"The Baby," by Joanie Mackowski

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 11 2011 4:55 AM

“The Baby”


Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Joanie Mackowski read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

The bored baby sat on a roof top and cried.
He rattled the moon at the moon-faced crowd

as it cowered in the valley and failed to amuse him.
He ate the bird bones in the history museum

then shuffled the clouds to play solitaire;
he fished for trout in the cold lake of one tear,

but soon this was boring. The bored baby kicked
at a mountain and cooed. A ragged black flock

of crows flapped beside him, rattling its tongues.
Baby’s first word: bored. And the second was danger

the crowd pleaded, Oh baby, please be careful!
He tugged a ribbon of road, wound it round his finger,

watched the wee people in their crumpling cars flutter
like autumn leaves; he plucked the glittering

wings off the sun, tossed it writhing in the valley.
Oh what can we do to appease the bored baby?—

the townspeople cried and longed for the hour
he’d sleep with his arms crooked about a cold star.

Joanie Mackowski is the author of View From a Temporary Window and The Zoo. She teaches at Cornell University.

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