“The Doors” by Michelle Bitting

Reading by the author

Some say walk through one you’ve never walked through before
and I’d like to do just that
travel to the Western Desert of Egypt
slip myself into some ancient geometry
a pyramid or dune—all that time made
of sand of centuries rushing through me
my body a small glass sun
extinguishing—searing a hole
through epochs and truth—Cleopatra
and her radical blunt-trimmed
brunette hairdos fabricated
in Hollywood Boulevard windows
where The Doors used to wander
after their epic sets at The Whiskey
Jim Morrison straddling the mic
in his skin-tight jeans a human
tube of lip gloss rising from the sea
of salivating fans—peanuts on the half shell
Surely he knew something about
clicking cosmic doorknobs
floating godlike in the passageways
like in the cisterns of Istanbul where
you can walk to the end of one dim-lit plank
find the giant carved head
of an inverted Medusa
and feel like maybe you do now
right side up in the upside down
where we’re not supposed to be
sharing cans of salvaged integrity
the last meaty bits passed around a shadow fire
to keep blood and spirit flowing
freedom or death that depends on timing
on truth on who’s in charge or I suppose
how many drugs you might take
to feel like a rock star
Jim’s frame
or a Ptolemaic queen
just passing ships
launched in the watery Nekyia
of a Parisian bath tub
of a civilization for instance
the body is sacred
worthy of fighting Pharaohs for
of lighting candles to
never mind ripples
gathering—the face—its tint
origin or shape
which are just measurements
of the physical world
reflected by light and time
but are not light itself

Michelle Bitting was short-listed for the 2020 Montreal International Poetry Prize, won the 2018 Fischer Poetry Prize, Quarter After Eight’s 2018 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest, and a fourth collection of poetry, Broken Kingdom won the 2018 Catamaran Prize and was named to Kirkus Review’s Best of 2018. She has poems published in American Poetry Review, Narrative, The Los Angeles Review, Vinyl Poetry, The Paris-American, Love’s Executive Order, The Raleigh Review, Green Mountains Review, Plume, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. Recently, she was a finalist in the 2020 Reed Magazine Edwin Markham Prize, as well as the 2019 Sonora Review and New Millennium flash prose contests. Michelle is a lecturer in poetry and creative writing at Loyola Marymount University and film studies at University of Arizona. 

Image: “The Tardy Crooner” by Nicole Monroe

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