NEA Literature Fellowships

Gary Duehr

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(2001 - Poetry)

Connie Stevens is flying over the Pacific Ocean

Connie Stevens is flying over the Pacific Ocean
in the dead of night, on her way
to entertain GIs. She's fast asleep.
Still, Bob Hope sways
down the aisle to jostle her shoulder: Come on,

kid, Hope jokes, we'll fly first class
the next war.
He leads her
to the cockpit microphone in contact
with a troop ship, barreling through the black mass
30,000 feet below. Why don't you talk

to them, doll? They haven't been home in months.
Connie Stevens straightens
her coiff, blinks her eyes wide, & mouths,
Hi guys, glad to be here. Is it ok
if I sing?
A rain

of Yeahs echoes back. Connie Stevens clears the phlegm
from her throat, & starts to sing how much America misses them.

Real Audiopoem read by the author

Gary Duehr lives in Boston, where he is a photographer and visual arts critic for journals including Arts Media, Art on Paper and Frieze. Duehr is also the cofounder and codirector of the Invisible Cities Group, which combines poetry, performance, and installations of visual art in large-scale urban detours. His collections of poetry are Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999). Journals in which his poetry has appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Hawaii Review, Iowa Review, Southern Poetry Review and Texas Review. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.

Author's Statement

"Connie Stevens Is Flying Over the Pacific Ocean" is from the manuscript Beautiful Bullets, a work-in-progress that the NEA Fellowship will help me to complete. A book-length poem, Beautiful Bullets examines what went wrong with the 60s, and why - as well as searching for echoes thirty years later. Its kaleidoscopic perspective ranges from Lee Harvey Oswald interrogating himself to a dialog between Queen Victoria and Che Guevara; from LBJ's dream of landing on the moon to an ex-student revolutionary looking back on 30 years on the run.