Come-Hither Honeycomb

Come-Hither Honeycomb

by Erin Belieu

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Come-Hither Honeycomb is the eclectic fifth book of poems from the visionary mind of Erin Belieu. Whether it’s the relatable humiliation of the doctor’s office morphing into a meditation on mortality, a scathing condemnation of abuse provoked by the image of a fifteenth-century woodcut, or a villanelle evoking the tension of hostage situation, Belieu finds inspiration far and wide, casting her sardonic gaze on the world. In what is her most personal book to date, Belieu faces―with courage and candor―her life pattern of brutal relationships, until she painfully breaks free of them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781619322332
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 02/18/2021
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 865,489
File size: 536 KB

About the Author

Erin Belieu is the author of Infanta, One Above&One Below, Black Box, and Slant Six, all published by Copper Canyon Press. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Slate, and The Best American Poetry, and she is the cofounder of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She lives in Houston, Texas.

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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