A Poetry Reading

from Tom Paine



People do crazy shit. Now I am people.

Better late than never! I write this poem

for you, perfect person in a panic attack.

I write this poem ‘cause when I danced

the cray-cray, this poem was MIA. Perfect

people go crazy-crazy ‘cause when they get

all cray-cray, there is no poem or tattooed

cray-cray friend to say: we’ve been waiting

for your cray-cray heart to grab the wheel!

Here’s the good news: you will never smugly

shit on cray-cray again, and you will comfort

the cray-cray, as this direct poem hopes to do.

Here’s the bad news: before this mortal panic,

your life was a lie. I lied, that’s the best news.




Would you rather

be paralyzed

from the neck down,

or dead?

I awoke with this question,

and thought:

that’s a crazy-ass question.

So I made coffee

and sat on your quartz

in the garden;

waited. The birds sang,

I sipped;

shoveled my toes

in dark soil.

I kept thinking:

dead, or paralyzed?

Pick one, a voice said.

A honeybee sat down

on a petal of your pansy

and wiggled her ass.

How does this honeybee fly?

Another crazy-ass

morning thought:

but there it alights

again, insistently:

wherever the hell you are,

it is your fingertip

ferrying this honeybee

flower to flower.






Before your first sunset,

after a second wine,

we’d walk the goat trail


to the secret bay, watch

the sun pulled over cliffs,

and naked, we’d slip out


of the mouth of the bay,

and into the ocean’s rollers,

where we have no say.


Again, the sun will set,

as I kiss your lips at last—

the gale is to the North.

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By Miciah Bay Gault

Miciah Bay Gault is the editor of Hunger Mountain at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She's also a writer, and her fiction and essays have appeared in Tin House, The Sun Magazine, The Southern Review, and other fine journals. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont with her husband and children.