Erica Bernheim

Amplexus 1980: Sunshine Skyway Bridge



Kermit, how you have misled me

with your human clothing and gentle

manners. For you, every body of water

can become a quaint fishing village


at dusk or dawn. Into fog and towards

accidents, I followed your lead. I

plummeted, all the while believing

invitation made up three tenths of the law.


Like a Kansas City disaster, but over

water and causing a different mourning.

A bike assembled from parts is called

a basket case. There are still men so


afraid they will not board trains or cross

bridges unless they can hide in trunks

or window-less toilets. Kermit, your

trenchcoats gave you away. You slammed


a vacuum cleaner through the walls of

your doublewide in the name of hard

work. You left early for this commute.

Your phone sounded different when it rang,


like people were piled on top of it, but no

one was home. It was a big, ferocious bluff.

Cement. The Zoloft bouncer at Club

Depression. A memo you never wanted to get.




[At the consulate, the workers are only hired short-]




At the consulate, the workers are only hired short-

term, so as to prevent them taking bribes to do favors:


In Florida, we are re-defining film noir: the traveling

electric chair, the barbeque pit, the streams of all these


different dead people we once were: babies, teenagers,

something always propelling repellent motion. For us


to live, the hosts must die. It’s better to burn blueberries

afterwards than to re-harvest their pasts. It’s like making


a feast and dying before you have to clean up.

I’ll see you at the liquor store and raise you ten points.

Erica Bernheim currently teaches English at Florida Southern College, where she also

directs the creative writing program and the visiting writers series.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, The Kenyon

Review, New Reader Magazine, DIAGRAM and The Missouri Review.