Oath of Softest–Poems by Jessica Lawson


Oath of Softest

He makes his money his woman (in the office to steel (but the resolution (will not be televised,
(take this, then (our oath of softest.

A fly by Might operation might operate (on your granny, her (hip hip (hopping below the belt
(and he’s ready to give her (whatever care he can grab (in between conference calls, (while the
full ass of social media (butt dials their representatives (leaving an oath of softest (in the empty
art of the dialtone (when the voicemail box is full.

His night plane cloaking (technology is just (sixty million and more bodies (stapled to the side,
(a few flying

(like stories high

(from the wing’s middle passage


(to deliver the wind


(an oath of softest—



Ode to my soon-to-be-installed intrauterine device

Somewhere hidden you don’t like but you are            there
Tucked as a bed in a drawer dark the room capped the corridor the clinic round the corner
from where I’ve grown used to sleeping

I miss your absence as it shuts on itself

next week I open my knees

is the copper of your tone like his, tinseled voice, or yet? Somehow otherwise
none of this being otherwise

I called for you in the dark the day he named himself in urine along the southern border

I can’t bring myself to want you, for your glowing
orange body twisting

maximizing potential sites of touch

ten thousand leagues of big between my knees

I asked for you because you can stay quiet till he’s gone
or because you fit in the dimples I hid from sun


under the collar

in comparison

I spent a pence of you to line my gut
for so many cocks to tap like mistletoe

a choice in advance of loss
my uterus magics the document

they’ll call it target practice

tis the season



Product Recall 09983663i2
Trumpence: Birth Control

As directed: the cinnamon you scatter along   Your vaginal wall        can protect you only    If
administered at the same time every day     If applied too liberally            risk dust slosh To as
far as the mouth of your cervix            which   Yes not toxic                    sets womb to sneezing
tho That’s as good a way as any                to expel            Ungathered wanted or         gathered


Grab me one

My pussy is running              for precedent

             In 99 percent of cases                    used correctly                  The march of ants rumbling            out from the tip             Of your lover’s uncapped dick         Will  pause             Tiny feet
browning in dust                                   Unsure the direction of rain                      If you miss
a dose   Sprinkle the unused portion of cinnamon   On your ovens buns  turn tempt Hot
as hell houses for brown ash       Fifteen to nine months minutes        A pastry diaphragm                                             Can you,

icing?               Yes, we candida!

It makes the kind of cents that copper does         a penny     for a drought a draughty window
dowry to the first                                        to hold my fingers                                     tight enough




law at the mouth
is not covered under
this plan

women the children first

belly open to the wind
night and knife beside
bedside table to table sides
for and above the day

women the children first

a baby ghost plays on the water
laugh like crumpling napkins
all the better
to serve your heart with

women my limit
the corner the thirst

motherhood is the incision
peeling hip to hilt
I open my own body tonight
lifting belly like the hood of a car
I brush the dust inside me with
the back an elephant’s tiny hand

women is a verb now
directly object to the littleness of faces
they say I must say
my daughter’s body floats a throw pillow
I must say they say
my verb galoshes trampling her garden
and I must say I am sorry
so sorry
but there is no time
while it is legal now
women the children
under umbrella
you can hem your love before
it catches into lava at the floor
or can’t you

goodnight light and the red balloon

be baby my girl a big baby forever a big
baby suckling liberally
the drop
from my bleeding heart

women the children
camera pan star to the right
and straight on to the staple
that secures
my tongue in my face

my belly hatch open
innard christmas lights festoon
the under side
the first arc’s lack of hood ornament
its greatest flaw

winter the children
in the canning jar of my body
till this is over

the number for the transgender suicide hotline
is eight seven seven
five six five
eight eight six zero
my daughter thinks the purpose
of a phone depress the green
button and whisper hello

women the children first
to the arc of her adult body
while supplies last
belly egged open
the meat of the shell
is not enough
for three nights’ eating
stretch marks carve skin windows
through my ass darkly
so passengers can spy the rations
they wish were kept inside

children the women first
and again
the safest place my daughter was from them
was my luxury line uterus
flesh buffer to the life cry of the outside
goodnight noises everywhere

this flag
in my gut sweat
my daughter’s soft pajama eyes
rub themselves inside
as she takes her second term
in my intestined nest

I can’t kiss her on the eyes from here.
I sing her destiny’s child.
I tuck her in to sleep,
here, in my abdomen,
and call her brother to the room.

women the children
I read them in the shapes my stomach makes
above their sleeping bodies
I wear purple for the occasion
of the kind of shade
four years of bruising makes
or really even eight
what I am trying to say
in the space my staple makes
is the only keep to play
the keeping still her shape
the only way
to keep my daughter safe
is to ask her
wrapped in red striping
old and new
something burrowed
is to ask her
against all the force of the muscles
I cunted her into country with
is to ask
red balloon of my heart
half-only of my blood
half-cracking the egg of the sky with her smile
god damn you need to hear her sing
of wonder at the number the stars
speckling the makeshift blanket
that could have been her country
where the only way to keep her safe
is to ask her
to exist
somewhat less
in the world


img_1378Jessica Lawson’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Dusie and Jacket2. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and is currently in the MFA poetry program at CU-Boulder, where she teaches classes on creative writing and LGBT literature. In 2016, she received the Underhill Award for excellence in graduate creative writing from the Denver Women’s Press Club. She is currently revising a manuscript about the downfalls of trying to power bottom the patriarchy.



IMAGE: Ana Mendieta

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