A Poem From 13th Balloon by Mark Bibbins

A New Collection from Copper Canyon Press

February 6, 2020  By Mark Bibbins

A few months after you died

I came home on a black and freezing night

to find a small cardboard box

on the steps outside my building


I opened the lid and inside

was a single newborn animal

hairless pink and clean

a rat a guinea pig I couldn’t tell


Was it moving        I don’t remember now

why can’t I remember that now

It can’t have been moving

it couldn’t have

been alive

I considered my cat        asleep

in my apartment        would he

kill this creature if it lived

Did I have any milk

and how would I get any milk

anyway inside this tiny thing

that surely could not be alive


What kind of person

might have come and left

a baby possibly dead

animal there in a box

on my stoop        what kind


If this was a test I failed it


I carried the box

three long blocks

to the river and threw it in


I have never so much

as in the moment the box went under

the surface of the water

stabbing and stabbing and stabbing itself

   with the moon’s million obsidian knives

wished that I were dead


If death is a test I fail


If death is a test I pass


13th balloon

From 13th Balloon by Mark Bibbins. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2020 by Mark Bibbins.

Mark Bibbins
Mark Bibbins
Mark Bibbins is the author of three books with Copper Canyon: 13th Balloon; They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full, named one of the best poetry collections of 2014 by Publishers Weekly; and The Dance of No Hard Feelings. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he co-founded LIT magazine, and in NYU’s Writers in Florence program. His work has appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and four volumes of The Best American Poetry. Bibbins received a Lambda Literary Award for his first book, Sky Lounge (Graywolf, 2003), and was a New York Foundation for the Arts fellow. He lives in New York City.

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