Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Feral Baby


The Feral Baby
In the dark 
before breakfast I dreamed
that the baby fell on its head. It wasn't
my fault. It just climbed up my shoulder
and jumped. I only borrowed it
because you made me. It wasn't mine.
I am not one for babies.

it cried, so I put it in my purse
for the gypsy. She offered to give it a casserole.
  (Or was that use it in a casserole?) I said,
"It doesn't like my purse, but it wouldn't like a
casserole any better." I'm not one for babies,
but I know that much.
I took it back to you 
at the urban university lab. You put
 a ribbon on it, called it Jean, kissed it.
 It was fine then. I was tempted to
sneak it back to its mother, but
you'd turned her into a starling.
And that's how
she came to be my child. 
I'm not one for babies
until they learn how
to fly.
 January 2022

 posted for 
Note: No babies were harmed in the production of this poem.
Images: Creeping baby doll, 1871   Public Domain
Starling Murmuration © Menno Shaefer    Fair Use


  1. Agreed. If the little snots can't fly, then why bother? LOL! This is so absurd and so much fun. I love love love the surprising line about borrowing it. Who 'borrows" a baby unless it is to fuss over it and then hand it back? Thios woman's dilemma is preposterous, but the reader gets drawn in all the same. Then the urban lab!! And turning her into a starling! Better off, I say. And, of course, the woman then keeps her. I am dying here. (Are you still in Russell Edson mode? Just asking!) Starling silver lining indeed. Fantastic, Joy, in every sense of the word.

    1. Thanks, Shay, for this, and for hosting your excellent lists--and yeah, I think Edson made more of an impression on me than I realized.

  2. Love it! --though I'm not one for babies.

  3. Too, too clever ... from jumping baby to starling baby!!!! Smiles and chuckles from me.

  4. Winding a charm takes three stanzas and the truth. This hopping chile somehow reminds me of women in psychoanalysis who dreamed their teething child was devouring their breasts. Just keeps hoppin' back until the dream gives it wings. I'm with Mark - hopping, flying, 'tis yours.

  5. The feelings evoked here are wonderful. I love how it has a matter of fact feel to major things that make is so captivating, and the ending is absolutely lovely. I love this poem Joy!!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Oh Joy, you both bewitch and creep me out in equal measure in just the way I like. There is such dream image surrealism here that has such disturbing familiarity about it, that we all relate to because we've had similar dreams where the unthinkable happens. Simple powerful verse, even more powerful images, and a beautiful swooping ending, so understated, so cool <3

    1. Thank you Sunra. And thank you for the peace in your poem I read this morning.

  9. boy, after reading this, i don't know if i trust you with sea monkeys =) i really got a kick out of this joy, and i really like that jalopy-baby in the image... i'm not much for babies either, but i have a serious soft spot for jalopy-babies. i'm always jealous of your ability to put words together in unique ways and retain strong means, this poem is no different. feed your sea monkeys!

    1. Ha! No sea monkeys were harmed in my long career of not actually having any, either. Glad you liked phillip, thanks. I'm lmao at jalopy baby, too.

  10. Oh! My! Goodness! I am grinning from ear to feral ear. I love this way too much!

  11. Killed it with those last lines! I love the "I'm not one for babies" refrain, makes the whole thing hang together. The casserole lines were hilarious.

  12. Just as I read that last line, the sun burst out from the clouds in synchronicity. It really feels like a dream with the disparate quirky images. I just mentioned changing starling to crow in my poem to someone and I thought of that as I read the end. The metaphors are wondrous and rich here, Joy. A real potent potable.

  13. p.s. Your use of repetition here was very effective!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

Comment Moderation Has Been Enabled