Sweet land of laboring, I am your sheep,
bleating in your concrete pastures,
offering myself up for shearing, let me
be fleeced. Let me be husbanded, herded.
Of thee I sang-froid, I calm at your terror
scale. When your flags fly up
and your ordure comes down, I anchorite,
I cloister, by my own hand penned.
Land where my fathers did work
themselves to death, did walk on
and strike rockets at the moon, did chop
cherry trees, did not tell lies.
Land of the pills, grams, pried open
mouths, I swallow you down: much
madness is assent. I spoon full of sugar,
I medicinal merry-go-round.
From every mountain’s hide I neon
my home, revere your glow, applaud
your bootstrap plots, your melting pot,
how it oils my tongue, let free, dumb.
Jennifer Perrine’s first collection of poems, The Body Is No Machine, won the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry. Her second book, In the Human Zoo, received the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. Perrine teaches English and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University.