National Poetry Month Day 20: Sarah Blake


For Max

Ok, so you know someone who died horrifically
Ok, so you know an animal who died horrifically
In a fire let’s say or a building’s collapse
Or, ok, so you know someone who’s dying right now
Except maybe not horrifically
Except your idea of horrifically is changing
Like a gun death seemed less horrific than the gas chambers
Until the country kept ignoring gun deaths
Now they seem horrific
And then I really try to think about the word horrific
And horror and I think about how I only watch horror movies
In black neighborhoods where they make jokes
The whole time about the dumb white girl that’s going back into the house
Until I’m peeling with laughter in my seat
And I think so much of my country is dumb white girls going back
Into the house, except they’re men, too, and I’m offended by
The attribution of feminine qualities or I’m offended
By the qualities deemed feminine because I am one tough bitch
Who never has to be one because I don’t leave the house
I don’t know if I’m mourning you before you die
I don’t know if language can write me away or into anything
I’m a butterfly. I’m a pig. I was never in a body to begin with.
I remember as a child trying to think of what animal
I wanted to come back as and not being able to think of one
Because everything is prey to something and my luck
As a human seemed too great, irreplicable, next time I’d for sure
Be a child kidnapped or molested or abused
A mother on her way out of the Y last night told another mother
How she pinches her son because she doesn’t know what else to do
And then makes a joke about how she’s going to kill him
And it’s not a fucking joke, it’s not one
And I wonder if that would be a horrific death just because
it’s his mother committing the act
That seems like enough even if the death itself isn’t torturous
Or inhumane, and I don’t know what to do with that word anymore
Because almost every action I’ve seen lately lacks compassion
And every life I’ve seen lately has misery in it
Last night a man in my area tried to run a woman’s child over
Then got out of his car and said, “You dirty Jew, I should kill all of you.
I should come back with a gun and kill all of you.”
There are a lot of reasons for people to point a gun at me I guess
I might die before you I guess
Because that’s our country right now and either way
We’ll die without each other a little
And if I come back as a cricket, I’ll seek out the bird
If I come back as a mouse, I’ll seek out the fox
I could do this cycle a hundred times and still enjoy it


–Sarah Blake


Sarah Blake is the author of the poetry collection Mr. West (2015), an unauthorized biography of Kanye West. She earned a BA from the College of New Jersey, an MA in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA from Penn State University. Blake is editor of Saturnalia Books, poetry editor of MiPOesias, and cofounder of Submittrs. She is the recipient of an NEA literature fellowship and lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and son.

Brian Spears is Senior Poetry Editor of The Rumpus and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). His poem “Upon Reading That Andromeda Will One Day Devour Triangulum and Come For Us Next” was featured in Season 9 of Motion Poems. More from this author →