by Mary-Marcia Casoly

Mother, may I sleep with danger?
To be sure, you shortchange me at every chance!
Mother, may I grow parlance with flowers?
Not until the full moon umbrella steps on parsley.
Mother, may I kiss every knot of the wild?
You’ll come to make the very trees crabwalk and commit to arson.
Mother, is your whim for your seven daughters always so impartial?
No arousal is ever without risk.
Mother, may I be with child?
When you’ve trusted your own thin larceny, and not before opening
and shutting the Book nineteen times, jumping forward with feet apart,
then again, bringing your feet back together.

Mother, may I swim the ocean in order to find love?
You must wait an hour after eating before taking to water and
you must lamppost: lie face down and stretch arms forward, bring your feet
to that point reached by your fingertips.
Mother I have spoken in tongues!
For naught, you did not ask!  Walk backwards this very minute, return to
the starting line.

Daughters you will age me before my month is due.
Mother may I sing your song of mayhem: I love him. I love him, he is my frog.
Mother, may I may I may I may I may I may I —— eye May?
Son, wherever did you come from?

IMAGE: “Madame Meerson and Her Daughter,” pastel drawing by Mary Cassatt (1899).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Song of Mayhem” came from memories of the schoolyard, the children’s game: Mother May I. The movie title Mother, May I Sleep with Danger (1996) spurred along a sense of It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature and the Seven May Sisters.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary-Marcia Casoly is the author of Run to Tenderness (Pantograph & Goldfish Press 2002) and the editor of Fresh Hot Bread, a local zine of Waverley Writers — an open poetry forum based in the San Francisco Bay area. Her chapbook Lost Pages of Bird Lore was published by Small Change Series, Word Temple Press (2011) Her chapbook Australia Dreaming is included in the The Ahadada Reader 3, published by Ahadada Press (2010).