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“Bath” and “Death is Boring”
by Jacob Oet
A porcupine and I take a bath.
He says, snout sticking out
of the foam bubbles like a pinecone
half buried in snow, that I
should look for a boy without a mother,
and write poems to him
about the trace of a mother’s hand
on the wind-swept hair,
about the strength of a mother’s voice
like a bullet through glass.
“Yes,” said the porcupine.
“Write about the speed of a mother’s voice,
that sweeps clean through the window
without breaking it.”
And I ran the porcupine like soap
up my legs and my shoulders,
and the skin was weeping.
From the water stemmed a flower,
from the drain, whose years-later ring
would still have the red stain.
Death is Boring
“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!”
The porcupine and I walk out
during the funeral. A ghost tags behind,
but disappears when we cross
the street. Years pass, we become
traveling magicians. We astound
with feats of clairvoyance:
“Calvin hurries his mom back
to the white cot, lips stained from her
drink at the water fountain,”
intones the porcupine. And I add:
“She shivers and burps. Calvin wraps
his tiger fur coat on her. He leaves.”
We pull clean diapers out of our hats.
We walk backwards. I tell every child:
“Look at the dark changing clouds
that you are.” And when we are
alone, the porcupine sings
walk one way, and never come back.