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Julie Bonaduce


Julie Bonaduce writes from Portland, Oregon. She's a poet, essayist, musician, graphic artist, web designer, victim of a severe caffeine jones, and complains of hairy knuckles (though refers to the condition as Being Mediterranean). Julie's work has been published in The Cortland Review, Optic Magazine, Rant, Samsara Quarterly, Poetry Magazine, and many smaller publications. Her artwork was most recently featured on the cover of the October 2000 issue of The Missouri Review. She has two chapbooks ("Magdalene's Daughter" and "A Few Thick Seconds" to be released in Winter 2000), and an illustrated children's book titled "The Moon Would Follow Me Home."


Elysian Bar & Grill

Is it a relief to you, God
to pester me with lint, with secrets
always others' secrets that you
know already? Some bartender
you'd be - serving us up our trials
like a Gordian knot on the rocks.

It's hearty tuck and roll in your lounge.
Some bogus tint tampers
with the prairie sky in the mural; makes it
too fresh, immediate, wrong.
You shake a holy martini and ask
"why the long face?" even though
you know in these
immaculate circumstances - know
that I have no peg to
hang a dress on
of gauze, the filmiest.

So you'll shake one for the road;
a cash-n-carry of
catnip, of postscripts and
self-mutilation the old way:
on your answers
that protrude like a bayonet from a shawl.

For the good eggs, the explanations are
honey-roasted, chocolate covered
in a crystal bowl at the fingertips.
No commonality. No lint. No secrets.
The rest get dry pretzels, busy being
grateful to be here.

© Julie Bonaduce


A slip of something
crosses the street.
She is made of angles and math:
Protractor elbows, plane face.
Tossing her head, the hair
does an angry cartwheel.

From this angle, you can't
see her that clearly
but we often sit on the fire escape
outside her apartment.
We watch them and talk.

They buy dope
we believe
at the house across the street.
We see cars in all stages of
spit shine and disrepair pick it up
and drop it off.

On Wednesday,
I toss her my car keys
say that she needs to get out more.
She laughs like a broken window
reminds me that she can't drive
"Jeeze, I'm only 12."
So we change the subject
and from the cup of a bony palm
she bums another cigarette.

© Julie Bonaduce

Mary, Mary

Tending the garden of noise
where I grow the traffic
and church bell sanctity
neighborhood boys are weedy
in a windowbox that
gets the light

Police whistle spills yellow
over the edge
and tangled-thumb piano scales
are greedy for
in the firmament that
sprouts sound

The Jesus-shouters lend
righteous purple glory but
a mile-away tunnel is train torn
and overruns my work
the tracks are worn and sore
its vine rattles 'cross my floor and
blooms in my bones

© Julie Bonaduce


We swam in the huge pit
out behind Tin Lizzie, (at least
that's what we called it then)
the ferrous Golgotha where
most of our fathers prayed all day.

Now there's a hole in the air where
the silver k-chunk! would be
nightmares in the shape of
snips and hammers shaping the
mettle of our lives.

I can smell our skinny, salty bodies
before sweat turned to something
goatish; before we had to be modest
since all arms and legs and torsos
were the same. Our slick piglet squeals were
threaded between the metal rollers as we

jumped into the cold quarry water
knowing in some kid sense that our
fathers would thrash us if they knew we
were there.

Michael's dad was killed that summer.
He was a string, a button, a sleeve,
then nothing.
I don't remember if Michael cried at the
die-cut company funeral, but I can still
see how strange and small he looked
way inside that suit, behind the clip on tie;
how he seemed to even wear the silver sound
of Tin Lizzie on his skin
banging and snipping a mile away.

The tin lilies hadn't even begun to
rust before Michael and his mom
drove off. Past the quarry, past the
the good things of childhood drowning
in dark blue suits;
we didn't talk about him afterward.
It's the talisman we held between us
the tacit understanding that if we
didn't speak of it,
it wouldn't happen to us.

Our fathers,
who aren't in heaven,
would still come home
maybe even to thrash us for being
at the quarry.

© Julie Bonaduce/Damnosa Hereditas

Pollock Paints The Confessional

There was the name I stole from you
and took with me all the way from
California to my wrist
like lavender oil, breathing
behind this picture window
in deep Ellington chords

There was the lie I told about my beauty
and how I held the lie up to myself
in the folded mirror like a swath, a bangle
for your perceived need and mine wounded
redemption spinning out a skein of strenuous
black calligraphy, oceanesque in
thick forgiveness

Then of course, I covet. And I kill.
Covet the wonder reeling as delicate as
tiny spindles of branches, hard
as unrequited, soft as a mouth. I kill
reason and sense; have buried them
with no remorse. Kissed their picture and
crossed myself, your myrrh on my fingertips.

© Julie Bonaduce/Damnosa Hereditas

Mary Hedger's Place On April Fool's Day

At a party that neither of us
wanted to attend:
Relatively speaking, you're
only half-a-step farther away
from me than usual
but it translates to another planet.
I'm a scooped-out tree; drying,
waiting for some painted
warriors to row me in
to a new purpose. They'll be full
of fire and spit not unlike my
own, which they dug out. Come
back so I can feel again.

The pretty party planet that
you left behind is gray. It seems to have
exploded in drunken flowers all vying for
attention. But in gray light, even the
brightest purples are reduced to a
shallow and meaningless mauve.
I can't tell if everyone sees it this way, or
if the flat silver light is coming
out of me. Come
back so I can see again.

Maybe your movement did something
to the sun. Your gravity is stronger
and you pulled it a few hairs off of plumb.
Now I'm having earthquakes and floods.
I'm having people running mad in the
streets, tearing at their clothes and babbling
even more incomprehensibly than
usual. Governments are
falling, shoelaces are
breaking and there's
nothing I can do. Come
back so I can sleep again. And

bring a glass of that Cabernet, the
one with the blue label.

© Julie Bonaduce/Damnosa Hereditas

Esther Weeps

She said the Archangels
Michael and Gabriel
came to see her every night.

The church of LDS was less
than pleased
with the fact that
she was chosen above
the pious and saving and deliberate,
suggesting that she seek chemical
pillows under which to hide
from these visitations.

Michael was demanding; jealous
more than curious
about where she spent her
other affections.
Gabriel made her feel secondary
not far from what
the kids' dad
imposed, but somehow

The church said,
"stop them from loving you,
or lose your children -
we can't have archangels out
loving ordinary people like you
polishing their ivory candlesticks
trumpeting their preferences in contrary
to what We profess."

An effort was made
to stay medicated.
"Don't tell the brothers,"
she said. I love my babies
but I get lonely.

© Julie Bonaduce/Damnosa Hereditas

U.S. History

Mr. Henderson
smelled vaguely of cheese
and Hi-Karate.
He didn't wash his hair as
often as he should.
He had a twitch that caused him to
flex his ass, giving him the appearance
of humping the chalkboard, or the
air in front of 24 seventh-graders.
If you are 12 years old in 1975, you
know this is funny, but you're
not sure why.

Perhaps out of habit
upon completing the twitch
he'd immediately brush
cheese-flavored hair across his forehead:
just above the brow line, right to left,
run it between the second and
third fingers of his right
hand it was all the same motion never
skipping a beat between
Madison and Jefferson or details of
the Louisiana Purchase.

He was a good man.
Still I wondered about his wife in a
connect-the-dots way.
Wouldn't she rather be with
Mr. Just-Out-of-College, He's-Not-
Much-Older-Than-Me Zandoli
in his 5 o'clock shadow on his
blocky 9 o'clock jaw? Or to try out
Mr. Perkins who'd recently cuckolded
Mr. Glauner math and science duking it out
on the playground of Mrs. Glauner's long
PhysEd torso.

© Julie Bonaduce/Damnosa Hereditas

Diamond Sutra

An impossibly blonde Jesus steps
up to the Mudville plate
swinging his turnkey providence
knocking Calvary from his cleats

Rowdy boosters spill cola, rend their clothes,
shout in mysterious licorice tongues for this
unspeakable congress with the
sacred slugger

The pitcher wears an emerald snake
around her arm
she shakes off a sign or two
ignoring first the locusts, then
the burning bush
opting for the inside curve

Jesus mutters something pithy
to the squatter, blessing and
assuring him that his services
won't be needed, as
this one's going outta the park

But, caught in Magdalene's wind-up
her shiver, her twist, her magical shibboleth
scored by tiny brass ankle bells singing
fire into his brain
he swings...

...high and inside

© Julie Bonaduce/Damnosa Hereditas