"During the pandemic, when so much was unquantifiable, I began to count: calories, steps, books, puzzles, bottles. In these tales, my count was 500 words or less."
- Emily Bobo
Emily Bobo is the author of three books and the editor of Bobo Books. Currently, she is department chair of Arts & Humanities at Ivy Tech Community College, where she teaches writing to single moms, ex-cons, and military vets. You can view her work at emilybobo.com. Emily joins us remotely over Zoom from her home and is reading from her 2019 collection titled "Tattle Tales."
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Emily, what poems have you brought for us today?
The original version of this tale is a brag where each line is a bigger lie about how great the Land of Cockaigne was.
The Tale about the Land of Cockaigne
In the days of the land of Cockaigne I went to Vegas and saw a man from Mandalay Bay hang out a window and shoot a crowd of people. Then I saw an old orange ass chase after two quick bunnies in a beauty pageant, and a mega church grew fat with the prosperity gospel. I saw a scrawny old elf carry cartloads of brown children off in cages and bury sixty loads of heartache in a bible. Now, haven’t I lied enough? Then I saw chickens grown without sunlight or soil, and a one-year-old defended himself in criminal court. All this was quite normal. Then I saw a white man drag a Costa-Rican woman by her hair through a Walmart parking lot and a white woman arrested for leaving her 5-year-old in the car outside the grocery store, while two cops shot a black child entering his home. Old men in the senate debated “legitimate rape” and a man’s “sexual freedom” to force himself on a woman who could abort his fetus, and a boy in Indiana shot a girl seven times because she wouldn’t go out with him. Then I saw another Catholic Priest convicted of molestation in Pennsylvania, and a pregnant teenager was made to watch a video of an abortion, while an uninsured baby had to open a GoFundMe account to pay for her chemo, and later, her funeral. A hurricane wiped out Puerto Rico, but nobody talked about why. Then the icebergs melted in the Arctic, and the sea levels rose in New Orleans and Miami, and volcanoes erupted on Hawaii, and fires burned down Washington, Oregon, and California. And a billionaire bankrupted public education by selling school choice, while another mother was arrested for letting her nine-year-old daughter play in the park alone. Then a black man kneeled during the National Anthem and ruined football and killed cable. There were also the farmers who traded their heartland for magic seeds and a combine. Then I saw the water turn to lead in Flint, and an old worn-out crow stood there and said it was all right. And in the courtyard, there were four horsemen beating money out of evangelicals with all their might, and Facebook fanned the flames of a Russian-owned oven while America cooked its own goose. Then I heard a whale make such a noise about her dead baby that the clamor reached all the way to heaven, and unrecyclable plastic flowed from a deep landfill into the ocean like sweet, sweet honey. And I saw a bald eagle commit suicide at Niagara Falls, which he had a perfect right to do. Then, finally, finally, breastfeeding in public was made legal, and a chicken crowed, “Cock-a-doodle doo!" The tale is done, truth is not truth!
You've been listening to poems by Emily Bobo. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.