Even the large babes were small.
They were like two empty toilet paper tubes you glue together into a bazooka to blow at the cosmos through. 
They were like hummingbirds on a spit. 
Hummingbirds, goldfinches, wrens—something that’s got its feathers all wet in the rain out there & the wind. 
This was back when I was still so young & even more combustible—when all I wanted was to sit on the ledge to the left there & drink a little & smoke. 
That is, I was a big fretter—I had a worried brain—I couldn’t stop counting what was nineteen inches long—nineteen or twenty—like the foot plus not even the whole calf of my little sister. 
Like certain black roasting pans in my mother’s pantry. 
Like her dark green throw pillows not exactly everywhere. 
Like the trees behind the house that worked so hard to be tall & kill pansies. 
Like the balusters of banisters spinning on the table in the cabinetmaker’s shop. 
Maybe that’s where they’d make the elfin casket, if it came to that. 
I wanted something simple & plain—pine, maybe—something with a texture of goose down as it degraded to sawdust so the baby’s littleness could be married inside that darkness to some kind of softness like frayed wheat. 
This was when I was twenty-two. 
I had, as the saying goes, my whole life to look forward to. 
The new little thing was giggling over there on a blanket—eyeing the world as it flitted & sang.
The new little thing was all hot sequin & dazzle & cute pee flaunt.
Nobody was dying. 
Nobody was even the slightest bit sick. 
Still I sat there wedged inside myself waiting for whatever gods to come on & ruin it. 
That is, as regards the serrated heaviness I seem to have to carry along inside me with its old edge hanging like a leaf from the top of the collarbone to a certain nervy line just above the pubes.
I am talking about what feeling that feels like. 
What having the little ones did to me & how much each trifling half inch as they would grow would ache.
It is twenty-seven bobby pins in a long, bloody row. 
It is a spatula. 
It is a rotting harrow. 
It is the plough & the rake. 
It is the spade.

Hey You

Back when my head like an egg in a nest  
was vowel-keen and dawdling, I shed my slick beautiful 
and put it in a basket and laid it barefaced at the river 
among the taxing rocks. My beautiful was all hush 
and glitter. It was too moist to grasp. My beautiful 
had no tongue with which to lick—no discernable 
wallowing gnaw. It was really a breed of destruction 
like a nick in a knife. It was a notch in the works 
or a wound like a bell in a fat iron mess. My beautiful 
was a drink too sopping to haul up and swig!
Therefore with the trees watching and the beavers abiding 
I tossed my beautiful down at the waterway against 
the screwball rocks. Even then there was no hum.  
My beautiful was never ill-bred enough, no matter what 
you say. If you want my blue yes everlasting, try my 
she, instead. Try the why not of my low down, 
Sugar, my windswept and wrecked.

Dear Mothers of America

As for living to the side of yourself like a pile of rice
                        in the vicinity of the fish (as for being an eye-self
                                    hanging above a body-self

content with separating cowboy stuff
                        from G.I. Joe stuff from Batman boxer shorts):
                                    yeah, I’ve been there, I know what you mean,

don’t get me started.  There were, in fact,
                        ten rooms in one house. 
                                    And dust and a couch and dirt and lamps. 

I was thus the body of the two hands
                        and the body of the feet
                                    becoming somehow

the body primarily of the mouth
                        demanding bleach.  It’s not that I was
                                    pitiful.  It was more like:

who else would eradicate
                        this rotten scattering of skin flakes
                                    and hair and spiders

and such?  Who else would swab the spit? 
                        So sure it was wholesome at the river
                                    when I was a new mom

but creepy is the point
                        to live for the wiping of boots
                                    and the soaking of jackets
with my mouth open and my poor tongue sticking out
                        like I was hoping to comprehend
                                    what was wrong

with being mostly as I say
                        just the eye part of something
                                    soaking in the grimy particles

while all the other girls went on being actual girls
                        and I’m sorry to have to say this
                                    since I know it’s upsetting
but that’s the way it was; I appreciate your asking
                        come again real soon
                                    be careful watch your step.

Status Report

            I love-love-loved the alphabet
back when I could use it to go OMG & WTF

vis-à-vis some shady late capitalist wrongdoing
such as the rich & famous floating off the continent

in the most flagrant of boats, leaving just
the youngsters & me here on the prairie

to keep everything intact with just this sugar on the mantle
in its charismatic tin.  But then the youngsters

got up from the knitting circle & put down their seedcakes
& other organic whatsits, saying OMG & WTF to me

as in in reference to me like what I had on was not just
the dress, the feeling unfortunately was, but also

a shawl as in a cloak as in a stole as in a shroud. 
That’s when I finally knew what animals

youngsters just naturally are.  What piles of tractor parts. 
What fishheads in a sink!  So now I’m using my Rosetta Stone

to examine the language of rhinos for the impenetrable skin
& the language of axes for the battle for when our foes return

to knock down our pretty little door. & here
I just wanted to sit out the rest of my days

with my sweeties by the hearth & talk the talk to hold at bay
whatever apocalyptic thing’s got our number as in our address

as in the extent to which we were born to fight moneyed reprobates
with just our lingo as in our candidness & cheeky verbal fluidity

if that’s what you want to call running out the clock on the ends of things
            in an old lonesome song like this.