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The Milk for Free

by Brooklyn Copeland
Scantily Clad Press, 2008

With special thanks to the editors of Canopic Jar, Openned, Burnside

Review and Death Metal Poetry, where some of these poems first
in slightly different versions.
A Femur is Not a Female Lemur

And we are not real feminists,

sister. The bickering gaggle

before us threw that baby out

with the bath water.

We are barely even legal

when our shoulda- couldas come back

to bite us. The woulda flu shot; the woulda

car insurance. In Helsinki I have seen

a toothless, man-faced queen.

I have wound my scarf

around my cheeks and chewed

the topskin from my lips

to keep from fainting
with laughter

in the street. I woulda an ounce

of prevention. Sister, we are a hapless second

helping with twenty-twenty vision.

I coulda sold you good

wool over.
We shoulda warned once the signature’s signed.

This time, it is Liberty, not Justice,

who is blind.
The Milk for Free

Was he Dutch who crooked his thumb

to hitch a weathered Mack truck, abandoning

the dam? Who’s to know in this climate

a plugged dike from a plugged dike,

a political from a sexual hangnail, a snag

in a hand-me-down fairytale?

Or was he gentle and saucer-eyed,

lamenting the long-drawn suicide of an English rose?

Was he Danish? A towhead townie on a bike?

A nouveau-riche slice of gateau? Did he puncture

your babyish peach-skin with glistening incisors?

So was he Spanish? An inquisitive, blue-moody, barrel-

chested cubist chasing chunky groupies

up the Cote? Was the elk heart the calling card

of his bodice-ripped Transylvanian?

His fur-lined fraulein? His cerise-trimmed

Canadienne? I saw him, the perverted joey-mutt,

nestled smugly against the cheeks of Garbo,

the bosom of Loren. Is he Fascist now, done

with his famous impressions?

So was that him last night at Big Sur?

At a guardrail on the Seine?
Derby, Said Darby

I read you came from influenza just to

enough’s enough and croak

of last-straw broken-heartedness, of
camel’s back and crow’s feet.

That you jigged up clapboard walls and

personalized your Valhalla with a pebble

skipped over Baikal,

with a stolen, blue jazz static. That your fingers

smelled of matches, strike-anywhere

and safety, and your palms were creased and oily,

and your palms passed dollar-note

psalms. That you pulled a Paul-Celan,

sleep-walking to the April bank

to mourn a fallen star, to pour a villain beer.
Nation, One Day

you’ll traipse through the sponge-red

and they’ll unwind the cord

of your purple-gray reliance

from your whale-neck. Your first song

will be Mama. Your second, Alliance.

We’ll trade carefully measured lullabies.

You’ll arrive having known

Every Good Boy Does Fine.

And you’ll grow into mine, my baby

treble cleft, my right hand. Even before,

you were glowing, a plotted star, a firefly

caught in my cat’s cradle. These songs

you’ll know the way you’ve known bone-char

and water-glass percussion. The acid reflux

concussion. A half-year of blue-eye.

Before, your true yodel pierced the hovering

sky, and I listened. I always knew you’d be

you, before ambition stretched my womb.
For M. Simberg

You’re a thinner spitting image, a mangy

Harry Haller, the dog-bone paintbrush pinched

between his beige lips. You’re his

boy-man in a bowler, his dream-perceived

black wash. His pre-Magritte dimensions;

all the macabre, none of the fruit.

His side-glance and white-smocked brooding.

His blood and impulse on a drum-machine.

You’re his wild archipelago ghoul, ears like wings

and knees drawn up like knobs on a faucet:

hot and cold. You’re his grinning skull

cloaked in a smoking sweater. You were

shy that day on the cobblestones.

Shouldering his name, I tried saying it as yours.
In Passing

That year you believed me asleep and spilled

the beans: really, I was dead.

They laid me romantically bare

on a doused pyre, the hastily-smithed diadem

tangled in my hair. In pale pink slippers,

your dolly is crying and pissing. I think

you named her Lindsey after that one man,

Lindsey Buckingham. You used to sing

all night, a nightingale. Lady Bell Jar,

in a farthingale, your footfall hushed by your pale

pink slippers. I was not comatose up there, I was

roasting. In your place. I might come back

as a black pearl, or a pea of cinnamon

toothpaste from an aluminum

tube. Or, in your place, I might

come back as you.

Georgia Peach,
your downy cleft

features pinkly
in Blue Jean’s dream.

Nightly sighing,
he lets slip

the shared-smile
smells of Dutch clover

and hot crotch lace,

and sleeping sees

the lotioned legs

clamped akimbo around

his face. Figuring hard

those racy eights

against the Dixie

bars of his buckle,

Blue Jean admits

his sin down the twin

barrels of Ginger
Ale’s pistol.

She was cat-eyed

and turtlenecked, flicking
her kretek over a pop
can, shale bangles
jangling like so many
airport tambourines.
She was fur-tongued
and blurry-worded,
wobbly on her ankles,
top-heavy and moue-
mouthed, powder-nosed
and sloppy, bursting
from her barstool
like a weasel
from a mulberry bush.
Her teeth were rows
of ice in a tray; her poems
Rorschach blots
on a page. And the
stick-fig-faux-scoliosis pose?
Stage-wise, she had one
of those and she worked it
like any blank-faced waif
in shredded runway clothes.
In crowds she laughed alone.
Her soul was lost
but her cry had heart, and when
she asked we fell apart
and spotted her the dough.
Which she probably blew
on blow. And that’s
the last we knew of Kate.

Bolstering her womanlies within a brassier

of Kevlar, a prayer in ink shoulder-side;

a butterfly tramp-stamp spanning lower

back-wide. Stories, does she ever. Goes

on like no tomorrow. One thing I like: her

resolve to stay pink. Her new shock-hair

is emblazoned in my periphery: the pepper-

mint floribunda in a bush of modest brunettes.

Her eye-slits rimmed in white-bunny red.

Her candy-glass heart-mirror Lolita lunettes.

Her Sophie shorts hollering citations

from the crack. Her brash, suggestive cadences

teasing from the track. One thing I like:

her fecklessly accepting. Her hugs of fatigue

and chocolate-tinged nicotine. Her talk

of healing crystals and a psychic Christ. At her

insistence, a sly planetary rise. Her forty years

and forty nights of gracing covers, clockwise.
Pity Cassandra

the gimmick of knowing fiction

before its promotion

by a gullible wife

to a terrible truth;

pity the sleuth

with the damning third eye.

Pity this ditzy concubine.

Pity the trick

who teased the prick
belonging to a god.

The cunt-stain on the negligee?

The lip gloss on the beer stein?

The bra strap on the harp neck?

All truths best left as lies.

Cassandra, prattling prize,

hiccups, predicts,

then dies.
Brooklyn Copeland
was born in Indianapolis in 1984. She has since
lived in Florida and throughout Northern
Europe. Her personal blog is located at She co-edits
Taiga, a new journal of poetry
and translation.