Today I Turn to Stretch Armstrong for Comfort: Poems by Julianna Baggott

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“Today, I Turn to Stretch Armstrong for Comfort”

You
blond and lonesome
………..in your black swim trunks
can stretch and stretch
………..your arms around me.
You are small
and vague  sexually — maybe
that’s one of the reasons why I trust you.

But  mostly  you know what it’s like
to be
underestimated
………………..the constant tests

of your limits
………..what it’s like when people
assume your constitution is made of

corn syrup. Stretch, do you know
why you have
only a green nemesis and a good
dog named Fetch
and no comely stretch-woman?
Did it ever dawn on you
that a stretch-woman
………..would be redundant?           Look at me
Stretch
look at my pleated stomach  my ever-

expanding and contracting milky breasts.
Should I even mention
……….my various roles – bravos
for angel  slut  mother  prude?
You can trust me too  Stretch
because I know
that your ad copy was written by non-
elastic men
………………….brittle as porcelain.

Squish him  scrunch him
……….stretch him out. He always
returns to his orginal shape.

We forgive them — they barely know
they’re talking about
your well-worn soul. If you and I

could return
……….to our original shapes
don’t they know that
we would have by now  and
they would never recognize us
…………………………arms-linked
crossing rain-slick streets
………………..in our rubber skins.

 

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“To my Lover, Concerning the Shaking of the Bladder Rattle at the Maid’s Baby”

Lover,

Pretend I know nothing of babies. My womb
is a Dutch oven –
………………….hot, bright, and hollow.

We should leave the maid’s baby on its blanket
to roll blindly
……….near the hives.

Better that than how I fist-shake
…………………………the bladder rattle
its taut shiny skin, the dried peas clattering within

like lonesome orphans –
…………………like the tiny babies that will not cling
inside of me – or you.

Don’t you see how furious I must look
……………………………………………to the baby?

My head swinging
…………………...like a mad flower
over its pulsing skull? See the baby’s eyes –
merry-go-sorry-go-terrified.

………..We’re better off giving babies
the stiff glance so they fear
………………………….love gone so sour
as caked talcum takes on a foul feff.


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“Lice: A Mother Daughter Love Poem”

We pour vodka over the lice combs
……….red-plastic with metal tines and magnifier.

I give you permission
………..at twelve-years-old
to call the bugs ‘little fuckers.’ We hate

the lice the way we hate
…………………………the cruel girls
at school. We agree we’d like to call them

little fuckers. Our infested heads
……………………………………soaked
in olive oil
………..we sit in the sun

take turns picking bugs
……….from our ripened scalps
dragging out nits –
……….one fine hair at a time.

My heart cramps
………..in my chest because I know
one day
I’ll pine for these vodka-soaked tines

the fine-tooth comb of love
…………………our hair as shrouds
blessed with oil. I’ll miss
…………………each drowned louse.

More books by Julianna Baggott

photo: the ruby ring / flickr

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About Julianna Baggott

Julianna Baggott is the author of nineteen books, including the novel Pure, a New York Times Editor's Choice in development with Fox 2000; three collections of poetry; The Anybodies Trilogy under pen name N.E. Bode; and The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted under pen name Bridget Asher. There are approximately fifty editions of her novels overseas. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR.

Comments

  1. David Karpel says:

    Absolutely wonderful.

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