Photo by DEA / V. GIANNELLA via Getty Images.

Three Poems by Kay Billie Oakes

The Mouth

They were like monsters
with an axe to grind their teeth to points.

To winding practical spires. To kingdoms
in their skylines of gumroot, the horizon in.

Maybe dipped in the molten gold that’d just blind you off the sun
that never set, it cooled and delivered their vertices to fancy fancy.

Every blessed bite they took left a resplendent impression,
a code for folks to know. Battered into this surface or
that surface with valley-fine points. Music.

And to think.
And to think it.
And know it damn well.

To know the stone for building was immemorial
and new, once fresh-cut
stone cut with stone-cutting tools that were
made of cut-stone.

Grand

If your damn problems are so damn grand, then get a grander god
to eat them whole – beef and bones and eyelashes and and.

Anymore, it don’t even barely chew – just cocks its head back
and knocks it down. Got it all over its damn face, even.

Just plain shot to ribbons and rags,
Ma ’maw made good on those songs she used to sing

out back by fire light.
Before and during the wringing

of one fowl or another.
Same as with a gun,

whistlin’ in the stinking old dark.
Now you’re just talkin’ rot.

Now you’re just clownin’ around.
Now you’ve made little mince desserts by hand

in the loud dark.

The Finer Logic of an Edge

The one who lives within what is by its own hands
becomes well-accustomed to the overgrown
grass outside and to what lives within it.

They’re rarely alone. Fruitful and multiply,
and in structure and in a kinder climate
they’ll cook to boilin.

A hatchery of fruit flies.
The ones are inside.

Their big ol’ saucer eyes do know the window glass for seein.
Their pink hands do know the blade.

And so, may it become they. May they eat
those small things that live within the small grass
by their blade,

and may their blade be the instrument of civility
before the grass and its babyfolk
get too big for their britches.

Oh, but God help it if there ain’t no sugar for taste.

  • About

    Kay lives and works as a teacher in South Texas. Aside from poetry, Kay writes fiction and just can’t stop thinking about coyotes. Kay’s writing can be seen in upcoming issues of formercactus, Corvus Review and Menacing Hedge.