you could go to church with your mom like she asked, but you really want to have sex
with X. you hop in the shower with him, which is public. other people are doing it
so you start doing it too. then your mother shows up, naked, her breasts enormous, areolas
perfect crimson discs. you’re worried X will compare your breasts to your mom’s,
which are superior. this is just weird. she’s too into it. you notice course black hair on her
thighs, her arms, and the sides of her boobs, like a primate. a revolting relief:
now you don’t have to rival her. but why would she disguise herself as your father?
the dog’s head splits, each neck a plume
of mutual serpents.
mutable. beneficent and brutal,
he transposes back to dog,
compels us to look into his brown eyes
as we have evolved to do,
for clue, and there we recognize
the us and the not-us;
we think of the worst, which causes him
to turn rabid again. every time he finds
his way back to dog, we conjure
the snake heads, cyclones
that howl. it’s a game where we must
away from our urge for evil, our rage.
the longer we play,
the more primitive the beast,
the more sympathetic the dog.
Jules Gibbs is the author of a book of poems, Bliss Crisis (The Sheep Meadow Press), and a chapbook, The Bulk of the Mailable Universe (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets anthology, The Antioch Review, Forklift Ohio, Plume, Gulf Coast, H_NGM_N, Barrow Street, Salt Hill, Better Magazine, Los Angeles Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and other places. She lives in Syracuse, NY, where she teaches literature and creative writing at Syracuse University. She also serves as poetry editor for the national political magazine, The Progressive.