Four Poems

Peter Bethanis

The Motel Worker

     It is they who have seen the fleeting side of us, the condom left like a snake run over by a car.  It is they who pick up the empty cans refilled with who knows what.  It is they who must take pity on us, the mysterious travelers with our loneliness, torrid affairs or one night stands, a brief indentation of where we slept whipped up out of the sheet, our ghosts still tingling, one purple letter out on a blinking neon sign.


The Great Preparers

     In Kindergarten Mrs. Mickle told me to straighten up in my chair.  In sixth grade Mr. Dennis forced me to open up a frog.  In high school the SAT worked its way into my dreams.  In college I was taught how to prepare for a job.  At work the boss told me to get with the program.  The program taught me how to save for my pension.  The pension would help me when I retired.  Now I am old and my prostate is swollen and I barely have enough energy to write this poem.  How I wish before it all started I had continued to slump in my chair, learned to let frogs live, and told my boss to go to hell.     


The Art of Porn

     Scarlett Maple asks if she should speed up or slow down.  The director, Willie Shakespeare, tells her it doesn't matter, and if she wants to make it in this business she has to leave out the mystery.  But I want my audience to feel my performance, not be bored, not do the same old thing, and Willie gets frustrated and tells Scarlett to spread her legs and groan and Scarlett says she doesn't want to fake it while here partner, Harry Hammer, stands by.  John Holmes had the saddest, most contemplative eyes, Ima Hoar says waiting for her scene.  Do you remember Betty Page? Scarlett asks.  Oh, yes, Ima returns, her voice cracking sweet and high, and Willie Shakespeare tells her to stick to the script, come on now people let's go, places, time is money, and Scarlett breathes a deep sigh and lets Harry Hammer hump her with the same old stuff as she closes her eyes and dreams of the day she can make art in her own way.


Gene Simmons' Tongue

     Hair tied like a sumo, eyes painted to bat's wings, then blood like raspberry jam oozing from the lips, one low E string thumping.  But it was that tongue, something my twelve year old lust couldn't quite figure out, that I'd eventually use on Allison Campbell in graduate school as she arched in ecstasy.  I'd long forgotten KISS's music, but not that tongue flickering like a hungry snake.

About The Writer

Split Lip Magazine

Peter Bethanis’s poems, essays, and stories have appeared in Poetry, Tar River Poetry, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, River Review, Country Journal, and the Indianapolis Star among others.  In 1995 he was selected by James Dickey as winner of the Eve of St. Agnes Poetry Prize.  His poems “American Future” and “Li Hua’s Messenger” have been selected as featured poems on Poetry Magazine’s website.  He is the author of two books, Dada and Surrealism for Beginners from Random House and American Future, a collection of poems, from Entasis Press. He is also a world-class painter and his painting "Awake" is featured below his poems. 

"Awake" | acrylic on canvas | Peter Bethanis