by Maggie Smith

It’s the 50s. You wear your dark Levis
cuffed up six inches. You have a cowlick.

There is a birthday party you won’t attend
after a bad haircut. Your mother says,

Button, it’s not the end of the world.
But the weathervane says, Button,

the end is near. It says the sky’s gone
yellow with twisters. Small white stars

are invisible all day, but you hear them
chatter like teeth. Button, they say, why

not play with the others? Look at them,
having a fine time. But you wish the devil

on the neighbors. You wish them nothing
to pin the tail on. You wish the children

snatched up in the funnel, paper punch
cups still in their hands. The devil won’t

call you Button. He says if you must
be haunted, at least be unashamed.


Maggie Smith is the author of Lamp of the Body (Red Hen), Nesting Dolls (Pudding House), and The List of Dangers (Kent State). She has received fellowships and awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Ohio Arts Council, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She blogs for The Kenyon Review and works as a freelance writer and editor. You can find her online at www.maggiesmithpoet.com.

[The above poem appeared in Lamp of the Body and is reprinted here by permission of the author.]

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