125.1: Farren Stanley and Jessalyn Wakefield:: Rabbit Goes Courting & By the Hammer of Rabbit & Rabbit, First Trimester & To Raise a Rabbit in the Suburbs 125

The poems this week return me to that bizarre time of middle school: a time most of us would probably like to forget, but also a time we remember with pangs of embarrassment and angst. Farren Stanley and Jessalyn Wakefield create a world I’d say is as mysterious as any middle schooler’s through language the texture of dirt and root vegetables, through an attitude toward fertility (the rabbit’s domain) that balances childlike innocence and awareness of the dark and dirty. These poets are out to mix blood and milk and have us drink it. These poems force the “animal soul which senses and perceives” in all of us to come out and play.

Collaboration is alive in this work, and—if you’ll indulge me—that, too, has a ring of middle school truth. Friendship and play underscore the act of constant re-visioning across poems, retelling and revising what the speaker means, insisting, “You know what I mean.” The poets capture the voice of a middle school best friend: the girl who would braid your hair, finish your sentences, and probably kiss the kid you had a crush on before the school year was up. In the final poem of this group, the speaker, discussing soiled beards, says, “This is how you know they are good.” The speaker then leaves us hanging off a cliff with no end punctuation mark and a chunk of white space. We finally land on “to eat,” which still leaves us unrewarded with a period. “To eat” does double duty, serving the next line (“The private parts of a Rabbit”), too, though it could not grammatically serve both the line that comes before and the line that follows. You can see the brain(s) of the poets working here, step by step, revising and adding new meaning with each new line, but not without asking us to question the boundaries of the sentence and its intention.

So when I say these poems create a world that reminds me of middle school, I don’t mean they are cute or silly; I mean they’re dark, playful, sincere. What other time than middle school are innocence and secrecy, childishness and sexuality, allowed to coexist without irony? S. Whitney Holmes

Rabbit Goes Courting

It is a shameful thing we are celebrating.

the beast from childhood, nuzzling

Up and down the boulevards, looking                        for the willow / winnow
Skin shaved down to its elemental,

a sharded tesla on full pornographic display

Godiva on a bicycle. A necklace                    of shells. I mean skulls.

I mean gems.

A biscuit and an egg. Cat calls           and the unwelt, deafening. I mean

geraniums. I mean mother.

In the window, Earl Grey’s bastard daughter licks the spoon.                       Peaks.

Kiss from the monkey bars, a beard in jeopardy

all the hair is pubic and all the mouths are


Don’t eat don’t sleep. Wait                 for a cheap imitation sure to come

waltzing. Today you are its bride again / hello

they have monstrosities, I am sure of

milky plume around the ice. I am sure

She changes one dress for another dress.

a cloud of milky girl above the crowd. Everyone is waving / hello
hello / what happens next

What does geranium mean anymore                                  A mother and the girl of her,
warrior of the follicular, the strategic

hair drape the genital flush

they feed the horse a bucket of milk and blood, chilled apples,

tied to a second body

You could be, for all appearances, healing. Or growing.

It is good and right to swallow this whole.                 Mommy in the bleachers, waving

your wedding dress.

By the Hammer of Rabbit

The action is a fist.

The salient point with mothers                     are their breasts

Suppuration and a clean lock,

glassy.                       A mass of cardinals as protective dome.

The thesis is their rolls of stomach

insomnolence                       a mother a moonscientist,

Creative caution can be a hermeneutic cupola
Acrobatic submersion

and flakes of skull

What                     breaks                     down                     breaks                     down

A Rabbit and the fist of her, the shreds of clouds                  that line the nest

 in mind condition

The animal soul which senses and perceives

The fist is fraught with danger but not surprise.

Sometimes tomatoes like rice at weddings.
Sometimes a different red object.
Sometimes a running leap.
Sometimes a card. A second dimension.

What breaks down breaks down

in the corner of a kissable public
for the better part                   of the masculine rain

The action is a single cardinal inside a closed fist.
The insolence of a bird
The salient point about the moon is her                    use

of color.

The confusing participation

Rabbit, First Trimester

A tremor at the base,             and then a flourish of turmeric.
Something that was supposed to happen
but didn’t happen,

she can’t remember

reminding her of something she was supposed to do.                    Before this

son of a surrogate (Starlings darted.)
I am having a problem which may be            biological. Or is it by faith alone?

Are you my querent?
My shibboleth?
Do we walk now?

If your hand hurts after five years you can stop.         If the flesh puckers and begs you can.

Stop. (As long as there were parties. With friends.)

(As long as she parked his car close to the curb.)

find me legs that don’t skitter, say                 colt

Adolescent fur. The proportions of “in between.”                   Of “neither.” Favorite color
the motion of birds.

He failed to ask particular questions

but anyway

as long as he could hit the high notes. As long as no              decomposing color.

If only it had happened. Then,

songbirds and sirens.                A window with a common animal.

Or a gap between her thighs,
or the dirt packed there,
or the mulch soaking in bowls overnight.         She can’t remember a time before horses

just beyond her vision.

She wants to remember a Rabbit and                          the winch of her, the way

to ratchet sky high.                Triple protection. You signed it dotted line. Now notice

the weight when you wave / hello.

They are going to stare, a parade. Hello.       Some proof

fluttering from the window.                         Some leviathan, losing altitude. Up

inside all that thrumming purr.

To Raise a Rabbit in the Suburbs

If you can find a moment that won’t stretch                                the length of

a rattle within the ultra. A memory, or             whatever.

(a thicket of beard)

When you sit in the corner of,                         waiting the duration of,

looking for the center of

privatization of space. A book spine a                         mansard roof, the chapel in which

the sparrows nest

Beards come from soil. Or
are they soiled? Whatever.
This is how you know they are good

to eat

The private parts of a Rabbit

when the period escapes the intention

sutured up visions, not an intention

A Rabbit and the parts of her,

the art of kissing broken down

into manageable lessons

the obvious leap at the end of a Rabbit

she hasn’t got a single leg to stand on

the silence cannot extend cannot lengthen                  into what she meant to not say to not

do                  in the corner a beard slowly shedding hair

a bearded beauty queen           slowly                                  a repository shedding

of scent, and nothing more.

A Rabbit not a symbol

the kissable public

the masculine rain

a suggestion would have to be more than                   a houseplant, wouldn’t it?

This is observation delaying the critical.
This is pageantry                    I mean a neighborhood

(You know what I mean)

At the end of a Rabbit