Poem of the Week | July 23, 2013

This week we offer another new poem from our sizzlin’ hot new “hangin’ hands” summer issue, 36.2. Diane Seuss’s second collection, Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, received the Juniper Prize for Poetry and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2010. Her poems and brief lyrical essays have appeared in a range of literary magazines, most recently in Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, and Mid-American Review.  Diane received the Cultural Center of Cape Cod Poetry Prize in 2011, and the Summer Literary Seminars Poetry Prize. She received a Pushcart Prize in 2012 for a poem that originally appeared in Blackbird.  Diane was the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Writer at Colorado College in fall 2012.  She is Writer in Residence at Kalamazoo College, in Michigan.

Author’s Note:

As a child, I lured adults to my puppet show by offering free beer.  We didn’t have the money for beer or puppets.  I wasn’t lying; I was imagining, which is a form of hope. 

Free Beer

I’m the one who can hold a mouthful of salt.
Bring him here, the fool dressed in prison stripes.
I can pray for him, even though his eyes are wild.
I can de-louse the rat.


When I was a kid I invited them all to a puppet show.
There were no puppets; I’d planned no show.
Free beer, I said, and they came.


I’ve seen a puppet theatre.
It resides in the black cavern behind my eyes.
Thoughts are puppets, dangling from their tangled strings.
Bring him here, the one spinning on gloom’s rotisserie.


I’ll section an orange for the wretched bastard.
I’ll ladle him up a mugful of tears.
Free beer, I’ll say, though there is no beer.