openmouthed, we grasp our children

this is what it means to start

from the beginning

shivering in one’s skin


what it means to start

a truce with face and form

soothing in one’s skin

the familial, a mother’s love


a truce without face forms

a dead son awash, the tiny body

familial (a brother) loved

now lifeless arms


dead son awash, a tiny body

to his mother still through gunfire

now lifeless, disarmed

on the corner by the playground


his mother still, though gunfire

crosses her son, the border (lengthwise)

on the corner, the playground

widens with neglect


cross with her son at the border

from the beginning

we widen with neglect’s

openmouth gasp, our children


Brenda Serpick

Brenda Serpick received her MFA in poetry from The New School and is the author of three chapbooks: ‘the other conjunction in it’ (Furniture Press), ‘No Sequence But Luck’ (3 Sad Tigers Press) and ‘The Female Skeleton Makes Her Debut’ (Hophophop Press). She was a participating poet for Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project (July 2016), and her poems have appeared in Requited, Tule Review, The Potomac, Free State Review, eccolinguistics, Printer’s Devil Review, Spiral Orb, LIT, Lungfull! Magazine, and Boog City – among other fine journals. She currently teaches English and creative writing for Baltimore City Public Schools.

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