Published on Academy of American Poets (

Worst Things First

A bag of thank-you notes fell
on me and that was enough
art for one day. Culturally speaking,
it was more like a year
in the floral trenches, kicked off
with a single boneless kiss.
Poor sad demon in his poor dead tree—
or is it he who pities me, cockshy
quasihero with a latex lasso,
taking forever to measure

the dimensions of his confinement.
Some other demons have smeared a flock
of sparrows on a blanket, the full filthy
price of a sky under which they smoked
their names. My prize is a set
of teeth, striptease at the nude beach,
audio files of decomposing stars
telling me, if they’re telling me
anything, that theory’s just another word
for nothing left to like.


Copyright © 2013 by Mark Bibbins. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 26, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"Last year Melissa Broder asked a pack of poets to write in response to tarot cards; I drew the High Priestess. You may detect in the last lines an echo of a song covered by Janis Joplin, something of a high priestess herself. In her version, Bobby, previously a woman, was made into a boy."

—Mark Bibbins


Mark Bibbins

Mark Bibbins is the author of four books of poetry, most recently 13th Balloon (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). He teaches in the graduate writing programs of The New School and Columbia University, and in NYU's Writers in Florence program. He lives in New York City.

Date Published: 2013-09-26

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