Shirley J. Brewer

Ballet and Mushrooms

My cousin’s text message skewers her vacation plans.
Thank you, AutoCorrect. I’m sure Fran meant
ballet and museums—favorite pastimes in Santa Fe.

Still, my mind conjures a cluster of fleshy ballerinas
alert in sheer Shiitake-shaped tutus,
pirouetting across the cave-dark stage like appetizers in motion.

Beware the denouement. A pair of Deathcaps among the corps de ballet
catches the principal male dancer unaware.
After a shaky jetė, he collapses—in a tumult of tights—into the pit.

Even in my fungal state, I’m gobsmacked by diction,
how the perfect word in a poem
rises en pointe.


Poem Beginning with a Line from Richard Hugo

*You might come here Sunday on a whim,
after a whiskey sour brunch in Hampden
where everyone calls you Hon.

Witness the bold explosion. Isn’t it rich
the way a woman revives her life?

Feast on feathery red lamps, a flamingo-
pink coffee table, lime pillows.

Light splashes in through tall windows.
Lavender high heels sequin the mantel.

Listen to the vibrant
sounds of sirens and the city.

You might wonder how someone
could move forward and away

from all the canyons of the past,
without a map, without a plan.

* “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg”

© Shirley J. Brewer

Shirley J. Brewer (Baltimore MD) serves as poet-in-residence at Carver Center for the Arts & Technology. A Pushcart nominee, her poems garnish Barrow Street, Passager, Gargoyle, Loch Raven Review, Poetry East, Slant, among other journals and anthologies. Shirley’s poetry books include A Little Breast Music (Passager Books), After Words (Apprentice House Press), and Bistro in Another Realm (Main Street Rag). Her fourth poetry collection, Wild Girls, is forthcoming from Apprentice House Press, Spring 2023.

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