Poetry by Mary Elizabeth Parker: “Preservation Hall”


Mary Elizabeth Parker sponsors the Dana Awards, a long-running contest for unpublished poetry and fiction, now accepting entries through October 31. Her poetry collection Cave-Girl will be released this fall by Finishing Line Press. The deadline for the pre-order discount is October 12. Visit their website or email FlpBookstore@aol.com. She kindly shares this sample poem.

Preservation Hall–bodies jockeying for buttock space on cement benches, blood-cramped knees itching to swing, rattling jazz flung in her face, caught in this tiny stewing room which can’t dissipate the force of flesh. Few are pretty here but all can claim a history closing in as they cry out for more musicmusicmusic stuffed like mufaletta in the mouth. The old stumble-tongue beside her knows it knows it all but he can’t resolve the words to tell her, nineteen, her body sweet, who asks what such noise means: It’s everything; why can’t she smell that when she sniffs the breakdown of these bodies (feels entombed)—why can’t she taste the reason the old neighbor back at home she cooks for, cuts his hair (her job because she can’t yet find her purpose) berates her weekly for the few missed hairs; he shrivels to that impuissance. He used to own a wolf-dog, Princess, and her pups (illegal now), and tucked the howls inside him on nights he did the dishes while the sky burned Borealis. He keeps two dog dogs now, who writhe in scat, re-stink themselves with what they are; he would sneeze now at his wife’s White Gardenia. He wants (this girl understands though he does not think she does) skunk stink, owl stink, motor oil and snow in the air stink, to break the head open to what will suppurate then flow.

One comment on “Poetry by Mary Elizabeth Parker: “Preservation Hall”

  1. Nice article, thanks for the information.

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