“Straight Shooter” by Bayleigh Cardinal

Bayleigh Cardinal


You are only as terrible as what falls,
like the season’s first kill, gleefully

from the wound of your mouth.
My cousin once told me not to fear God,

and that night I prayed to the graffiti ceiling
Please, no angels, brushed by wind from a window.

Every truth, sheared by the tongue that tells it,
by mirrors glinting like blood in the sun.

I would say to the clouds: rain takes my clothes off.
To my cab driver: another storm coming.

I’ve dyed my hair enough to stain my fingers
blue as an airless sentence

I have kissed too much. I have been in love quietly
with my country. Stroked the taxidermy

of her truth displayed like a sky on my television.
Someone once liked her image enough, limp as it was,

to hold her up in front of me, ask for a photograph.
I’ve cried for I’ve loved my country like a trophy,

like something I’d mount on my wall.

from Poets Respond


Bayleigh Cardinal: “This poem came in response to Anthony Scaramucci’s recent phone call with a reporter. Afterwards, in a television interview, he called himself a ‘straight shooter.’ And now, as of Monday, he’s already been fired.” (web)

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