Lines from Billy Collins, Robert Browning, and Script from Legally Blonde (Exquisite Cento Project)

by Andrew Beckett Gibson and Zebulon Huset

Valor lies in bed listening to the rain
as we wind through a flock of abstract, silky, golden strands
                               then a mile of warm sea-scented beach
                                                that made up the miniature town.

The card goes one way, being signed, as the drinks go the other
                                thinning away to nothing,
                                            a salad bowl filled with cash—
                 think of an egg, the letter A,
                                                 with shrieking and squeaking.

You are the rapids, the propeller, the kerosene lamp
                                                (The reporters laugh as they snap pictures)
                you are the dove-soft train whistle in the night
hugging her knees and cowering in a wretched little ball.

He swims in candlelight for all to see,
                                (a cop stands guard at the door)
his death had pages, a dark leather cover, an index,
                                                                  with milky admiration
                (no wonder I find him in the pale morning)
                                                and blue spurt of a lighted match.

You are Jean de Brébeuf with his martyr’s necklace of hatchet heads.

                Outside was all noon and the burning blue,
                                                eating popcorn and drinking red wine.

                                Something is always missing:
his twenty-seven year old daughter and the pool boy.

                 But—all the world's coarse.                Thumb
exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy
                                in his hybrid creole accent.
His dead body                         with a bullet in it
                                              with a beauty queen smile in place.
                 It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen,
a hook in the slow industrial canal below.


Andrew Beckett Gibson studied creative writing at North Carolina Central University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Collidescope, The Bookends Review, Random Sample, Always Crashing, and Heartwood Literary Magazine.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review, & Texas Review, among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at