spring off the page themselves, so funny, warm, wise, and alive with motion. The experiments in style here are not tricks, but paths to surprising depths. Read Beth Ann Fennelly now and beat the rush."
"Review" by , "With its high spirits, its love of textures of different kinds of writing, its search for ways to frame ambitious energies....'From L'Hotel Terminus Notebooks' (a poem within Open House) advances with a determination to keep the author interested and alive to her materials; in places, amused with itself and hopscotching, in places veering into unexpected depths, it is an immensely lively performance."
"Review" by , "Beth Ann Fennelly's Open House stands out from the poetry of most younger American poets with their sober self-confessions or, conversely, their sarcastic throw-away wit. Here is sincere passion in great, mature portions, with a tenderness toward her characters both far away and near, a historical aptitude and relevance, a strength of spirit, and a wisdom at home in the substantial body of the work. I greet this book, this poet, with joy."
"Review" by , "Beth Ann Fennelly is an ambitious and spacious young talent. The poems in A Different Kind of Hunger (Ms. Fennelly's chapbook of poems contained within Open House) range widely in form and subject matter...there is a striking accuracy of language and notable skill that sets them apart, displaying a promising, authentic voice."
"Review" by , "Reflecting a subtle eye for telling visual details and a keen ear for the music of the language, this volume marks the arrival of an important poetic talent....The dynamic sense of life distilled in Fennelly's verse, along with her gifted use of personae, provide clear evidence of her unique and compelling voice. Amply demonstrating her talent, the chapbook leaves the reader with the promise of more exceptional work in the future."
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