Bell, Day and Klobah – Poets to Read – And Here, Three of Their Poems – Writing the Body Erotic

American Poet Francesca Bell


the man remembers your body,
remembers to love you again,
flicks you like a switch
that has waited, ready
in the room’s shadows.
Loneliness rises from each
reclaimed centimeter
of your skin. You are so
eager you are humiliated,
rushing forth like a hound
loosed in woods, your cry
like joy or keening, a baying
that bursts out of you, months
of waiting become sound. After,
the man sleeps, peaceful, but you
are a door he’s opened, a path
grown over now beaten
back down. You feel his life,
which will end before yours,
slide slowly away into the dark.

Francesca Bell from BODY,, March 2015

For readers of American lit mags Bell’s name is no secret. Her poems have appeared in many of them including  North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and Rattle. Better still she has been nominated eight times for the Pushcart Prize (best poems of American small presses and magazines). And she won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Her first full-length collection comes out in 2019 from Red Hen Press.

And it’s in Rattle where I discovered her a week ago. Her poem was chosen for the Rattle weekly Poets Respond feature based on a news event from the previous event. To read that poem please click here. The imaginative power of that poem based on a news story of last year’s horrific Las Vegas shooting showed me a poet of unusual range and nuance. I had never heard of her before so went searching. What I found was a poet who writes with a particular lyric ferocity.

I bookmarked Bell and in particular her poem attached above. An erotic poem but one with dark notes, the dark notes of duende. I thought I might feature it one day.

Then, through the 24 Pearl Street website, looking at their on-line courses and instructors I came across American poet Meg Day, assistant professor of English and Creative writing at Franklin & Marshall College. Again, another unknown poet to me. But knowing the quality of 24 Street faculty I checked her out. She might be early in her poetry career but she has already a trail of important prizes and recognitions behind her, including her Barrow Prize and Audre Lorde prize-winning 2014 first collection Last Psalm at Sea Level.

Self-identified as feminist, disabled and L/G/B/T, Day speaks out fearlessly in her poems from the inner place that has made her what she is. Her first book was lauded by many of her accomplished peers including Ellen Bass, Kasim Ali and D.A. Powell who describes her as a poet whose fearless heart is tethered to the world. And when I read her poem, below, I read a poem so tethered to the body and eros  I was instantly reminded of Bell’s poem. Decided to feature them together. Sooner than later! And sooner came sooner than I thought!

American Poet Meg Day

Listening in the Dark

Even in this light, I can see
your want. A gulley appears

in the hard bare field between
those fenced brows & opens

into shallow beds tilled temple
to temple as if the glut of a flood

had been swallowed to reveal
the land’s contour underneath.

Habit—or hurt—has made
your surface smooth (its true

smallholding kept submerged)
& I drink of this drought

like I’m told a new calf gasps
for air when its muzzle is cleaned

of that which had only just
kept it subsisting. Is it still

synesthesia if I have no choice
but to use my eyes as ears? You

laugh then, your teeth fitted
around the steady static grumble

of the sea below us, your eyes
a yes or no question I’ve waited

seasons to seed. Operator, are you
there? My hands have never been

so pleased to be my mouth, so
my mouth can be other things.

The moon is a sickle that swings
despite the plow’s augured return

& in my fingers is your name
I plant again & again in the ground.

Meg Day from, originally from The Enchanting Verses Literary Review: XXV, 2017

So much to enjoy in this poem but for me especially: & I drink of this drought…


Caribbean/American Poet Loretta Collins Klobah

With these two poems of Bell and Day, each so surprising in their own way, I remembered the surprise I felt a year ago reading a poem by Loretta Collins Kolbah a long time resident of the Caribbean who teaches at the University of Puerto Rico. The lushness, the isness of her images in her poem drenched me in a sense of place but also the poem’s self-confident memory of eros  expressed so unexpectedly added an element in this poem that made it unforgettable to me. Certainly different in tone and style than the poems of Bell and Day, but her poem was one that I thought would complement so well the other two poems. And so this blog post materialized much sooner than expected! What an erotic journey these fine poets have taken me on! Here is Klobah’s poem:


My daughter still sleeps in the late morning light
slanting through the jalousies and cresting
waves on a coverlet batiked with flying fish and manta rays.
The salt of her damp neck tastes like pumpkin seed husks
as I kiss her and ease from the bed.
I dress in a loose shift, a faded indigo blue button-down
that I used to clasp with a belt, or a man’s
cupped hands as he stood behind me in the kitchen,
warning me with his morning “pointing finger”.
The salt shakers danced as I braced against the table.
A woman in middle years, I crave solitude and earth tones.
The high arched white walls and the ochre floor tiles
of my sun-polished front room please me.
Canvas, clay, driftwood, sediment, shell and dirt.
Outside the window, the flamboyant flares its scarlet
skirt like the flamenco dolls sold in seaside boutiques.
Bristling with curled silver Spanish moss, and assuming
the knurled bonsai pose that I once admired in cypress trees
held fast to outcroppings on the Californian coast,
the tree shelters ground doves. Heat clogging the veins
of its dry, crackling heart, my flamboyant tree survives.
solitary on a street named Los Flamboyanes
for the once vibrant red satin-lined boulevard of torch trees
and fallen blossoms. Lizards run and leap along the roots,
small black ones, brown, blue-streaked, and ruffle-bearded
iguanas that undulate in motion. A summer morning.
I brew fresh ginger tea with coarse brown cane sugar,
cut a papaya, and watch the sun bead its juices.
No one ever taught me to expect that a phase of life
spent without a lover could be as happy, simple, and rich
as this. Now I am remembering just the way his pelvis
swung hard and loaded with freight into my labia
flame-petals. The memory feels good, like fireworks
in the kegal muscle and quick spreading heat.
The tossed sea of my own body in humidity
and golden air kindle both satisfaction and peace.

Loretta Collins Klobah (1961- ) from The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman, Peepal Tree Press, 2011

One Comment

  1. Frances Warner
    Posted January 29, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Hey Richard…I’ve been enjoying your blogs. Loved today’s especially.

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