“Realism: For an Infant Doused in Gasoline” by Andrew Collard

Andrew Collard


The storm front on the news that seemed improbable
appears at the sky’s edge, a simple lie uncovered
like a book hangs from the shelf, pulled out
enough to see. A tooth is pushing through
my baby’s gum, and somewhere the reported crime
spree of two teenage
lovers left a family carless. My wife
found some unknown pods
beneath the park’s brush, but I only wondered
when she’d make me feel less
ugly at a touch. They say
a woman set her child on fire, and I can’t
picture it beyond the graininess of old
cartoons: funny animal, the fumes
light too when your cigarette can’t wait. A tooth is pushing
through my baby’s gum: a mouth no longer known
incapable of biting. She wasn’t where she said
she was, but later, found
those plants are milkweed. I just hear poison,
like a field guide
through a lazy eye. The little objects’
uselessness will go unmentioned, red block
covered in saliva still a comfort. An unfamiliar odor
drifts down in the boy’s crib, and then the distant
rumbling: they say, the state of the union
is strong.

Poets Respond
January 25, 2015

[download audio]


Andrew Collard: “I don’t know what to do in the face of news like ‘a mother set her baby on fire.’ It seems like something a human should be incapable of, but that’s a lie. Every person alive is perfectly capable, and that is why such a news story makes us so uncomfortable. Meanwhile, in Washington …” (website)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a new project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. Our only criterion for selection is the quality of the poem, not its editorial position; any opinions expressed are solely those of the poet and do not necessarily reflect those of Rattle’s editors. To read poems from past weeks, visit the Poets Respond page. Interact on our Facebook group. To have a poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST. 

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