The Wrong Words by Daniel Bourne

The Wrong Words

I think of iguanas
crawling on the shores
as I think of my aunts
with their bad
beehive hairdos
thinking they
are doing good
as they tell me to drink my milk.
And I think of all the milk cows, their milk
never reaching their own child.
I think of the hands of a human child
reaching out in an orchard
for the lowest hanging fruit.
Salvation might be near, but this
is not a fairy tale. Already
that child is having trouble remembering
the words that might not save him, but
at least decide to keep himself alive,
the words for fruit and belly and sleep.
But all the child remembers is the word for wasp
the word for hunger and for the bitter seed
his adam’s apple bobbing like the neck of the iguana

thinking it is doing good doing good surviving


Daniel Bourne‘s  books include The Household Gods (Cleveland State) and Where No One Spoke the Language (CustomWords). His poems have also been in such journals as Field, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Conduit, Boulevard, Guernica, Salmagundi, Yale Review, Pleiades, Quarterly West, Willow Springs, Witness, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Plume, New Letters, Indiana Review, Chariton Review, and Cimarron Review. The recipient of four Ohio Arts Council poetry fellowships, he teaches in the English Department and in the Environmental Studies Program at The College of Wooster in NE Ohio, where he edits Artful Dodge, a magazine of American fiction, poetry and essay with a special interest in both place and literature in translation.