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Kay Billie Oakes


It come callin when an evenin

found my eyes. It swayed in exhaustion in a voice

and said to me what hell would be:

Nary an eye to speak of aint the same as blind
in lowgrand places dark as all getup. That dark you know,
eyes or no, like the weather of a season in your bones.

Even so, against the winter

on high the ceilins do hang, this I know,
for the sounds we send’ve come back to us scented
by the cold air of a holler- tellin its architraves

and so our hands against smooth ground. They slap at it
in a concert that does leather to a palm and toe - for no longer
do we slowcrawl’t in ignorance nor our backstraps s’slim. The clean floor:

bendin our strong backs and passin our kind, hearin their breath. Could we
be close for words of an awkward tongue like those of a sleeping thing,
quittin form and number in grace for the plain need of the heart that moves

the warm blood without a notion of it.

Know, the ground of our scurry ain’t barren and clean
ain’t empty. S’many fineshaped things been broke up and fed to the floor:
Damned in piecemeal. Fine. The graven work of those we

caint know was felled to clods and slivers
that all have mates whose phantom they wear in grievous edges,
fracturelines hollerin about our feet. They’re but paincarved beggars

in absentia and we’ve known’em with our hands and clutched ‘em to’us
and wept for their kin. Gnashed our own teeth that could we but find’em true,
their relations in the dark and make them as whole again. In the

dignity of their intent. All the same,

how would y’dare - how would you dare

give of this salvage form to your own other in the blackness, afterall? What
contortion would it demand, yet? The bloodhands of the craftsman. The shape of translation –
raw the symbols again. How clumsy the mouth of the ape in tellin of a Nebula. The cold

already found you first, anyhow. From above. A winter sky unto itself, givin down in stingin gales like grief. You’re in for it right where you stand and nothin freezes and heat ain’t gonna go up. This aint the place. But touch now your eyeless brow and know of others makin

warm. The Law is this.

and may it be our peace for you and the bend in your back and all the grain of your burning trunk. Call to it the same blood that whirls your hand about the floor over broken stone masterpiece. Relative Fragments. Hush y’mouth. Hush. The one thing comes after the other. Yes?

Damn us.

Hymn of the Insect

Why, you lot

sleep in the gatheround company of Anthropod vermin

that do hold tides of blood in’em, in their little hearts
that do ping constellations about you and your deadwood floors.

haloclicks, percussion

-could you see it all, naturally-

on their one trajectory;

same as how we know bodies in space or diagram all
the hidin’ places for our weapons of war. I can’t imagine

they grasp what it means to harm in the plain sense
n’matter how many they kill and eat of their’own
- they don’t dance over the body of a queen.

Just - they put’er to pieces or she them. Simple divine mathematics.
For God’s sake they build their homes
with their mouths.

Someone says “you’ll swallow a multitude

during your whole life – the heat from your mouth
draws a crowd. The stink of it” and in glory it’s
for them to die by their need and curiosity for

warm in the saliva of a great quaking furnace. The dumb throat

of a titan. Also, he dunno nothin.

It’s his gut,
exoskeletons burn in there
and so their little heat signatures

dyin like stars.

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