Issue > Poetry
Wesley Rothman

Wesley Rothman

Wesley Rothman's poems have appeared in Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, Harvard Review, Narrative, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Golden Shovel Anthology and Poets on Growth, among other venues. Recipient of a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, Rothman serves the poetry community as editor, curator and critic and teaches throughout Boston.

The Republic of Beat

Here, a pledge to control, surrender
                                                             to another's order. Notes
command legions of players, their made-up general. Then,
                                                                                                the quick roll
& pause of timpani. Sense bent by sound, hollers out of line.
Drum flurries & tone

                                        conduct a lightning—unwieldy lethal jitter—
into harnesses & hardness. & cacophony exceeds its maximum mass
             until the roundness of sound rolls even its conductor
                                                                                                     to submission.
The jumped-up master eyes his maker—
                                                                   black iris of boomtown—hushes
his woofing & joins the ranks of beat-shakers. Shaking
                                                            down the orchestra pit, the bandstand,
the car frame, throbbing
                                      a round gut in time. Beat weaves the air thick
            with rumble, softens the cymbal-shatter, often tames
a cornet's shrill. & outside the concert hall
                                                                        foot traffic trembles the streets.
Guttural engine sputter shudders every avenue,
                                                                          passing riverside cafés,
the cadence of teaspoons and chatter. The beat's citizenry salutes
the current whir humming the surface
                                                              of those dusky rivers, zipping
through bridge mouths, through open strides
                                                                       of the unsuspecting.
              Citizens often forget their country.
                                                                        So beneath throats, bass waits
for bloomtime, where words wriggle deep & unborn.
                                                                                      Under sound, the imperial
hand, façade of fair, the lowest frequencies stir us. We fall shy of perfection

eternally, trying to match the beat beyond our bodies—
            the ancient river flow, language's elusive pulse. & our faith
in rhythm vibrates to a hush.
                                                Even when vibrations go missing,
there is vibration. Even when the foot stops tapping.




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