Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2019  Vol. 18 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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spell for their belly buttons/ with a dictionary clogging its windpipe

it’s a pretty simple story/ anyone could tell it/ we were trying to come up with my Latin name & E said it’s obviously umbilicus something/ I was like maybe it’s barnus umbilicus or riparius barnicus/ both invoke barnacles & their feathery protrusions/ invoke cords carrying blood/ invoke rivers & barns/

& driving past a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the side of a pole building we settled on riparius umbilicus/

when I was a gastropod things were pretty hard for me/ & I had a distinct opening

sounds better than umbilicus/ maybe it does/ but then again a river is always connected to its source/ ha ha geology jokes/ & all you need is Mohs scale

In English, mostly confined to medical writing

when I was a squirrel I was beautiful & I never even thought of the buttons

this week a giraffe had a giraffe in a box/ I know very little about it/ I admire the spots but I can’t click on the story/ it repulses me in its affectations/ I know the bark is falling off the trees in the burn zone/ & I don’t know if it’s from being so hot or from beetles/ I fear the trees are going nuclear/ like a president or dictator/ what’s the difference between the insects laying eggs in your curtains/ & the mammal working so hard to promote Toys “R” Us/

& all of the following are true:

1. historical example: The shell is thick, imperforate (no
    umbilicus), and usually has flat, spiral ribs

2. origin: Botany, zoology. a navel-like formation, as the
    hilum of a seed

3. historical example: In this case the shell is said to be
    umbilicated, and the opening referred to is the umbilicus

& standing around after the reading my students say you’re like the mom/ I cringe & the male professor laughs/ doubling across his own umbilicus/ forgetting his mother/ I’m always forgetting my mother/ we’re all guilty of erasing our mothers/ their ribs & their openings

in biology umbilicus is also the hollow or navel-like structure, such as the cavity at the base of a gastropod shell / a shell is also a fine place to raise a child/ if you’re a child/ or a hermit crab/ or a person afraid of the underground/ & the stratosphere

This experience is called a parade/ & I am plunging the future for its clogged pipe/ & this is called a routine/ & umbilicus has a root word named [     ]/ & when you kiss their faces when they are sleeping they still move their lips in a nursing motion/ it’s the same shape as a tree knot/ & this is what I call photosynthesis/

& when I was a tree I aspirated daily/ it wasn’t even dangerous/ & this is a supple climbing branch/ aka a magic portal/ this is how I got on the float/ I pretty much aced the application/ for the first time in a long time I wasn’t even overqualified/ if anything I was lacking/ save me a spot at our regular table

& when I was the wind I was terrible/ always ripping out root systems/ now that I’m a mother/ I’m always plugging them back in/ transplanting is another word for it/ umbilicus has a root word & it is umbilicus/ in the Latin its origin is navel, middle, center/ compare Latin umbō shield boss/ if you unfold the world map the western way the Latin is right in the middle/ like an American gazing at herself/ guilty as a writing “student”/ on the other side of the cord/ guilty of everything for which I was accused/ get me a letter for my chest/ make it a giant U/ better yet pin it on my belly/ now this is what I’d call a party/ we’ll need to begin taking turns/ the mansion has so many rooms left to be cleaned/ scrub them down with a bucket of salt & old stars/ & you know ratty underpants & undarnable socks/ make great furniture polishers/ get yr Swiffer it’s gonna be a long party/ we have so many floors to shine with the afterbirth  

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