Come Be a Monster with Me

Come be a monster with me.
Uncomb your locks into hissing ropes,
freeze the bastards into rabbits.

Slap the sky until your wings
rattle like shutters in a cold window.
How weeping rockets you to freedom,
the same as helpless suffering
laughter in the shrill plague.

Lady Macbeth shall be our monster saint,
self-martyr of Atropos' shears.
In her belly curled the holy
she worshipped, blood that clung
to her hunger and her fingers.

Lock the thin bone door against
blizzard knocks and shaming voices.
Revenge drips salt juice
in the hypnotic thunder of the kitchen hearth.
Let us toast our burn scars.

Come share the monster bed with me,
soiled bandage for your wounded mind,
and skin sinning with loss.
Grip your sugar and your murderer
and press them into a lens of passion.

The world has split into two,
one with no limits to the spit of venom,
and the other, home of innocence,
where songbirds get up in late blanched night,
balancing on brittle claws

to pour out incoherent prayers,
believing that only they can
make the monster sun open.

Monster Perfection

Fungus fountains from an ant's head.
Don't tell me this while I'm eating. Illusion
is the spur of appetite.

Let's say you're a handsome devil,
and host to a few trillion bacteria. Each invasion
is followed by a comma.

I'm merely a near-sighted mammal,
imagining I'm safe from attack half-covered
in thready dyed plants.

I'm not perfect. Perfection crawls out
of monsters like a searching fungus. Glamor
fountains from every failure.

Let's take a walk in the hurricane.
You won't mind soaking by sweeping shadows.
I'll hold your warm hand.

After all, we can always return home,
pretending our burrow will never be flooded.

The Theory and Practice of Monsters

They were wrong. The mirror doesn't refuse
the monster, the monster refuses the mirror.

The monster brandishes a pitchfork, keeping
himself at bay in the shadows. Torches distort his fear.

The monster has nowhere to call sanctuary.
Open the night closet and find tracks under endless trees.

The funk of earth feeds the monster's gobble,
then eats what's crooked, its stumble.

Still, the monster is part of the vast crumble
at the ridgetops of mountains, and rotted, under cities.

The monster has the face of war,
wounded and waiting. Breaking, uncontrollable.

Monster's end is always ugly
and sublime. The waking in an opaque sea of silence.

You are right to order an autopsy. But only a fanged groan
is hidden in the monster, its final essence.

About the Author

Mary Elizabeth Birnbaum was born, raised, and educated in New York City. She has studied poetry at the Joiner Institute in UMass, Boston. Mary’s translation of the Haitian poet Felix Morisseau-Leroy has been published in The Massachusetts Review, the anthology Into English (Graywolf Press), and in And There Will Be Singing, An Anthology of International Writing by The Massachusetts Review, 2019, as well. Her work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Lake Effect, J-Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Soundings East, Barrow Street, and Ligeia.