“B-Word” by Judith H. Montgomery

Judith H. Montgomery


after a line by Joy Katz

Some words cannot breach the box of the poem.

Box may be admitted, as in boxing match.
Or box of matches. Bomb, as in Brussels.
Put a b___ in a poem, and watch it …

blast. Bodies littering a shattered airport
(apartment, corner deli …) floor. Breached
security, then bleed-out. Bandage: blanket

grabbed to wrap a burned body. Because
break. Blow. Boast. Boundary. Brothers.
Brandish. Bitch. Beat. And body count.

The territory of the poem confiscated by
genes that read XY XY XY: Boy. Who
clutches the ball—or was it bomb? beneath

one arm, as he batters shouting to the goal.

Some words bawl into the basket of the poem.

Birth. Breech. Breast. Belly, blooming. B___.
Put a b___ in a poem, watch
it fall … Bless. Bubble. Bib. Bawl.
Balm. Menses: monthly blood, that impure
(maculate) stain.
Versus Mary immaculata.

Proscription: no kid, no pup, no apple
of the eye. Put a b___ in the poem, and watch
it fall like a stone …
No diaper. No shit. No fond toddle—
no bless, no bliss. No public cradling
of the lively arrival.

No X and O, kiss and cuddle, no
voicing by the body bearing two XXs
wound in the promise of the double spiral.
No as though to blot out

the body of the b___. Put a baby in a poem
and watch it fall, like a stone
through wet tissue.
I bring forth no stone,
but a manuscript of genes,
scroll intricately sheltered in the blanket
of blood and balm.

Birth: origin of every one of us, XX,
XY. Bidden, not forbidden, words
called to celebrate every messy
entrance. Embodiment. I will
bring a baby into this world
of (war) (wrath) words.

(All words uncoil to bloom in the womb of the poem.)

Poets Respond
March 27, 2016

[download audio]


Judith H. Montgomery: “This poem written in response to the most recent bombings in Brussels and in defiance of what may be to come.” Note: The quoted line is from an interview with Joy Katz.

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