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Blake Lee Pate

Bottom of the Pot


I screamed one thousand downpours one night in July

In front of you in a dim-lit parking lot. There was a glint

In the blacktop I would have touched had I been

A very young girl, and there was the stretch of blacktop itself:

My dark altar. When I knelt I found a danger inside me.

I thought: can a woman really purge anything?


There are other nights when I stir polenta in the kitchen

And you wipe down the coffee machine, and we both pretend

To be thirty, forever.


These are when my heart is most full, and when I know

My saddest accomplishment—to hurt you with my own

Lowliness, with a meal I burned myself.



Domestic Buildup


There is a way sleep can leave a person

And there is a way sleep can leave a whole house.


You are the one with the darker skin, the ordered

And well-built mind and I am the one who wakes

And cries in the night. Often we drive home late

And lay with our limbs untouching until dawn.


The night you find the rat, cornered at the floorboards

And searching for water, you say to me: How

Do I end it.



I want to Move to a City where the Buildings are so Tall


I want to move to a city where the buildings are so tall

and so close together

I can collapse

in on them


I want the city to be like pink shag carpet

and not like this burned place

with ashes


I want the grasshoppers in the burned place

to turn green again

I want to rub the ash off of the grasshoppers


I want to move to a mountain town

where the buildings are not so tall


I want to turn my brain off

in a mountain town


I want to create, create, create



I want to defend each cupcake like it is my art

each dash of spice, every bite


I want a kitten in my cupcake

factory, a kitten to stroke


I want to stop crawling

out of my sleep


I want to be a solitaire

I want a solitaire

I want to be a solitaire


I want the inside of my head to stop feeling

like the more inside of my head


I want to check out

of America

I want to move to a farm

I want to milk a cow


I can use the milk to make my art

in the green place

with the unburned grasshoppers



City of the Girl in a Plague of Grasshoppers 


The grasshoppers came in a tiny swarm.

The city gassed them pretty quickly.


At dawn I went out searching

Like a silent fire. There was nothing

Green about them. I lit matches

Around the ashen grasshoppers.


I burned a lot of them

And they burned easily.


I collected their carbon bodies, attractive

In neat stacks. I made sure each stack

Was strong

And had a wide foundation.


I crunched at least thirty

Of their delicate bodies, broken mandibles

In my hands, and left the rest intact: perfectly scorched.


I rubbed one with my fingers

And it came off green so smoothly

Like a blackberry bush on my palms.

I washed and washed myself


In their gassed, ash-covered bodies.

My arms grew wide, a goddess in the grass-

Land, each of my fingers a baby-god-



Even I am unburned.


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