Dean Blehert has had seven poetry books published, most recently Kill the Children and Other Disconnections (Argonne House Press, 2001) and Please, Lord, Make Me a Famous Poet or at Least Less Fat, a 400-page mock textbook full of parody and satire on the poetry scene, past and current. He also published his own subscription poetry letter, Deanotations (Dean's poems with his wife's drawings) which came out every two months from August, 1984 to July, 2004. Deanotations has often been praised for its quirky viewpoints and slightly offbeat humor. Deanotations boasted readers in most of the 50 states and in Canada, England, Germany, Israel and Australia, and had more than 300 paid subscribers for much of its life. He's had poems published or accepted for publication in New York Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly Review, Crosscurrents, Bogg, Visions, Lip Service, Gold Dust, Dark Horse, Modern Haiku, Carousel, Light, The Lyric, Krax, Orphic Lute, Brussel Sprouts, Stroker, Implosion, Haiku Headlines, Reston Review, Carousel, View From The Loft, The Listening Eye, Gyst, Plains Poetry Journal, Minimus, Potomac Review and many others. Issue 55 of New York Quarterly ran his article, "Shrink-rapt Poetry", in its State of Poetry in America series. He's been featured at readings in Calif., New York, D.C., Texas, Maryland, Florida, Arkansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa and Virginia. He lives with his wife, Pam, a painter, in Reston, Virginia.
Battle of the Body
Night after night I stretch my body out
to sleep, the quiet smoothing over me
As easily as cool water (sloshed into a glass)
topples itself into an unrippled surface.
Then one night nothing is right:
On my back, hands on tummy, formal
as a corpse, toes pushing uncomfortably
against the too-tightly-tucked-in sheet.
If I turn my feet sideways,
the ankles feel askew.
If I loosen the sheets,
my feet feel unsupported, teetering
on unsteady heels. Lying on my side--
one shoulder and arm crushed beneath my bulk...
that can't be right, something will be stunted.
Onto my stomach--now where do I put
the nose, the pillow? I know I used to do this
and breathe too. Head to one side,
the other--I feel like a beast-headed god
on the wall of an Egyptian tomb.
On my back again, now the jaw
won't sit right. Wherever I put it,
it tightens. Ridiculous! I've had this jaw
for years. It was always happy
wherever I put it. I never knew
there was anywhere to put it. Tonight
I find no end of fine adjustments,
like setting the trajectory of a big mortar,
tightening one screw, loosening another,
now the teeth too tight, now meeting
unevenly, now the jaw hanging to one
side...Is there no manual? And I have
yet to deal with the fingers, the toes,
that blaze of energy in the gut, how
to relax and who relaxes what? At last,
I settle for suffering, pick a position,
don't move for a long, itchy time and
hours later find I must have slept,
and next night I plop my body down
to sleep as if I'd been doing it
all my life. How? I don't know.
The body does it. That night,
I must have forgotten to get out of the way.
Without my body, I don't know
what I'd do with my body.