Audrey Gradzewicz


Audrey Gradzewicz was born in Buffalo, New York. Her poems have been published by, or are forthcoming from, Southern Indiana Review, Thank You for Swallowing, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact,, Ninth Letter, Mid-American Review, Lockjaw, Passages North, The Puritan, and Smartish Pace.


Song of Marshall Applewhite

- Heaven’s Gate Compound, Rancho Santa Fe, California, March 26, 1997

My disciples who have surrendered
their names for tin consonants,
a pair of black Nikes, eat
air, the poisoned pulp
of apples, nothing.

The comet is coming.

The sky is squall green—
the earth spins to bones.

Say death is its axis,
say death sojourns
within each staring pupil
at nighttime, say
the dead are everywhere,
serving coffee.

Some strange thing tides in me,
terror or grief—

Body of fat
sweet flesh
how I have drowned
in you like the hushed
pale face of the moon
turning dark.

I remember so vividly the Heaven’s Gate suicides playing on the news when I was a child, the image of those bodies in their beds, the eerie tidiness of those deaths. And Marshall Applewhite’s large blue eyes, how mad he seemed. I remember in church learning the word ‘cult,’ learning how Satan led people astray. Years later, I think it is somehow human to be lost, and somehow human, too, to villainize what scares us. I have spent much of the last ten years studying the eschatology of Heaven’s Gate, and what I’m always drawn to is how ordinary its members were, their beliefs strengthened by an ordinary human sadness. And I know Marshall Applewhite too, was only a troubled, ordinary man. I hope I have written an ordinary poem.