Matt Mason

The Baby That Ate Cincinnati

From The Baby That Ate Cincinnati. Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2013.

Way they say it,
they say
baby
like a storm on the way,
they saybaby
like that’s the cue for the thunderclap
to interrupt the wolves’ long howls,
they say I got three
and they’re the best
ever to happen to me
as they say
baby
same as you’d say “run,”
they shout
baby
like there are flames lickin’ at the window frames,

tell us
how their lives
didn’t just change,
oh no,

as
they
say
baby
like a hyena inside there
comin’ out fangs a-blazin’,
they say
baby
like it’s standing
right
behind us,
that tornado on the highway,
but ain’t
it
a marvel,

way they talk,
give that patronizing nod
when we
claim we still goin’ to poetry readings,
we still goin’ to see movies,
we still goin’
to call our friends
as they say
baby
like a bomb in the air,
they say
baby
like just waitin’ in the shelter now
with AM radio and a can of pork n’ beans

you’re so lucky,
they then weep,
sincerely,

as I sit on the bed,
knees held precious,
watchin’ my wife’s belly,
bigger every day,
wonderin’
what’s in there?

We gonna need a priest, a gun,
silver bullets, wire cutters, 16 gallons a hydrochloric acid,
Red Cross, National Guard, seven million dollars
in non-sequential unmarked bills
because all these warnings giftwrapped with blessings
when I know

ain’t gonna be the same around here;
but

baby,

when we say “baby,”
let’s say it
like we say “bread,”
like “honey,”
like “beautiful,”
like “dear,”
like it’s true.

Poem copyright Matt Mason, used here with permission.