The Kid By Ai


I came across this poem years ago in an anthology called;  The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry edited by Alan Kaufman and published by Thunder’s Mouth Press NY. The book by no means the be all end all , nor does it claim to be but what it is, is  a treasure trove of true Americana. Below is Ai’s poem with links to info regarding her. Here is a link regarding The Outlaw Bible – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outlaw_Bible_of_American_Poetry

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The Kid

By Ai

My sister rubs the doll’s face in mud,   
then climbs through the truck window.   
She ignores me as I walk around it,   
hitting the flat tires with an iron rod.
The old man yells for me to help hitch the team,
but I keep walking around the truck, hitting harder,   
until my mother calls.
I pick up a rock and throw it at the kitchen window,   
but it falls short.
The old man’s voice bounces off the air like a ball
I can’t lift my leg over.
I stand beside him, waiting, but he doesn’t look up
and I squeeze the rod, raise it, his skull splits open.   
Mother runs toward us. I stand still,
get her across the spine as she bends over him.
I drop the rod and take the rifle from the house.   
Roses are red, violets are blue,
one bullet for the black horse, two for the brown.  
They’re down quick. I spit, my tongue’s bloody;   
I’ve bitten it. I laugh, remember the one out back.   
I catch her climbing from the truck, shoot.   
The doll lands on the ground with her.
I pick it up, rock it in my arms.
Yeah. I’m Jack, Hogarth’s son.
I’m nimble, I’m quick.
In the house, I put on the old man’s best suit
and his patent leather shoes.
I pack my mother’s satin nightgown
and my sister’s doll in the suitcase.
Then I go outside and cross the fields to the highway.
I’m fourteen. I’m a wind from nowhere.   
I can break your heart.

 

Ai, “The Kid” from Vice: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1999 by Ai. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. www.nortonpoets.com.

Source: Vice: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1999)

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171245

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“My writing of dramatic monologues was a happy accident, because I took so much to heart the opinion of my first poetry teacher, Richard Shelton, the fact that the first person voice was always the stronger voice to use when writing. What began as an experiment in that voice became the only voice in which I wrote for about twenty years. Lately, though, I’ve been writing poems and short stories using the second person, without, it seems to me, any diminution in the power of my work. Still, I feel that the dramatic monologue was the form in which I was born to write and I love it as passionately, or perhaps more passionately, than I have ever loved a man.”[8]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ai_%28poet%29

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