Meredith Bergmann

The Stick of Gum

What we store with fugitive flavors: how gum
always faded suddenly, gone from mint to
rubber, leather, vulcanized taffy, junk to
spit in the gutter.

I owned stock my grandfather bought from Wrigley's.
Every year we shareholders got a carton
full of gum, but one product only: Spearmint,
JuicyFruit, Big Red.

How I tired of chewing a single flavor!
That was childhood: small disappointments, whiffs and
dreams of full-blown dividends, adult pleasures.
Then it was over.

When you told me what he had taken from you
did I ask how old he was, ask to meet him?
I have just the residue: after school, we're
thirteen or fourteen

(in his toolshed? some kind of workshop where I
thought or felt that something had happened). I, still
virgin, wear an undershirt, have such questions,
know no seductions.

What he does is offer me gum, then urge me:
"Take another." Starts to unwrap it slowly.
"Taste just doesn't last very long, you know." His
emphasis lingered.

You were silent. Nothing was ever mentioned.
Friend, years later, when there were boys we both liked,
then I got ahead of you, got a bitter
taste of our future:

years of silence. Memory's shares divested,
older now than he could have been that winter,
now you write. I couldn't have guessed how long that
flavor would last us.


It must be spring again, so brief, so fast,
When people long to get in cars and drive
As far as evening's palest purple lasts
To watch through tinted glass how trees revive
The better to feel alive

Or to go soaring eastward on Route 3,
Through meadows that development has missed
Across forgotten valleys lush with green
Containers, drawn by the glitter none resist
Into the tunnel's twist

To where the parking spots are paved with gold.
My niece is singing standards in a bar
And even she by now is much too old
For this old longing: to fade away, far,
To flee, to own a car.

There's a crazy music beaming through the dark.
Where are you gleaming now, my first, my lost
My least owned, stolen, sky-blue Buick Skylark?
Are you on some towering rust heap tossed
Or do you trail exhaust?

My bolder sister parked you overnight
Behind a church in Providence and found
You gone by morning. Vehicle of flight!
Unseen, unguarded spirit of profound
Escape from native ground!

I never drove you to the city then
To sing in dim cafés of things sublime.
You left me with a taste for highwaymen
And one conviction: stalling was my crime.
But you got out in time.

Oh, for a little bottle of your color
To make me shine in spite of my collisions!
I'd paint my toenails with it, in your honor,
the sparkling blue of heaven through my vision's
Aging imprecisions:

A faintly spangled, glistening array.
Then, in an ecstasy of transportation,
I'd run around as though I'd run away.
Teach half your powerful acceleration
To my imagination.


Meredith Bergmann is a sculptor currently working on the FDR Hope Memorial for Roosevelt Island, NYC. Her poems and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Contemporary Poetry Review, Hudson Review, Lavender Review, Light, Per Contra, The New Criterion, The Same, Umbrella and the anthology Hot Sonnets. A chapbook recently appeared from EXOT Books. She is poetry editor of American Arts Quarterly and its website at www.nccsc.net.


Deborah Arnold
Sylvia Ashby
Meredith Bergmann
Carol Dorf
Melanie Figg
Sophia Galifianakis
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Jennifer Glancy
Dolores Hayden
Kjerstin Kauffman
Katrina Kostro
Michele Leavitt
Susan McLean
Ann Michael
Sally Nacker
Stella Nickerson
Samantha Pious
Rita Rousseau
Renée M. Schell
Leslie Schultz
Katherine Smith
Rebecca Starks
Myrna Stone
Chelsea Woodard (Featured Poet)
Marly Youmans


Jenna Le, Anne-Marie Thompson, and Chelsea Woodard join editor Kim Bridgford at the tenth-anniversary Mezzo Cammin panel at the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Sophia Galifianakis was the recipient of the Mezzo Cammin scholarship.

Corpus VI was formed in 2003, when six women figurative painters, who studied together at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, united to curate, exhibit and present our work to the public on our own terms, and launch our artistic careers. The name was chosen because it reflected our shared commitment to figurative representation. Clarity Haynes, Elena Peteva, and Suzanne Schireson were three of the founding members of the group, which organized an inaugural, self-titled show at Philadelphia's Highwire Gallery in the spring of 2005. The exhibition essay was written by Jeffrey Carr, Dean of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The exhibition was very well-attended and reviewed in several art publications.

The experience of working together to successfully realize this exhibition, as well as the continuous dialogue and exchange of ideas on contemporary figuration, has proven to be greatly valuable to us. Ten years after graduating from PAFA, as our careers have taken us to different locations across the United States, three of the original members, Clarity Haynes, Suzanne Schireson, and Elena Peteva, have come together to reinvent the collective by inviting one artist each to be part of this exhibition that will begin at the New Bedford Art Museum in fall 2015 and travel to other institutions.

Holly Trostle Brigham, Stacy Latt Savage and Laurie Kaplowitz are professional figurative artists, whose strong artistic visions enrich the collective's range and explorations of contemporary representation. We are excited at the prospect of seeing our work all together in new configurations, creating new dialogues. Holly Brigham creates imaginative, narrative watercolors, which tell a feminist story, inserting her artistic persona into art historical narratives and mythologies. Laurie Kaplowitz uses textured paint to create personages that hint at the soul within, alluding to rituals of marking, scarring and adorning the body as an integral part of our human identity and presentation. Stacy Latt Savage combines figurative elements with fabricated structures and shapes to create objects that capture what it looks like to feel human and the complexities of our human condition. Clarity Haynes casts new light on ideas of beauty, femininity and embodiment through her realistic painted portraits of the female torso. Elena Peteva creates allegorical representations of our individual and social states through the human figure and subtle, charged, incomplete signs that invite the viewer's attempt for interpretation. Suzanne Schireson is influenced by her great-grandfather's autobiography as an early plastic surgeon and her paintings examine contradictions surrounding the birth of cosmetic surgery, such as the power to heal and the fostering of insecurity.
32 Poems
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