Come-Hither Honeycomb

Come-Hither Honeycomb

by Erin Belieu


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In Come-Hither Honeycomb, Erin Belieu turns her signature wit and intellectual rigor inward for an unguarded exploration of human vulnerability. The poems meditate on the impact of large and small traumas: the lasting thumbprint of abuse, the collective specter of disease, the achingly sweet humility of parenting. The bodies in these poems are trapped, held hostage, bleeding. And yet there is agency—structural dynamism, texture, the color green—while a woman climbs a metal ladder to the diving board, a girl climbs high into the branches. The speaker grapples with a lifelong pattern of brutality, then painfully breaks free.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556596100
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 02/02/2021
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 235,364
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Erin Belieu is is the author of Infanta, chosen by Hayden Carruth for the National Poetry Series; One Above & One Below, winner of the Midland Authors Prize and Ohioana Poetry Award; Black Box, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; and Slant Six, named one of the ten best books of 2014 by The New York Times, all published by Copper Canyon Press. She currently teaches in the University of Houston’s MFA/PhD creative writing program and for the Lesley University low-residency MFA program in Cambridge, MA.

Read an Excerpt

Pity the Doctor, Not the Disease

Science in its tedium reveals that every spirit

we spirit ganks a solid half hour from

our life spans. So says my doctor, a watery,

Jesus-eyed man, and hard to suffer

with his well-intended scrips for yoga

and neti pots, notably stingy with the better

drugs, in situ here amid the disinfected

toys, dreadful in their plastic baskets.

Above his head, the flayed men of medical

illustration are nailed for something like

décor. The eyeball scheme is best,

with its wondrous canal of Schlemm,

first favorite of all weirdly named

eponymous body parts. It’s just a splotch

of violet on the diagram, but without it

our aqueous humors would burst

their meshy dams and overflow. Dust

thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken

of the soul...
is what I quote him

as he thumps my back with his tiny

doctor’s tomahawk. But he’s used to me.

We have an understanding. What he

means to miser, I’ve come to spend

most lavishly. And I feel fortunate again

to be historically shaky in the maths,

enough to avoid making an easy sum

of my truly happy hours, or nights curled

sulfurous on my side, a priced-to-sell

shrimp boiling in anxious sleep.

If we’re lucky, it’s always a terrible time

to die. Better the privilege of booze

than the whim of one more shambolic

butcher shelling peasants in a wood,

our world’s long spree of Caesars

starting wars to pay their bills

in any given era’s Rome. Turns out,

Longfellow’s stomach did for him,

and he died thirsty, calling for more opium.

Free of the exam room now, I spot the same

busted goldfish in his smeary bowl

beside the door where he’s glugged along

for years, a mostly failed distraction

for poxed or broken children. I raise my fin

to him, celebrate the poison we’re all

swimming in, remembering the way

you say cheers in Hungarian:

Isten, Isten, meaning,

in translation, “I’m a god. You’re a god.”


after church, she shucked the grip of shoes, peace beings

of neighbors, the puce-faced elders and pilly felt hangings,

and that soft, sad man with his sorrows,

no business of hers.

Looking up where he drooped, Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,

she thought, choosing one adult fib that seemed, for once, more

possible than not; she felt him contagious, a man with his torso

gouged like that, of no-thank-you troubles and terrible holes.

She was sorry for him, though decided their story likely a lie,

unlikely stories abounding, aplenty, for little girls to buy.

But she wanted no truck nonetheless, nuh uh—and what had she

done?—how bad could she be?—and whose son was this,

this sad, soft man another would hurt like that?

So Sundays, she shucked and ran and climbed,

the birch in her yard no scourge. Who’d put, she thought, a gift

worth having at the end of a whip? Such adult nonsense;

if she needed beseeching, here were the leaves now candling

their verdigris, in spring, where a girl could be redeemed,

only as sorry as she considered necessary, sewing herself into

what anyone who really looked could see was something true.

Reckless, she went, farther, higher, climbing clean into the birch’s

crown, its limbs growing greener and thinner, the girl now certain

it was only a father who’d do that to a kid and call it a lesson.

How lovely that spirit,

this girl at the top, knowing no one could reach her.

Table of Contents

Instructions for the Hostage 3

Loser Bait 4

Pity the Doctor, Not the Disease 7

In Airports 10

Your Failure 12

When I Am a Teenage Boy 14

Hypotenuse 16

The Man Who Fills In Space 19

Dum Spiro Spero 22

Sundays 24

Please Forgive Me All That I Have Ruined- 26

In Which a Therapist Asks for the Gargoyle Who Sits on My Chest 30

As for the Heart 34

She Returns to the Water 37

A Few Notes on the Poems 45

About the Author 47

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