5 poems from “Born”

We begin
with this Rorschach
of blood on thigh:
first, a gravedigger shoveling earth
into our bed,
then the rotting barn
we once undressed in.
Beneath this wet duress, we beg
in unison
to be born.



What’s the word
for the soft white belly

after the harpoon,
but before the hooks?

Last month, we bought the books
that told us what to buy.

Then bought none of it.



That August, when the river dries up
and the cattails sway like torches

waiting to be lit, we miss
the mud most.

We call it a crick, then dip
our toes into what’s not there.



Our little god-gone-
cannibal, our little omnivorous
accident, our little shit storm
of surrender, our little meaning-
cum-mercy, our little ball
of lightning, our little life-
boat hell-bent
on being held.



After the first deep freeze,
the elm leaves seal themselves

beneath the puddles:
each leaf blackened red

like a wound
we step carefully over.

She will unstitch you,
our mothers say.

The days pass: ocean,
ocean, accident.

Here a cave of prehistoric
fear, there a nest of teeth.

When you won’t sleep,
I lay you down on the floor

and kneel at the altar
of you altering me.

Fritz Ward is the author of Tsunami Diorama (The Word Works, 2017) and the chapbook Doppelganged (Blue Hour Press, 2011). The recipient of the Cecil Hemley Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America, Fritz’s work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, The Adroit Journal, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. He works at Swarthmore College and lives just outside of Philadelphia.