Broken Chord

By Lillian-Yvonne Bertram & Steve Davenport

You are the woman

from the television show who would rather

be sedated than cry—my one friend

always this species of correct

analysis and application, all eye

and murder where blues concern.

Yesterday went wrong and tomorrow’s

a scene you won’t want to live to. Like the queer

girls who bite the bitter stream of marriage

and manage, we sharpen our thirteen ways,

blackbirds scattering back into focus, before

we leap into what little moonlight

can romance—He said he God

and fall, butcher scraps for tubs,

offal for new skewers.


Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is the author of But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press), chosen by Claudia Rankine as winner of the 2010 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press), and the forthcoming personal science (Tupelo). She teaches at the University of Massachusetts—Boston.


A product of American Bottom, an Illinois floodplain across the Mississippi from St. Louis, Steve Davenport is the author of two poetry collections: Overpass (2012) and Uncontainable Noise (2006). His poems, stories, and essays have been anthologized, reprinted, and published in scores of literary magazines both on-line and in print. A recent story in The Southern Review received a 2011 Pushcart Prize Special Mention. His Murder on Gasoline Lake, published in Black Warrior Review and later as a chapbook, is listed as Notable in Best American Essays 2007. At AWP Chicago in 2009, he had the honor of organizing and moderating a tribute to William Gass with participants Mary Jo Bang, Kathryn Davis, Gordon Hutner, and Rikki Ducornet. His scholarship includes essays about the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac, and Richard Hugo. Recently he’s gotten involved in songwriting projects. One example is Art Box Collective. Another is the collaborative work he’s done with Bruce “Bruiser” Rummenie on This Noise in My Blood, a CD of seven songs.

Davenport has also co-authored with wife Lynn four daughters, ages 15, 13, 11, and 7 (their names, One, Two, That’s It, and This Isn’t Funny Anymore). He likes his coffee black and his George Dickel (Old No. 8) poured hard over chipped ice in his favorite glass. His mantra? If he had one? Whiskey cleans the whiskey glass. You can find him on Facebook and at his shiny new website Gasoline Lake.