JoAnna Novak


While we wait, we swallow our tongues and let sound
fall away. Have you ever been a dog’s thought? One brain

veiled by other tough stuff: the sharper the animal, the bored-er
this chicken, for instance, so blahed of walking dirt and pecking

cake, bird of delicate steps and little feet and beaky beak, nosey for
grit. Is cake in the dirt but corn, sugar in the mud but feathers, scalies

slow toes, beast and both, beat plus bird, plumage fluke, flue heaving smoke
dilly daily puffing proud around your grounds, walking, taking, reciting,

retching, achey at the pen, itchy for kisses and skittles, skitters showering

grain, sisters scabbing corn, sweet pesky tetchy bird, black at her root, yellow
-skinned, red-eyed, bored hen, blaming blue sky and empty pans, cock-scrubbed

cake, two-tiered, thrice-ringed with flowers cake, swagged on hopes and
scrolled in silk and golden boredom, animal heart, cake your dusty

altar, may it be hot sweet melting, rake or hoe, complete on stand, sucky
empty, feed-thrown afternoon cake of lies and syllables, pecky

pink tongue in pollyanna’s beak, cake for cups and cake of pilgrims,
cake after birth and cake for pluck, bird on two, chasing smarts and rusty

overalls. Nonsense in the chocolate, tom fooleries of liquor, field where I bake
caramel sun, I balk and cluck and brood: if only you would abuse me.


JoAnna Novak is the Pushcart Prize-nominated author of Laps (forthcoming from Another New Calligraphy), a limited-edition art book of short fictions, andSomething Real (dancing girl press, 2011). She holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Washington University and an M.F.A. in poetry from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her writing has recently appeared in Guernica, Joyland,and Pank; new work is forthcoming in Hobart, Forklift Ohio, Heavy Feather Review, Los Angeles Review, and other journals. With Thomas Cook and Tyler Flynn Dorholt, she edits Tammy. She lives in Massachusetts, where she is working on a memoir.