All hail the princess that does
not quit, she trundles, tumbles, curls
on her laurels rests creaturely.
Her mother prohibits worshipping
while worshipping she locks up
a pinafore but screws it in silence.
She and her girlfriends stay indoors
with their constant blue pills,
their sleeping a sermonized goo.
All the best people have bad chests
and bone diseases, coiffed incisors,
troubling definitions, a delicate kite.
In high school, the husky girl inserted
a knife 51 times into her mother.
oh god, oh god, she won’t stop
it’s impeccable! Look at her runny
nose, her orbic bosom, her kneesocks
like two heavenly creatures. Memphis
was a realm of the unreal in that the
girls had dicks and faces like Kate’s doll.
They were never raped because of their
little insect crotches. Terribly convenient.
We ran a marathon on Fat Tuesday.
We wore the crowns with our bleached
out jorts. Lawbodies static, and boom-booms
to the head. It was a condition
of our release that we never meet again.
for C. A.
The Little Girl holds up
her tulle-lantern tool.
The man wonders
how anything so like a frog
could ever grow into
the billowy woman.
Look how her
peter pan collar wilts.
Her wormhole sheening,
the Little Princess
is a baby woe
for which my shadow-play
earns huge applause. Forget
this wonderful goldilocks here
in my mirror is a nostalgia
I’ve worked for for decades.
The doll behaves for me,
distracts from my aging face,
helps the witchy conference call
dismiss my cheeks.
Yet I miss the catcalls,
I miss my extraordinary youth.
Teaching his tiny box to conquer,
the little prince
He doesn’t want me to suffer
in seeing him flail,
but his chapeau
is the littlest death
that will get me in the end.
I miss my friend, the snake.
I miss all the little girls
I’ve ever known,
who are like the tamed foxes,
thorny roses, and a sad well.
Their roaming plagues collect
like Nancy Drew going dark
on a folktale latrine,
and sewing my cape to my epaulets
is the Lizzie Borden-girl of my dreams,
thigh vs. thigh, clipping
cartoony wings in the parlor hole.
The Coppertone baby prone
to day-long fits of
deeply disliking. I’m never cruel
for cruel reasons,
only when childhood croaks
like a cool mantle, and leaves:
A butt hanging out
of a bathing suit.
A tan line for a gray guy
Tonya Harding abusing
her frizzy hair.
A celibate adult getting off
on her garden (its rows!).
La Petite my religion your cup
won’t you draw me a picture
of un enfant so young
she may never have a reason to die.
Did you know the tornado siren at noon is a test its the one.
From a world war it scares the dog you can hear it from the prison.
Three hours before the police a girl you grew up with took three hours.
She took a knife from her childhood kitchen and went up to see mom.
Not til the hours were done was she guilty see guilt is the main thing.
Do you wonder if those who commit things are distinct.
From those who do not if we are both looking down the same well.
It’s the general principle of belonging and death some afternoons.
Like catharsis I recall the decay of my hometown its famous collapse.
When your daughter murders you she will stage the kitchen it seems.
Like a burglar she will choreograph the knives a rock.
I recall all my witness my beautiful white girl hair that I dangle down a tower.
Like the collusion of skin do you wonder what sins of white women.
Are distinct from all others if we are looking down the same well.
This girl I grew up with her race her physical shape our American town.
Gave her story the theater it deserved now I can pass our prison on my bike.
Molly Rose Quinn is a poet living in Brooklyn and the Director of Public Programming at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Her poems appear in Black Warrior Review, Everyday Genius, No, dear, Two Serious Ladies, Coconut, Four Way Review, Underwater New York, and other places. Her essays and interviews appear in The Atlas Review, Freerange Nonfiction, The L Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail. She is a fiction committee member for the Brooklyn Book Festival and co-organizer of the Moby-Dick Marathon NYC. She was raised in Memphis, Tennessee where these poems take place.