{An Umbrella Special Feature}

 A. E. Stallings

is a 2011 MacArthur Fellow and the author of Archaic Smile (1999), Hapax (2006), and Olives, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press early in 2012.

Her translation of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things), came out in 2007.

She lives in Athens, Greece where she directs the poetry program at the Athens Centre.

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Teething Blues

Can’t you hear it, baby? It’s knifing through my dreams:
Again the stabs in the dark, again the muffled screams.
They say it’s temporary. Isn’t how it seems.

Something is cutting and biting, and ripping its way through,
Something is whetting its blades, learning to tear and chew.
Hush, go to sleep little baby. Baby, what’s eating you?

The keening started weeks ago. Nobody’s slept since.
No sleep again tonight, the horror flick begins:
The skull tries to gnaw its way out; it’s the skull that grins.

Earplugs all lined up, like bullets for the brain,
Foam bullets cannot stop what’s driving us insane,
They cannot stop the crying, cannot stop the pain.

Alarm’s about to detonate. Something pules and carps,
Momma, why does the night ache, why this mouthful of sharps?