Erica Dawson (Featured Poet)

Beauty and the Beast

I like a barrel, not-to-scale, big chest,
But Disney princes don't do it for me.
There's that whole drawing thing; and, please. The best
Beast caught on film, ever, just has to be

Jack Nicholson in Wolf: wolf-running free,
Wolf-feast on James Spader, wolf-nailed, wolf-chained.
Wolf-editor a loose in NYC.
No wolf-waltz: all live happily bloodstained.

There is no beauty: not Belle, nor the waned
Pfeiffer. But, there's the deer that's never caught--
Full moon or not, the animal-ingrained
Instinct: see all you want but don't get sought.

Hon, I'm so list to hunt. I'm by the tree,
The oak with limp branches cracked passively.


Let me explain a barbecue to you.
(One) Lose the corset. (Two) Make your own plate.
(Three) Make you two. Prove Mammy wrong, you true
Hog/field hand. (Four) When full, just shift your weight.
(Five) Never think you're through with turnips. (Six)
You grab those breasts like it's Atlanta's last
Chicken. (Seven) The thigh's better. (Eight) Fix
To get those bones clean quick. (Nine) Men eat fast.
(Ten) Suck it in. (Eleven) Gasp. (Twelve) Drapes
Are your best friend. (Thirteen) It's Ashley's loss.
Go show Rhett Butler all your shimmy's shapes.
(Fourteen) Don't get dirty, but have some sauce.

Boy, I'm no lady for your gentleman.
But I'm civil enough to let you win.

Baby and Johnny

Where do they go when they run from the dance?
Dr. Houseman gives an apology
With no apology. Then, in a trance,
They're back out on the floor. Could Johnny be
More up in Baby's grill, mouthing the words
To a love song that couldn't be more eighties
In 1963? Look at the nerds'
Crew-cuts, rebels in leather jackets, ladies
In bright capris. At Kellerman's, it does
Not matter: rich or poor, you, too, call fall
In lust with zero chemistry because
The dance proves no "Lambada" after all.

I'll call it dirty when they up their game.
My love, for now, scream out my given name.

Maria and Captain Von Trapp

After the sun has gone to bed, these hills
Barely respire. They're almost dead. The sound
Of blue alpine gentian and banksia, ground,
Bright vernal snow is not a murmur. Pills
Of pollen tarnish stones, no one around,
No feet in flowerbeds, no rushing spills
Of springs flowing eternal, nor the thrills--
I ask you where the wind came from? I found

It last December, playing in my head,
Verses with something to be said for giving
Up God and running down a mountain, arms
Open like I set it all free: the dead
Land under Perseus, legs spread, forgiving,
And you, your hands as warm as winter's charms.


An absolution: moon hollows hellbent
On showing me a man in a skull. He lives
Past weekly deaths: his well-rounded whole rent
To shadowed halves. When almost new, he gives
The warning scythe, a waning crescent's C.
I let him off the hook and take his weight,
Swelling the tide to no tranquility.
The world--such perfect umbra--lies in state,
Freezes in a solar eclipse as wide
As one dilated eye. That eye's in charge,
Not mine: asleep or blind, hoping I'll hide
Its death, and close it. Yet, it lives so large
The dawn leaves no solution, start, or spark.
There is no sunlight even when it's bold.
My hands are tied, holding the sky, so dark,
So high, my hands shake. I'm already cold.

I Never Saw

When two stars cross and make a crucifix
Hanging high in a sky without a savior.

The lines extend light years when they affix
Themselves to clouds' wide water drops, and waver

Only if air whips through the white. They break,
Nightly, a million times. The air gains ground,

Then speed. The splinters smooth out to a stake
Deep in the layers of what turns into sound.

Rest, Picasso Print, Ladies Room, Schmagel's Bagels, St. Augustine, FL

I never saw the woman, just a bird
Inside her interlaced fingers. I did
Not see red lips. Her face never occurred
To me. I did see all the black that slid

Under the feathers, lifting them, the black
That opened up another bird's small mouth.
No neck, no breast, no hair a golden stack
Of straw--
                    it's November, it should fly south.

It'd caw. I'd coo. This must be how it feels
To love a woman. She's absent amid
The smell of homemaking, the quiet fizz

Of proofing yeast--yet, in her place, the whiz
Of grounded wings too spread to soar or rid
Themselves of all the rest the dark conceals.

Advanced Directive

after having my non-baby baby

Good god above, here, now,
Promise: baptize my babies in
Formaldehyde, hundreds of twin
Fibroids. Dear Jesus, vow
I'll be "benign," my spawn
All saved at the apocalypse.
Lord, let the four horses make trips
With headless horsemen on
Their saddles, throwing skulls
At Moloch in whom I'm consciousness
Without a body. Grant me this:
A river not so cold it dulls
The senses, not Styx
Or Lethe. Give the Hillsborough,
Where scavenging catfish can grow
Lips so big they can fix
All wounds. A cross breeze whips
The river into swells and wakes;
And every time the water breaks
I take some fifty sips.


Erica Dawson's collection, Big-Eyed Afraid, won the 2006 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and was published by Waywiser Press in 2007. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012 and 2008, Barrow Street, Harvard Review, Raintown Review, VQR, Poetry: A Pocket Anthology, and other journals and anthologies. She lives in Florida with her Shih-Tzu, Stella, and is an assistant professor of English and Writing at University of Tampa. She also teaches in UT's low-residency MFA program. She is this issue's featured poet.


Diann Blakely
Terese Coe
Enda Coyle-Greene
Erica Dawson (Featured Poet)
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Terry Godbey
Tracey Gratch
Athena Kildegaard
Diane Lockward
Mary McLean
Mary Meriam
Jennifer Reeser
Susan Spear
Myrna Stone
Doris Watts
Gail White
Marly Youmans

Mezzo Cammin is proud to announce the third anniversary of The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, which will be celebrated on Thursday, March 21, from 6:00-9:00 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as part of its PAFA After Dark series and in affiliation with its exhibition The Female Gaze. Featured readers will include Rachel Hadas, Marilyn Nelson, and Sonia Sanchez. Also performing will be singer Suzzette Ortiz and poets from the Philadelphia Youth Movement. The event is open to the public.
Jean Shin: Much of my work is site-specific, establishing a dialogue with not only architecture and outdoor spaces, but also the communities that inhabit and activate them. By reinserting used, familiar materials back into the public realm, I invite a large, diverse audience to bring their own histories to the work. Through these encounters each installation forms its own imagined community, revealing new associations and meanings for ephemera, and speaking to our shared experiences.
32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


Barefoot Muse Press
David Robert Books
David R. Godine Press
Graywolf Press
Headmistress Press
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Northwestern Univ Press
Ohio Univ Press
Persea Books
Red Hen Press
Texas Tech Univ Press
Tupelo Press
Univ of Akron Press
Univ of Arkansas Press
Univ of Illinois Press
Univ of Iowa Press
Waywiser Press
White Violet Press

City Lights
Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Joseph Fox Bookshop
Prairie Lights
Tattered Cover Bookstore

92nd Street Y
Literary Mothers
Poets & Writers