Beth Bullmer
Elizabeth Bullmer performs her dynamic, versatile poetry in classrooms, libraries, college campuses, coffeehouses, bars and yes, churches. She lent her strong female voice to Kalamazoo’s NPS teams in 2000 and 2002; she also captured 9th place at the individual World Poetry Slam in 2004. Bullmer has published three chapbooks, including The Woman Poems, as well as two live performance CD’s, including Woman in Progress. She lives in Kalamazoo, MI with her radiant daughters, her amazing husband and the world’s smartest cat duo. Having achieved her most recent artistic goal of merging performance with her visual art, she is currently awaiting the next great adventure.
Beth Bullmer

Every Woman (mp3)


Square, tobacco-smudged fingertips
grip a hipbone too big for its skin,
yellow as a sweet potato pie. The other hand
cooks dinner, feeds the baby,
wipes the sweat from the green cleavage
of her crab-apple breasts, inflating
with each suck of the cigarette,
clenched between teeth as hard as walnut shells,
cracked like the beer bottles smashed
on the cement out back and brown
as the bruises beneath her unfocused eyes,
like black-eyed peas glazed with butter.

Her mama made dinner ev'ry night, started cookin' at noon and din't stop
'til her second husband came home from the fields, late ev'ry time, unlaced
his thick, mud-painted boots, peeled back each sock and sat down to supper
pickin' his teeth with dirt-lined nails, swallowin' whiskey straight from the bottle
to cover the scent of the teenage girl he'd been screwin' in the shed. Ma was
thirty-three with six kids and no payin' job, her husband din't love her,
but she still mashed the potatoes and boiled the grits, sometimes he hit her,
but ma had never learned to drive, so she never left him.

Hands flat and dry as polyester sheets
pack a bag of diapers, jeans and toothbrush,
slam the door, the way he slams his bottle
on the table after dinner, belches long and low
like a zipper opening when he shoves her down
and pumps her like gasoline, his leering mouth
split like the vinyl seats of the pick-up,
the tongue sliding over his lips smacking
like the gravel snapping on the windshield
as she backs away from that house,
her hair as long as a highway and her mouth
a radio, turned up all the way.

- Elizabeth Rae Bullmer