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June 18, 2018 Poetry

Five Poems

Christina Beasley

Five Poems photo

Your baby

Right now, we are supposed to say your baby is beautiful.

Your baby is less symmetrical than a Jackson Pollock.
Your baby’s ears could guide a flight onto an airport runway.
Your baby is similar to a bush baby, but not in a good way.
Your baby is like if a bush were growing out of a baby
but hadn’t caused the baby to pop. Your huge-eyed baby
has clearly seen some shit. Your baby is people in the way
that Soylent Green is people: indiscernible.

Your baby is both ‘too much’ and ‘not enough.’
We are unsure of how to quantify your baby. At parties,
we refer to your baby as ‘the missing link.’ Expeditions
have been devoted to understanding the composition
of your baby and its many unusual features.

When you tell your baby its origin story, you may delicately
phrase it as the stork mixing up the Cabbage Patch
and Garbage Pail Kid trading card decks. You may explain
that most models look like amorphous, hairless ferrets
early on: it’s not so strange, really. Every human undergoes
phases; some get acne, others transform at the full moon.

Your baby frequently requires secondary screening.
Once, they tried to place your baby in the x-ray machine:
we saw it on the news. We heard your baby caused a fifteen
car pile-up when there weren’t any cars on the road.
Yours is the baby to end all babies, which here means
we believe your baby is the herald of the apocalpyse.

We are not sure you understand the full impact of your baby.
Witnesses have changed religion, citizenship, even species.
Your baby has many titles and its reputation precedes it.
Your baby is less of a baby and more of a social construct.
The poetic form cannot encompass it. We are without words.

Our dog show

We used to advertise as the “terrible people convention,”
but patrons realized we weren’t joking and demanded refunds.
Go figure, no sense of humor. I wanted to feel the same
fondness for these folks as I felt for the dogs, but it was impossible.
Their primming and prodding reminded me of birds; the type
that shit on your head with the accuracy of olympic archers.

What really got me was this obsession with purebreeding:
what is wholesome—what is whole—what is biologically
“complete.” What is uniform and constant and predictable.
What is simple. What is uncommon in its commonness.
A mean and a median; the elimination of the range.

Dog shows do not strive for dogs, but the platonic form
of dogs. The Adonis of dogs. A spirit dog that appeared once
in a dream and only pissed on the battlefields of its foes.
A dog that proudly touts its refined oedipal complex
and swings its hips with dysplasia street walkers can only dream of.

Scholars refer to the dog show as a ‘lost tradition’ in the way
that corsets are lost traditions. Or chastity belts.
The dog show defines beauty in the context of what it excludes.
The winner is not determined by identity, but by malleability.
To be best in show, one must be worst in everything else.

It is best if the dog’s head cannot naturally fit through the birth canal.
It is best if their legs are abnormally short, inhibiting swift retreat.
Popular sire syndrome occurs, but it is for the overall best; the best
resulting in ribbons, rewards, and a year of inalterable prestige.
The best of a society that celebrates itself and not its progeny.

The dating game: playing possum

At my best, darling, I am like the possum;
let me tell you why in five hundred words or less.
I can find food very, very quickly. I assume
I am resistant to rabies. I can find my way
through the maze of your heart in record time.

I am fond of destroying ticks; I am also
like a peacock. When things become too much,
I go comatose for at least four hours. I assure you,
it is endearing. The issue will resolve itself.

To allow us private time, I frighten away
unsuspecting hikers. Sometimes they suspect,
and I still frighten them. I am not quiet on the trail.
In this way, I am like an injured billy goat, but I digress.

I am every fascinating, mostly harmless animal.
I am their best friend. I am your best friend.
I tell you these things in the most convincing tone;
I lay myself before you, an offering on a beaten path.

I am what you want me to be. I am infinitely pliable.
Please, believe me. I am vulnerable, it is what is marketable,
it is what is required. Please, take your time,
I am just hanging here by a thread; by a tail.
Vaguely uncomfortable. I lie and wait.

Salt water sweet talk

I am hairpin volcanoes and ugly seahorses.
A rejected and quaking paradise. A pile of aged-rafter
forearms. I am not a house, but a chaos of candy bones.
A hurt like a desperate cannon. Pockets full of escape tools,
of somewhat attractive but disposable things.

A place in you buzzes and I rattle like a hummingbird.
You pray loudly, often, scoop out my caring:
a pulp. The medicine cabinet is a tome that sings
and sighs of this place. I know without ruler
that your fist is the size of my heart.

Small travels

With the fall of the newspaper has come
the fall of the newspaper sailboat. To overcome
this act of “efficiency," many elves now
use aluminum cans for transit. Submarines.
While many were disappointed by the lack
of reading material on the walls, they discovered
something remarkable: inside of each can
were etched tiny, recyclable poems.

While these were absorbed into the bodies of humans
without a thought—steeped in soda—the elves
studied these messages for hundreds of years.
They were often brilliant, and eroded away
due to the great deal of carbonation to which
they had been exposed. It was an incredible tragedy.


image: Orlando Echeverri