Nicole Mason received her M.A. in Literature at Northern Michigan University and
teaches Composition and Creative Writing at Indiana University of South Bend.
Her poems have appeared in The Chiron Review and Ramshackle Review and are
forthcoming in (b)OINK and Cease Cows.

Floor Baby

Mother warned the others
I was born
to quiet horses
not with her fist in the air
with a secret insight
all she meant was
she kept her head down
and two packs a day
picking fruit
in the orchards
her belly
not-quite a melon
high on her ribcage
could only mean
a shredder
a cross-eyed thing
who ate fistfuls of dirt
a floor baby
If I was lucky
I would be born
under Jupiter and
clutch at ripe branches
to know the smell of a
bushel basket
the snag of hair and stem
the seasonal want
I was born early
instead under Ursa Major
my feet came first
never to know
my cardinal directions
my palms learned
to determine the heft of things
of peaches
and soil
of pumping hearts
and reins

there were countless others

there was the one under the meteor shower
she would swear on a stack of Bibles that she could hear the meteors sizzle
through the air and there was the smell of cool grass
there was the one in the forest
at night because someone said it was haunted
wouldn't it be a pity, she asked him, if we were chopped into bits
there was the one up against a car
in the parking lot outside the gay bar
a drunk guy watched in the distance
and screamed at them
there was the one in the rain, outside his apartment
a drop of water had rolled off of his hat and
onto her nose
it was so loud it sounded like a gunshot
there was the one in the school library
on the floor behind the dictionaries, his hair
was long and it curtained around their faces
there was the one on a dark side street at midnight
he was beautiful and profoundly stupid
he kept reaching for her breasts
there was the one in a mildewy shower in the student slums
naked she said, you know it's your friend I want, right
and he answered, no I didn't know that
there was the one in the hall, by the health class door
that was the first one and there had been a lot of spit
there was the one where his dog paced back and forth
between them no longer the center of attention
she had hooked her fingers into the collar of his shirt
there was the one where she had reached up up and up for him
and he left for Europe in the morning
and then there was the last one

Desire-path Cleft

It was the snow that fertilized me
drove in sideways
entered my mouth, my eyes
covered my throat and landed in my hair

The icy indentations:

My wrist, the point of entry
(the right one)
The soft skin so simple to fissure,
a desire-path cleft

Some will ask me: How long? How long did it take?

It took
for a yawn of time,
and everything was rain

They peeped out of their own accord

First, a ripple under skin
Then, a dewclaw hooked along carmine ridge

There were three of them
all bones and tiffany
huddled in my palm


your sister died in a barn fire
she died of cancer
she toppled, head first, into the cream separator when she was 17 months old
she starved to death when she fell in a drainage ditch
no one could see her blue coat
your sister's face was bitten off by the family dog
that didn't kill her
she did that herself three years later
she died by hiding in a refrigerator during a game of hide-and-seek
she got hit by a car
your sister played a trick on you by hanging herself in your closet
by jumping off of the tallest building in Jasper, Ohio
by launching herself into a fast-moving river
by guzzling bleach
your sister was shot in the head in the grocery store
because your mother needed non-fat yogurt
she contracted Ebola and died
her boyfriend killed her but said it was an accident
everyone knows it wasn't
she was taken by the Boko Haram
no one knows for sure, it's one of those things where you just kind of assume
you said when she died you ate dirt for a month
your organs turned to rocks
your arms into clay
now when you press your head against the cool glass of the window
it feels like braille

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