two poems by Amanda Pritchard Moore
What You Should Know Before Reading This Poem

You should know Oaxaca
is a city in southeastern Mexico where
popcorn is a streak of white doves flying
in the sky of your hand
toward the nest of your mouth.

You should know the word myoclonic:
jerking body awakes to stop
the slow fall into sleep.

You should know more pain,
parallel to the pain you cause others.

A city honeycombed with canals,
lined with moldy alleys and the sweet sting
of fresh minced chilis. Servants
and statues gilded in gold leaf,
gilded in slick sweat and waving heat.
You should know I am now talking
about Bangkok.

You should know the word autocracy:
government by a single person with unlimited power.
My body is an autocracy
and I am not the governor.

You should know Marchesa Luisa Casati,
who glued velvet to her brows, circled
her eyes with black tape and painted
her voluptuous lips a vibrant vermilion.
She was surrounded by light always-
sometimes shocked from the bulbs and wires
sputtering in her gowns until she collapsed,
a smashed zeppelin, and sometimes
on her balcony with flames, a secret sign
of sexual conquest.

You should know the word deictic:
directly proving by argument.
You should know how to use it
in a sentence.

You should know the word iconoclast:
one who attacks, seeks to overthrow
popular ideas or institutions, a swarm
of yellow jackets rejecting
the yoke of the apiarist.

You should know skin
does not always want to jut
where the bone does.


I Keep a Small Fool

I keep a small fool in my mouth.
In public, my tongue moves in and out
like a depressor, the fool bobbing
on the end, a cuckoo
chiming the hour with words.

The food I lay to my lips is to appease him,
the way, in some cultures,
people leave apples or water for spirits.
The fool will have nothing of it-
not the round, bitter cask of orange,
not the quick sizzle of frying meat.

I used to think enough whiskey
might drown him, but he knows
to plug his nose, float against my teeth,
wait until I wag him out
like a child's chewed-up food

and he speaks and he sounds just like me
and I sit back and listen,

Someday I might put razor blades in my salad,
a tart sprinkle of arsenic over toothpaste,
knock him over with a bunch of big vitamins
and swallow him like a pill.
Someday I'll just chew that fool up
and pick his fibers from my teeth.