Roy Beckemeyer

Roy Beckemeyer
2 Poems

Poem Written on the First Anniversary of My Son’s Death

Faces unmasked, they gather en masse,
seem inured to, or ignorant of, the ways of a virus
that seems to think for itself, that considers
how easily, while its hosts ignore it,
it can go forth and multiply.

And though it does not read, neither do
many of them. They do not listen, think
only of plots. They do not listen, believe only
in conspiracies. And when bodies are dropped
into open-pit graves they avert their eyes.
No worse than flu, they say.

And their leader nods and bobbles,
shows them his way,
lulls them back to sleep.

Meanwhile, bodies have lain undiscovered—
all these wasted days when
not one of us thought
to think of them.

—After Jay Hopler’s “Poem Written on the
First Anniversary of My Father’s Death”


We All Breathe

We all breathe.

We breathe in time with our mothers; we are small moths at their milk-flower breasts.
We breathe in polyrhythm, one breath for each five heartbeats.
We breathe in—lungs unfurling like time-lapse images of blooming hydrangeas.
We breathe in, speak out in myriad tongues.

We all breathe.

We breathe raucously—first breaths bursting from aquarium wombs.
We breathe haltingly, guts sucker-punched by fear.
We breathe lavishly, savoring lovers’ exhalations.
We breathe guiltily, watch confessors’ eyes blink, then widen.

We all breathe.

We breathe out the way stampeding stallions raise haboobs to stun the desert’s sun.
We breathe out the seawater spume of the nearly drowned.
We breathe out crystalline clouds, the wage of winter’s reign.
We breathe out, accordion ribs shrinking like street musicians’ squeeze boxes.

We all breathe.

We breathe through masks meant to confuse contagion.
We breath at distances that allow our plumed breaths to wither between us.
We breathe through ventilators—our lung sounds, machine-like, hiss and skirl.
We breathe for those who must take their final breath alone.




Roy J. Beckemeyer is a retired aeronautical engineer / Boeing Company executive. In his post-professional life, he has been a scientific journal editor, a researcher who has studied extant dragonflies and Paleozoic fossil insects. He has described and named from fossils more than twenty new species of Paleozoic insects. He is also a nature photographer, writer, award-winning poet, and poetry and literary reviewer and editor and has done book layout and design. His poems have appeared in half a dozen anthologies and many print and online journals. His debut poetry collection, Music I Once Could Dance To (2014, Coal City Press) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (2017, Little Balkans Press) with Kansas Poet Laureate Emerita Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) is a chapbook of ekphrastic poetry inspired by abstract and impressionist artists’ depictions of angels. His latest full-length poetry collection, Stage Whispers (2018, Meadowlark Books), won the 2019 Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award. Visit Roy J. Beckemeyer’s site.