March 24th: Lawrence Kessenich Features

Stone Soup Poetry meets from 8-10 p.m. every Monday at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery at 106 Prospect Street with an open mike sign-up at 7:30 p.m. On March 24, Stone Soup welcomes the poet and former Houghton Mifflin editor Lawrence Kessenich.

Lawrence Kessenich has published poetry in cream city review, Energy Review and Chronogram. His chapbook Strange News will be published by Pudding House Publications soon. Another chapbook, Trying to Save Jackie Kennedy, was a finalist in the Spire Press Poetry Chapbook Competition in 2007. He has also published essays on CommonTies.com and Arkansas Public Radio’s "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."

Kessenich briefly attended the graduate creative writing program in poetry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He then became an editor at Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston, where he read for the publisher’s annual poetry series and worked with the editors of Selected Poems: Anne Sexton and the author of Anne Sexton: A Biography. He also acquired two Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award-winning novelists and many other fiction and nonfiction writers. He lives in Watertown.

Bombed in Las Vegas

                              In the early 1950s, people in Las Vegas would sit on the
                              rooftops of casinos at night to watch nuclear explosions
                              at the Nevada Test Site 65 miles northwest of the city.

Zombie was the drink of choice as we awaited
the explosion, all night on the rooftop
of the Sands, sports jackets buttoned, shawls wrapped
tight against the cold and brittle desert air

Al and I would have preferred martinis
but the girls insisted we drink with them
and they were girls we wanted to please, hoping
they would please us back come morning.

We had seen bombs explode before, Al and I
all up and down the length of Europe
but Artie, testing A-bombs down the road
told us, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, my friends!”

By the time the dawn appeared, a knife edge
on the horizon, Al was dueling tongues
with Doris , my hand was far up Sally’s skirt.
And then the monstrous thing exploded.

The rumble was like a million tanks rolling
across France at once, the wind like as many
bombers whooshing overhead, the light as if
the earth itself was a cannon muzzle.

And as the monstrous cloud began to rise
like nothing less than Death, himself
I crawled into Sally’s welcome lap
and buried myself in her perfume.

Later, we made love like animals, proving
we, at least, were still alive, unlike the Japs
at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
who suddenly could have been next door.

And when I ejaculated, the white cloud
of my semen mushrooming inside of her
I, who’d said he never wanted children
prayed this explosion would bring new life.

--Lawrence Kessenich