The truth? I couldn’t wait to split. Picture

a birdcage strung up on baroque unwritten codes

— like living in a police state, I told the serpent


when we ducked out for a cigarette

one night near the end, just before it all

blew to smithereens, just before my lewdness


cracked the perfect and perfectly boring landscape

(a top-ten “Places to See Before You Die”)

mapped in majolica on the tiled floor of Anacapri:


a paradise of rivers and islands, flowers and fish,

and all His weird experiments (zebras, giraffes).

I was incidental there, a thorn in someone’s side.


In the far corner — you have to lean in close

 — the exiled Crown of Creation and I, his rib-bone,

trying to cover ourselves with ferns and fronds.


Observe how my long hair hides my smile.

Wouldn’t smoking be divine after sex?

the serpent asked me once. What’s that? I said. 


by Jo Ann Baldinger


Jo Ann Baldinger lives in Portland, Oregon, where she writes poems, practices yoga, and tries to be patient. Her poems have appeared in Cirque, Verdad, Blue Mesa, Tsunami, and Onthebus.

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