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Sarah Burke

Honey Badger Speaks

You’ve never known what you want, let alone
how to rip it from the ground. You’re the same

little sad sack you’ve always been, watching
the sunrise over the chain link, flower beds

of dirt and broken glass, ivy climbing
the rusted mailbox. Tell me, how many cobra

skins have you shucked from the muscle?
When was the last time you plunged

your head into a beehive, sucked
the larva from the sting? Wipe the pixels

from your eyes, you sleepy fuck. It’s time
to dig, like this, claws deep in the changing

earth. Do you feel it yet? The stickleback
growing plates of armor? The hermit crabs

sheathed in plastic shells? Like us, you were born
to fight for scraps at the end of the party.

Remember, in another century,
there’s an unburned stake with your ancestor’s

name on it, a tiny skull that didn’t fracture
her pelvis, a virus that couldn’t crack its way

into her cells. You’ll never be a tough
motherfucker, but you’re here. Pump the venom

from your veins, or don’t. Cry as the ice
retreats, or follow it north like everybody else.

Sarah Burke is the author of Blueprints, which received the 2018 Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize Book Award. Winner of the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the James Wright Poetry Prize from Mid-American Review, and the Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize from Swamp Pink, she holds an MFA in creative writing and environment from Iowa State University. Her poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, Wildness, and other journals.

Honey Badger SpeaksSarah Burke
00:00 / 01:30
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