Deneb in the Swan; Altair in the Eagle; Vega in the Lyre—he brought home a woman

at three in the morning and told me to get out of bed and go sit on the front porch.

I listened to her having an orgasm—

a chord, a jazz chord: three thirds on top of the root.

It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It’s not—it’s feeling.

Vega, in the Lyre of Orpheus, a double-double that looks like two stars but is four,

two and two. Diminished or augmented. The sheets were stained in the morning when I was

let back in the house. So I bought my own mattress and put it in another room. Lyric: one

strum over four strings vibrating simultaneously. One afternoon I took a walk

down the street to buy a half gallon of milk. When I came home I found him

with a new woman. Both were naked in my bed, on my mattress,

under my covers in my room that was separate from his. Of the first magnitude

or brighter or darker.



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About M.J. Bender

M.J. Bender
M. J. Bender received an MFA in Poetry from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Prior to that she received a PhD in American Literature from Columbia University in New York. As an Associate Professor, she taught American Literature, African American Literature, and writing at Madonna University in Michigan. After learning American Sign Language, she taught English and literature to Deaf students in Michigan and New Jersey as well as work as an educational ASL interpreter. Her poems first appeared in ORIGIN as the featured poet when Cid Corman was editor. She has also been published by Mantis, Cimarron Review, RUNES, and the Center for Book Arts in New York, among others. She was born and raised in the Midwest.