Poetry: The Monsters Are Due— by Jennifer Givhan

Here, Jennifer Givhan lays bare a particular American anxiety, in all it’s ambiguity, in all its banal suburbanness. “The Monsters Are Due” is about motherhood and childhood and Americanhood—a reminder that once eyes are open, we have to fight to keep them that way.


The Monsters Are Due—

++++++++++++++++++++The neighbor kids helping hang the stars
& stripes on 45’s inauguration day were not allowed
to play with ours after school then or since but never said why
& me walking mine home as I do
++++++++++++++++++++++++the only helicopter mother
on our block the only mother of a black boy

the children talking of crushes & sweetness
& the neighbor boy saying he could never like so & so—
his dad says he could never marry a black.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++I suck the air past garbage
bins & springtime magnolia & think of the boy whose
mother sent him to take out the trash & his white neighbor
shot him in the face.

++++++++++++++++I lay us on the balcony nights to name
the constellations. Through curtains tightly drawn we see a bluish haze
of television & canned laughter & I can’t imagine they’re teaching theirs
how to map their way away
++++++++++++++++++++as the bees who’ve taken residence
in our wood burning stove & swarm the metal smokestack not
with honeycomb but their bodies broiling atop each other buzzing
through the night—

++++++++++++++++++++We light the fire.



Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American writer from the Southwestern desert and the author of three full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series), and Girl with Death Mask (2017 Blue Light Books Prize). Her honors include NEA and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowships, and her work has recently appeared in POETRY, Crazyhorse, Witness, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, and The Kenyon Review.

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