Two Poems By Patricia Lockwood

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

He Marries the Stuffed Owl Exhibit
At the Indiana Welcome Center

He marries her mites and the wires in her wings,
he marries her yellow glass eyes and black centers,
he marries her near-total head turn, he marries
the curve of each of her claws, he marries
the information plaque, he marries the extinction
of this kind of owl, he marries the owl
that she loved in life and the last thought of him
in the thick of her mind
just one inch away from the bullet, there,
he marries the moths
who make holes in the owl, who have eaten the owl
almost all away, he marries the branch of the tree
that she grips, he marries the real-looking moss
and dead leaves, he marries the smell of must
that surrounds her, he marries the strong blue
stares of children, he marries nasty smudges
of their noses on the glass, he marries the camera
that points at the owl to make sure no one steals her,
so the camera won’t object when he breaks the glass
while reciting some vows that he wrote himself,
he screams OWL instead of I’LL and then ALWAYS
and takes hold of the owl and wrenches the owl
away from her branch
and he covers her in kisses and the owl
thinks, “More moths,” and at the final hungry kiss,
“That must have been the last big bite, there is no more
of me left to eat and thank God,” when he marries
the stuffing out of the owl and hoots as the owl flies out
under his arm, they elope into the darkness of Indiana,
Indiana he screams is their new life and WELCOME.
They live in a tree together now, and the children of
Welcome to Indiana say who even more than usual,
and the children of Welcome to Indiana they wonder
where they belong. Not in Indiana, they say to themselves,
the state of all-consuming love, we cannot belong in Indiana,
as night falls and the moths appear one by one, hungry.

The Feeling of Needing a Pen

Really, like a urine but even more gold,
I thought of that line and I felt it, even
between two legs I felt it, the legs I wrote
just now, a panic, a run-walk to the private
room with a picture of a woman
on the door, or else the line was long, too long,
I barged into the men’s, and felt stares burning
hard like reading or noon, felt them looking
me up and over, felt them looking me over
and down, and all the while just holding their
they do it different oh no they don’t,
they do it standing up, they do it at the window,
they do it so secret in a three-hour bath, they do it
aloud to someone else, their wife is catching
every word and every word is gold. What you eat
is in it, blackberries for breakfast are in it,
fat atoms of Shakespeare and Hitler are in it.
The sound of water makes me need to: Atlantic,
Pacific, Caspian, Black. I feel it so much because
I am pregnant, I am pregnant with a little self,
all of its self
is that spot on a dog that causes its leg to kick.
It kicked and I felt and I wrote that last line. Even
now it’s happening. I eat only asparagus like arrows,
I am famous for my aim. I get almost none on my hands,
almost. Under my feet the streets, under the streets
the pipes. Inside the pipes a babble sound.

Patricia Lockwood’s first book, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black, is forthcoming from Octopus Books in summer 2012.

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