Back to Issue Sixteen.

on greed



Today I want a city. Today I want sugared almonds
in a city, strange almonds, a strange city. Today

I want the diesel smell of a strange city, its strange pigeons,
its strange buildings casting shadows like sculpture,

like scepters. Today I want a strange city to crown me,
I want to wear a strange city like a diadem,

I want to hold the word diadem in my mouth
and know it will never dissolve. I want to break

my teeth on that word and I want to know my teeth
will never break no matter how hard I bite down.

Today I want a jeweled diadem, real jewels and rare,
I want my jeweled head high and heavy, and I want, too,

oxblood boots and late October and a letter
that opens Dear planet, dear smokescreen, and today

I want to be tall, tall in a strange city, tall
and stalking down strange pavements surrounded

by strange pigeons and shadow, today I want
to be a stranger in my own story, heroine

of my strange story, booted and diademed, unashamed
of all this greed, I want my shadow strange

against the sidewalk, so tall, so quick, and though
I almost wrote for the end of this poem

that I’m not even sure I know her, here is my greed again,
and here the right ending: I know her,

I know her, and I hold it in my mouth like gold.

Catherine Pierce‘s new book, The Tornado Is the World, is forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in December; she is also the author of The Girls of Peculiar and Famous Last Words. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry (2015 and 2011), Boston ReviewPloughsharesFIELD, and elsewhere. She co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.

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