The Baby That Ate Cincinnati
by Matt Mason
The Baby That Ate Cincinnati --Dedicated to those others who on telling people you're expecting your first child find they don't say "Congratulations," they first tell you how you're never leaving the house again ever. Way they say it, they say baby like a storm on the way, they say baby like that's the cue for the thunderclap to interrupt the wolves' long howls, they say I got three and they're the best ever happen to me as they say baby same as you'd say "run" they shout baby like there are flames lickin' at window frames tell us how their lives didn't just change, oh no, as they say baby like a hyena inside there comin' out fangs a-blazin', they say baby like it's standing right behind us like it's a tornado on the highway, but ain't it a marvel, way they talk, give that patronizing nod when we claim we still goin' to poetry readings, we still goin' to see movies, we still goin' to phone our unwed friends as they say baby like a bomb in the air, they say baby like just waitin' in the shelter now with AM radio and a can of pork n' beans you're so lucky, they weep, sincerely as I sit on the bed, knees held precious, watching my wife's belly, larger every day, wonderin' what's in there. We gonna need a priest, a gun, silver bullets, wire cutters, 16 gallons a hydrochloric acid, Red Cross, National Guard, seven million dollars in non-sequential unmarked bills because all these warnings giftwrapped with blessings when I know ain't gonna be the same around here; but baby, when we say "baby," let's say it like "bread," like "honey," like "beautiful," like "dear," like it's true.