This Came First

This poem won People's Choice in the 2017 2-Day Poem Contest

Behind the kitchen table, April

evening struggles through stippled 

glass—corn flung from cobs chewed 

into microphones. The children,

 

prone to holding after-dinner 

spelling bees, wield vegetables

and serve bombastic speeches 

with the pudding. Standing on 

 

chairs, parliament beseeches the

hens for offspring until canned 

plums become pits and copacetic

chickens mosey to bed. The girl

 

disposes her wishes in the compost 

tin. But the boy, wisely holding

purple seeds for planting, prays at 

the window longer. Dish suds

 

chuckle along bracelet charms 

as mother, listening at the sink,

turns to watch. Yesterday the sun

absquatulated with all his demands

 

for chicks and today too, only

blue begets red begets rose as 

hands and horizon are washed

to wrinkled pink. Soon though

 

the boy, pretend asleep in his

room, hears the Jeopardy song

come on and knows it’s safe

to tip-toe in striped green socks to

 

the cellar. He shifts the shallot basket

and a can of wood stain. The homemade

garden markers part and trowels see

dank shadows fall from paint sheets 

 

‘til there, unroofed, are eggs. Socks 

slung between bike spokes make

beds: a wool bunk for each chick

waiting to be hatched. Push pins

 

along the peach shelf secure

faces drawn in pencil. Gold  

framed daguerreotype. Grey

combs and feathers fill portraits

 

or still lifes. They are named: Mary,

Elise, Charles, Ron. Goodnight 

family. He holds the newest 

foundling, Emma, for a moment 

 

longer before pulling the covering 

over her cool white shell and 

trusting a pail of wise-eyed 

potatoes to keep watch until dawn. 

Published online July 13 2017.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.