Selections from To Mend Small Children (Forthcoming, Augury Books, Fall 2011)
and From the Standard Cyclopedia (Forthcoming, Black Lawrence Press, Fall 2013)
October 17, 2011
A simple cure for Scarlet Fever
They burned everything
velveteen rabbits and everything
they used plenty of catnip and burned everything
sewn together kittens and everything
they kept the eruptions at bay
throats full-swollen gargled complaints as
red-handed they burned everything
sick children they said smeared yeast
and burnt everything until rooms bare-walled
and only the ghosts of posters
outlined almost yellow where they failed to paint
where they will paint now
that it’s over that it’s burned because
they burned every piece of the child.
How to Make Pure Spirits
This is an uphill battle.
Pour us out like whiskey,
but we will not rectify.
Draw off as pure as possible
our awkward limbs and terrible haircuts
the anticipations of acne
curious swaths of hair. We will not rectify.
Jumbled such we grope
each other. Discover
what everything is before
you can do anything about it.
Even stirred well together we will not rectify
Even cleaned with lime and ammonia and nitrates
we will not rectify.
Stir us and stir us and wait for our lumps
To dissolve homogenous, to rise and bubble
and be skimmed away with stiff rods built for skimming
but we will not rectify.
Pull us out finally, your failed attempt, and we
Have cut into each other, written each other’s names on our
bedroom walls, our bathroom stalls,
our shoulders, our lower backs so you know that we know
what our lower backs are for.
We have made all the same mistakes. Round and red
and full, we are laughing and
you actually think we are laughing at you.
A new Pomade against Baldness.
These are what the men say about us.
They rub their ointments in patterns like pinecones
like Fibonacci. They look down at us.
This is what they say. The Peruvians.
Not to be confused with the Parisians.
All the men.
Spirits of wine. Not to be confused
with the spirits of gin
with the spirits of tonic.
Roses would suffice, this is what the fat men all say
Hands holding tumblers like they could swallow them whole
They say, these preparations are considered valuable.
These are our wars, the men all say.
These battles and they look down
on us like we are pinecone children and
being still children, we look back up at them the same.
Cheap Outside Paint
In your mother’s dress, I say
you look like a whore.
Pencil cut sleeves stretched past the tips of your fingers
shoulders broad and already betraying
we use packets of cherry Kool-Aid for lipstick
rouge (in bulk). Grape to black your hair
that drips tendrils like snakes down your back
expand across the dress like disease. Cancer or what
until you look like we used a brush a common enough brush
coarse (in bulk). When you are gone,
This will be the only image I have left.
It will follow me like a prowling dog.
It will last three times as long as lead paint.
This image will be superior.
I would rather have nothing I say (in bulk) than this.
But following dogs don’t ever listen.
B.C. Edwards lives in Brooklyn. He is the recipient of the 2011 Hudson Prize put out by Black Lawrence Press, which will be publishing his collection of short fiction, The Aversive Clause, in 2012 and his collection of poetry, From the Standard Cyclopedia of Recipes, in 2013. His work can be found in Red Line Blues, The Sink Review, Food-i-Corp, Hobart and others. His short story “Illfit” is being adapted into a piece by the Royal Ballet of Flanders. He is also a Literary Death Match Champion and has the medal to prove it.