the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks. This week we are excited to bring you Thomas Hawks’ “Oysters for Breakfast.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.
Oysters for Breakfast
Spent fuel rods dream in their baths
While Sir Laurence Olivier laughs because Tony Curtis
Thinks he means oysters. The green baths
Steam. Nothing in this world can hurt us
But in the next, cloistered fuel rods dream
Of flying over Tokyo. It’s really about sex
Sigmund Freud explained nearly a hundred years ago. I only seem
To be crying. Our safeword is: a tyrannosaurus rex
With the face of Tony Curtis rises out of Tokyo Bay.
This happens every day. And when the first ship disappears
In whirlpools Tony Curtis and Sir Laurence Olivier
Fill their marble bath with tears
And feed each other golden Nashi pears.
This happens everywhere. One night, in Prague
Behind a velvet curtain, up spiral stairs
Tony Curtis unfurled his green flesh like a flag.
It was surprisingly dry. Even the red spine
Quivering beneath the lips of Harajuku girls
In sailor skirts, those pouty lips the shade of iodine-
131, even the tips, even the swollen frills
Were dry. He only seemed to be bleeding and I
Practiced descending by him on the stair. Scarlett O’Hara
Was not more sheer than I. I was all sky.
My pearl gown burned behind me like a cloud, and in my mirror
Tony Curtis wept for the dead. Atlanta. Sendai.
The concrete-reinforced containment tanks are bones, bone-
Dry and fuel rods burst into translucent flames. Is it my birthday?
Oh, you shouldn’t have. The only thing to give to Rome
“Oysters for Breakfast” appeared in issue 81 (Fall 2013) of the minnesota review. Hawks teaches English at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. His poems have appeared previously in the Antioch Review, The Literary Review, the Seneca Review and are forthcoming in Sou’wester and Poet Lore. You can read more from our Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.