UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
CULLEN BAILEY BURNS

We just want it to be healthy

Here is the little bomb. We call it baby,
all mouth and potential. We do not speak
of disappointments--no one to strap it on yet
and cross the border, the demilitarized zone
of our foyer. The neighbors coo at it, rub
the tops of its dimpled hands with their thumbs
and say, "give me a smile."
We think about schools and such, of course,
But at night when we lay our plans
it always kicks its feet from the bassinette
in the corner of the room central to everything
central to some final detonation.


First Snow, October

I’m not interested in supposition, yours or anyone’s,
only the thick sky, the thin sticks of trees.
Driven snow. Please, no more betrayal or fear
of betrayal or questions about what comes next.
Am I to know? Yesterday I drove past a man
on a bike, riding and balancing a vacuum cleaner
on the handlebars. Just before the snow came.
You find me duplicitous and yet you found me.
We’ll have no more tears, now, will we?
Every fall the same red rises in different
maple leaves, every fall we joke about descent.
What’s to get? I have vowed to improve. Yours
is the task of belief. I wish you luck.


Thin Poem

The narrowing of the spine: stenosis.
The narrow point of the arrow: tip.

Reduction in intake, increase in output:
the narrowing of those hips.

The narrow strip of land: isthmus.
The narrow space between us: kiss.

Redolent, leaned in to, such ruination:
the narrowing of our aims to this.


Cullen Bailey Burns' book, Paper Boat, was published
by New Rivers Press in 2003 and received a Minnesota
Book Awards New Voice Commendation. Her past awards
include a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Fellowship
and two Pushcart Prize nominations. Her poems have
appeared recently in The Denver Quarterly, Rattle, Court
Green and many other magazines. She lives in Minneapolis
and teaches at Century College.

The poem, "We want it to be healthy" was originally
published in Rattle and won the 2007 Neil Postman
Award for Metaphor.







© 2007 Underground Voices