poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Hannah Gamble is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (Fence Books, 2012). She lives in Chicago, where she is the current Artist in Residence at the Museum of Science and Industry.

In a Time of War

That was the period when our daughter
would come crying into our bedroom
whenever the grackles began mating on the roof.
It isn’t hurting them, my wife would say,

birds have tiny penises. Then two cats would
find their way into our bushes and start howling
like their skin was being peeled off. Oh, our daughter
with the endless tears. I brought my wife wine

every night for a week, hoping I’d arrange for us a son.
The cats aren’t killing each other, sweetness,
said my wife’s purple lips, it’s just that all male cats,
not just the wild ones, have barbs on their penises.

What what what, sobbed my daughter, is a penis?
A son, a son, a son, I thought, as I held my wife
at the hips, on the floor to avoid hitting
the wall with our bed; our daughter had cried herself

into unconsciousness, and maybe I was sure
she wouldn’t hear when I yelled my way farther
into my wife, my mouth still in a “son” shape.
Our daughter woke herself up with a howl

she didn’t know the reason for, and my wife
turned back at me with several reasons to scowl
texturing her red face. We were covered
when our daughter came in, tears and snot

curling her hair against her cheeks. It’s ok, lovely,
my wife said. I was just on the floor looking
for something and I was caught by a tiny barb.
I took it out, and now I’m going to go to sleep.

Copyright © 2012 by Hannah Gamble. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Hannah Gamble. Used with permission of the author.

Hannah Gamble

Hannah Gamble

Hannah Gamble is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (Fence Books, 2012). She lives in Chicago, where she is the current Artist in Residence at the Museum of Science and Industry.

by this poet

poem

I usually wake up with acquisition
in mind.

I make myself the tallest pine;
I have more birds on me
than anybody!

The sun hits my head
first—it’s cooled a bit
by the time it gets to your head.

I thought I’d get the most

if all the good saw me first
and affably