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by Karen Poppy
While We Practice Performative Politics
Astronomers see stars spin into dark
This last time, this final time, a river
Never to return—superstition a sighed
Cast of bones, bread, keys to Paradise.
Superstition flung upon flooded stones.
Superstition spreads its sinewy fingers
Over scientists’ mouths, forces babies
Into tortured birth, to breathe burning
Air and die devastated by their own
Desiccated lungs, by their mothers’
Poverty, by our unowned indifference.
Eyes salt-sealed shut, this last time,
This final time, baptized without names.
Eyes crossed, turned inward.
Mind too, even when gazing
Up at clouds, down at ants,
Fingernail slicing through
Flower stems for daisy chains.
Within field of vision, always
Edge of my own nose, everything
Flat. Never understood excitement
Of 3-D movies, round horizons.
Other children called me witch eyes.
I promised to treat you to ice cream
If you told me about Cassandra, and
Even though you did not take me up
On my offer, I'll give you two scoops:
1.) Modern-day Cassandra is not crazy.
People do listen to her pronouncements.
Modern-day Cassandra can choose to speak.
Modern-day Cassandra can bring it all down.
Modern-day Cassandra can also choose silence.
2.) I chose a middle road, saying what happened
Without naming you. Deciding to hold your name.
Not topple communities. As long as you promise:
The buck stops with me. You and your friends
Will not hurt anyone else as you hurt me.
I'm a good person, not 31 flavors or a cold dish.
I can have as many lovers as I choose, and I can
Say what I choose. That does not justify violation.
I do admit, maybe the dish is best served cold.
Would you prefer
A cup or a cone?
"Two Scoops" was originally published in Chaleur Magazine Summer 2018.
About Karen Poppy
A non-binary poet, Karen Poppy’s debut full-length poetry collection, Diving at the Lip of the Water, is forthcoming in 2023 with Beltway Editions. Karen's chapbooks Crack Open / Emergency (2020) and Our Own Beautiful Brutality (2021) are both published by Finishing Line Press. Her chapbook, Every Possible Thing, is published by Homestead Lighthouse Press (2020). An attorney licensed in California and Texas, Karen Poppy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent publication is in Ms. Magazine online (Ms. Muse).