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All Cakes Are Bastards

in the late summer of a state on fire
they prepared for my birth
with buttercream guns
or glitter, in the streets where kneeling
on necks the blue
horsemen snuffed another dark breath
they drove, masked, to the mall for plastic feet
to spear into frosting,
in the dry wind they dreamed
of lures or lace, of my two choices
under an orange sky
as I slumbered normal in the blood-rich sea
as ash fell on the green courses
as I grew into my ultrasound assignment
they directed the baker’s hand, putters
or pearls, rifles or ruffles,
the sugared script
radiating pink and blue, Los Angeles sunsets
round the clock now in the summer the kindling
lay in wait for the revelation of bullets
or ballet, they set out
the knives on a blanket in El Dorado
Ranch Park and the white cruiser
of the sheet cake did say
buck or doe, cut to know,
cut to explosive footage of a color
not reported with the ten thousand
acres burned, and they walked out of there alive,
a color the pyrotechnic choice of
badges or bows, badges or burial,
and the news would not expose their names
as I was exposed, the ultrasound
technician’s pen circling flesh
or its absence. my gender is fire.



  1. shadowoperator on

    As Arlene Downing-Yaconelli has already covered so well the subject matters and the overtext which reinforces them (the outright images and comparisons and so forth), I would like simply to spend a little time remarking upon the superlative way in which the alliteration, assonance, and occasional rhyme are so strong in the technique of the poem, keeping the rhythm in balance and the engagement with the overtext strong as well. A very mature and well-seasoned poem, complete in all its aspects, the especial resonance of the last line taken together with the rest fulfilling all poetic expectations of the beginning language.

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  3. Arlene Downing-Yaconelli on

    this is the first gender poem I’m able to relate to, and thrilled to see someone else did, too. I especially appreciated how the background subjects—out-of-control fire and unrestrained law enforcement—wove themselves in and around the discussion, and how that gave us a spot to stand on to watch it all unfold. A place that was clearly threaded through, in contemporary minds, at least, the events and unquestioned assignments that shuttled the weave of the poem. Well done!!!

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