Poets Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer dictated this poem over a sputtering cell phone from the side of the road at Terminal Two at LaGuardia.
Who Has Been Here?
and say ah.
Now mysteriously there are answers
where questions once were.
Please open your dresser
and take out your most unusual forthcoming
and salacious memories. When we asked you
to flutter you simply looked at his loincloth
and voted him most likely to believe in ghosts.
Will cried. Then opening her trousseau
she reminded everyone of her shadow.
Come forward with an electric powered explanation.
On a few of the poems on Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty, Beckman and Rohrer each narrowly evade familiar language by transforming the last word heard. In “Who Has Been Here,” above, the fifth line was about to be the demand to “please open your dress” until an added “er” took the sexiness underground. In the same way, the high school yearbook category in the ninth line was improved from the flat “most likely to be” by changing “be” to “believe.”
“One of us said ‘we’ and the other said ‘ ‘re’ and the other said ‘d’ so it became ‘weird,’ ” says Beckman. “Then the other said ‘lee’ so it became ‘weirdly,’ and the other said ‘ves’ to make it ‘weird leaves.’ When we travel, these are the games we play so that it’s fun. We wrestle with the language.”
Jordan Davis’s review of Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty