Providing Poem

By: Sarah Cook

for JN

small seed like a fossil, a
bitemark, a name:

until she grows tired
of laminating goodness, planting
signatures in the garden of public

               finite, historic, lamentable

photo of her looking like Joan of Arc if Joan of Arc
had hair for miles, refused
even a sarcastic smile, bent
flowers into metal

on the billboard, she pretends
to flatten, discovers want,
foregoes the product entirely

the walls make up the ground
the edges, shifting
desire through permanence

there are products she
refuses to look at
anymore, whole kingdoms
of clothing that clothe
someone else, certain

angles at which she can’t
be seen, eyes open or

these days, every poem becomes a list
safe space in the near invisible line break

produced and then
produced again:

the secret to
making a circle
is turning

the secret to
making money is

the secret to
not writing
the poem

what if preservation or
provision, direction or

what if strength
is not the core
of strength?

the secret to not orbiting
is planting your heels

while the men become apertures

        soft, absorbed

while the men stand in rows
muscle, glue, profession

the men are so

the men belong
behind glass


Sarah Cook’s writing has appeared in The Feminist Wire, many gendered mothers, ASAP/J, Illuminati Girl Gang, and elsewhere. Her essay, “The Future of the Lying Body,” was named runner-up in Black Warrior Review’s 2016 Nonfiction contest, judged by T. Clutch Fleischmann. She lives in Oregon.