this haunting poem, Cynthia Cruz channels a street-savvy child-speaker who wields language by turns agile and coy, by turns grim and cacophonic, to weave the various loose ends of her life into a single, fluid plea.—Tracy K. Smith



Briefcase brother, what silver
Steamboat, brother, have you
Got for me this time.

Gingerbread cookies glued
Blue in frosting for me.
But I’m starving in the sunroom.

Black memory magnet ribbons, make me
Better, brother, love me
Like only a brother loves. At night

When the animals arrive, I am alone
As always, and tan as a Coppertone ad,
Daddy’s funny bunny girl. Forever

In the woods of this deaf-
Retard fairy tale, of this
Brother-loving daughter. And what

Would you make of a girl
Giving it up in the junk-
Packed backyard of someone’s frat party?

Daddy, I am spit
Pasting junk and shit into glittering
Black pink pearls and beads of apathy.

Track down the pony
Trapped on the carnival-like barge
Lit in key lime green like a California

Ferris wheel to the Rhine,
Back to my Germany
Where this awful song began.

Give me back my Ritalin.
Give me my shock
Of medicine. Make sure my spine

Is still living. Mommy
Slip the black eel
Back in the sealed aquarium.
Christmas time in Germany,
Mommy’s got me laced in some French
Magic. Some burlesque, some circus and some queer,

Candy ass. Now we can pretend I am
Daddy’s blonde princess. Give me my
Medicines, Mommy, so I can forget.

Unravel the tapestry, the Bible
Of childhood. Cock
The shotgun to the crimson
Crown of this sorry, sorry head—


Cynthia Cruz was born in Germany and raised In Northern California. Her first collection of poems, Ruin, was published in 2006 by Alice James Books. She is the recipient of several residencies to Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She has taught writing to children in the West Bank, in homeless shelters, and to women in the eating disorder ward of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She lives in New York City.

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