Logen Cure is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Still, Letters to Petrarch, and In Keeping. She’s an editor for Voicemail Poems. She curates Inner Moonlight, a monthly reading series at The Wild Detectives in Dallas. She serves as an English faculty member at Tarrant County College and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She lives in DFW with her wife and daughter. Learn more at www.logencure.com

English

There’s no solid description of Grendel, 

but I could imagine

his swampy musk, his breath hot

with rage, drawn from darkness

toward Herot, all the men singing, 

their voices thick with mead.

I also know what joy sounds like 

when it can never belong to you.

 

My teacher said monsters 

make heroes but I figured 

I knew guys like Beowulf, 

all talk and toothy smiles, 

daredevil for glory.

He beat his chest, claimed

he wouldn’t even need a weapon. 

I hoped he’d get eaten.

 

My classmates celebrated 

Grendel’s severed arm swinging 

bloody from the rafters. 

Villains, teacher said,

are integral to the plot.

 

I’d never read a monster with a mother. 

Grendel’s mother is nameless

but her grief-ridden howl

haunted my dreams. Beowulf entered 

her lair under the lake

and I was breathless, imagining

ethereal light and still water,

how her sorrow must have echoed there.

I knew she couldn’t win in a story like this, 

but I loved her for coming close.

Transmission

You have to get the ratio right, Dad’s voice clear 

despite frustration. Ease off that clutch,

give ‘er some gas—damn!

 

The eighteenth time the car heaved

its bucking death rattle, it was decided 

my mother should teach me.

 

You can feel it, she said. You’re just going to know. 

 

How? I cranked the ignition again

and again, What am I supposed to feel? 

 

Windows down, shoes off,

the mercy of the A/C silenced—

 

Just listen.

 

I longed for the shade of bleachers

on the far side of the sweltering stadium parking lot.

 

I inhaled, drew back on the clutch,

let the rising hum of gas to engine vibrate 

inside my ribs, the car rolled, coughed once, 

gained wonderful momentum until

 

I felt the strain, the need

for release and without thinking

 

hit second gear.