“Vagus Nerve” by Lisa Baird

Lisa Baird


What impressed me, while watching the video, was not only that the pug peed on camera for over four minutes, but that he walked on his hind legs the entire time, his bladder capacity exceeded only by his balance & commitment to the performance, and I thought surely he’d been trained, but then I recalled my friend Delainey’s dog who would not shit on level ground, but had to make his statement on a rock, a ledge, a curb, the turd had to land higher than the ground he stood on or he would not shit, and I think probably most of us make life interesting in the ways that suit us, so why would I expect non-human animals to be any different, and all this gets me thinking about the vagus nerve—named for the Latin root vagrant—which wanders from the pleasure centres of the brain to the throat & heart & lungs to the guts & reproductive organs and arrives for its final curtsey at the anus, and how there’s really little wonder that butt play is so damn good, that an excellent shit is satisfying beyond mere relief, delicious enough to make nipples tighten and a chorus of goosebumps sing the length of the body, sing like the squeeze of salivary glands as one hand reaches for the strawberry and the other wipes at your chin, sing like the wreck of mascara at the arrivals gate for the airplane you’ve been waiting on for three and a half months, so maybe this dog had discovered that urinating while walking on his forelegs with his hindquarters arching back, back towards his brain, was his way of vagus nerve activation, the entire glory length of it, so all hail the fluffy internet star and his pleasure, all hail the wandering eccentric animals, we happy foaming beasts, we antlered beauties in our mud.

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016
Tribute to Feminist Poets

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Lisa Baird: “While I consider myself a feminist poet, this means more to me than just advocating for women’s rights. I attempt to use poetry to stand in opposition to interlocking forms of oppression, to break things open, to draw attention to daily violences—recognizing them not as isolated events, but manifestations of broader systems. It’s not simple. But I love how poetry lets us express the brutally complex in wrenching and accessible ways.” (website)

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