after Family Matters

“Family Matters” by Alexandra de Kempf

“Family Matters” by Alexandra de Kempf

Birth dates sprout from our heads
As lottery numbers. Fill in the holes.
Shrug at losing the upper range.
Luck is luck and winning could be
As easy as family love
And the array of digits
Ancients assigned to days
To mark our arrivals, departures
And fortunes like spirals.

Perhaps the history of humanity
Is ruled by golden ratios
Of hermit shells, phallic risings
Of red flamingo flowers,
Lineages of human bodies spinning outward,
Spaceward, 3-D DNA. Forget ladders.

Are you a ladder?
Has your health been hammered?
Is your sight obscured
By capital’s metastasis, brain blossoming
Cancer’s white words: not enough
Morphing into more, more? What’s eating you?
The writing is on the wall.

We’ve stopped reaching for each other,
Prohibited by policies banning touch
Learned by clicking state screens.
Print your HR certificate, file for proof.

Instead, we point, mouths wide, teeth bared
Not quite laughing, perhaps shocked
Or screaming. Do you know a rich man’s body
From his stack of bloody books?
Or her Universal Perfect Breasts from fruit
Or the font of bottles?

Don’t nurse. He owns you.
Gift your kids strange teddy bears
He sells so they can sleep alone.
Nestle in with Ambien.
Get six hours for work. Hope for eight.
Let them cry it out in the dark.
Soon they’ll need only a phone,
A silken screen, a monthly plan
To stay in touch.

Don’t bother counting years
Before your children go.
They fall away like leaves,
Lost lottery tickets
You forgot to cash in.


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