Micah Bateman

of Iowa City, IA

Winner of the Lyric Poetry Award in 2013

Poem Half Aubade Half Nocturne

 

 

Mother wakes to drowse around the ambling stacks of morning.
Father stalks the market in the black thief's hood of night.
 
Mother nestles deeper in her vulpine fur tonight.
Father tugs the distant kite of morning.
 
Mother splays her Tarot cards: Ten Coins, Hanged Man, Morning.
Father elects the Réti Opening, beginning with a knight.
 
Mother, immodest in her peril, blows a scandalous kiss to night.
Father's sleep's a bug that inches up the twitching face of morning.
 
MOTHER: My white peignoir glimmers like an auroral morning.
FATHER: My latest memoir dishes on the demimonde of night.
 
Mother patters to confessors through the night.
Father's blithering witness must remain alive till morning.
 
Mother sips from the golden Amaretto; it is morning.
Father perishes from fever in the night.
 
Mother with her traveling clothes, her stiff bouquet of asters in the night.
Father, breakfasted on amphetamines, cranks the Klieg light of morning.
 
Mother thrusts her Goodyear blimp: "GOOD MORNING."
Father's foreman bulldozes the spire in Starry Night.
 
Mother's scientist isolates the gene sequence of night.
Father, armored, penetrates the chasmic lymph of morning.
 
Mother vanishes in the faint desoxyephedrine first light of morning.
Father countersan Attaque au Fer—the scimitar of night.
 
Mother basks most handsome in the night.
Father wastes the empire in the morning.
 
Mother's terrible spirit animal: morning.
Father's body immolates like night.
 
Mother sculpts a monument to mourn the fall of night.
Father trips his metronome: morning, night, morning, night, morning.
  
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Carolyne Wright on Micah Bateman

Of all the poems submitted for this award, "Poem Half Aubade Half Nocturne" kept drawing me back with its wit and decorous play, its balance of motifs signaled in the alternating repetends of "morning" and "night" (and one homophonic variant).  I was charmed as well by the poetic choreography between the characters of Mother and Father, who throughout the poem hand off their connections to morning and night to each other:  "Mother sips from the golden Amaretto; it is morning. / Father perishes from fever in the night."  The couplets, and the couple who figure as characters here, twine and interweave in ever-more flamboyant gestures and a cultural miscellany that encompasses the Tarot, gene-sequencing, the Goodyear blimp, and allusions to Wallace Stevens's "Sunday Morning" (white peignoirs!) and Van Gogh's Starry Night.  As a lyric, this poem embodies the pleasure of its play of language and allusion, and also gains depth and resonance in the way it enacts on the page the long minuet of a marriage, taking the measure of the couple's shared and separate existences, in all the strife and sensuality therof. 

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