poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Paulette Beete



Consider a self in exile.
Consider another self constructed
in the shadow of the first.
Consider the required tools

for an unspiraling
(apple peel, orange rind)
to find what's hidden what's soft.

Am I an intersection of skin & voice
the shadow of that intersection
a manipulation of skin & memory

a blank wall? In the beginning
there was a thin braid of darkness
& light (this is where I stumble)
tracing distance (choose the correct
strand of the original braid)...this is what inspires retreat.

This is what inspires retreat.

(Remember skin the consequence of skin
the weight of memory...)

Consider a woman hiding
in a turtle's shell.
Consider the effort of a woman
fitting this shell to herself.
Consider the woman dismantled
fitting herself to it.



They sing. They sing blue songs
their mothers wore.
They sing grief
, bone-thick & left-handed.
They sing songs cross oceans, cross sidewalks.
They sing skies sealed shut.
They sing men born wearing walking shoes.
They sing women born palms up.
They sing from mouths without lipstick,
charts without notes, pianos without tunes.
They sing back-door songs & apron-
tied-low songs. They sing.
Unmaking the made into something less
teeth-breaking. They sing
dead crops, dead gods, men
put down, men put out,
dreams put off. Off key, off beat, they sing.
Steady. Loud. Relentless. They sing
instead of, in spite of, next door to. They sing
in clinics, in bedrooms, on corners. They sing.
Women in blue & purple, in thorn tiaras braided
from agains & nevermores & never minds.
Songs of children lost, of savings lost,
pawn tickets lost.
They sing. They sing. They sing
blue songs of our mothers,
holier-songs of our blue mothers.
They sing the slow leak that will drown
the world. They call God home
for the re-making.




Paulette Beete's poems, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in print and internet journals including Rhino, Crab Orchard Review, Escape into Life, and Provincetown Arts. Her work was also previously featured in the spring issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Beete's poems are also included in the anthologies Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC and Saints of Hysteria (with Danna Ephland). A former editor-in-chief of the American University-based literary journal Folio, Beete has published two chapbook collections: Blues for a Pretty Girl (Finishing Line Press, 2005) and Voice Lessons (Plan B Press, 2011). Beete has worked in the public affairs office of a federal cultural grantmaking agency for the past seven years. Her current responsibilities include managing the agency's social media platforms and editing its quarterly magazine.


Published in Volume 13, Number 3, Summer 2012.

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Paulette Beete