Claire Scott

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Broken Birdsong

A Feminist as Fuck T-shirt
purple dreads, pierced upper lip
passing out sandwiches in People’s Park
sorting cans at the County Food Bank
marching for gay rights, trans rights, disabled rights
marching for the right to choose
Ho-Ho, Hey-Hey
            Women’s rights are here to stay!
you, my only daughter

I go back and back to visit your grave
before you were born
before you were allowed to be born
syringes, suction, cramps for days
the lure of tall buildings and kitchen knives
doses of mind-dulling Risperdal
but I went on, diminished, but I went on
and you did not

No bird, no wing, no song
I walk backward into the future

A Berkeley Dilemma

Do I exist if my mother doesn’t recognize me
calls me by her sister’s name or her aunt’s
or simply stares and says nothing at all
her mind skipping through the decades before I was born
am I subtracted from this world as her memory fades
a dilemma far more serious than a fallen tree
in a dense forest with no one to hear
but I still know her and us together
our nut brown hair, pale blue eyes, dimpled chin
sandcastles and sea glass on the Jersey shore
raucous rounds of Old MacDonald with cows
camels and plenty of poop on the farm
year after year candles on a lopsided cake
my name in pink frosting
doesn’t that count for something

Breach of Contract

I want to lodge a complaint
it is being notarized as we speak
you promised to count the hairs on our heads
although I can’t imagine why you would bother
surely there are better ways to spend your time
what of a family living under layers of cardboard
rain washed, wet clothes, constant cough
or a mother stealing insulin for her son
shaking and sweating, thimble heart racing
or people walking lockstep with cancer
unable to pull ahead

If you really want to count hairs it’s OK by me
after all you are the Big Man
but the fine print assumes we will have hair to count
nothing was said about our hair falling out
from weekly infusions that kill harmful cells
but also heaps of healthy ones, leaving us
listless, nauseous, anemic & fog-brained
sending our daughter to school
without a peanut butter sandwich
with a dab of grape jelly & no crusts
too weak to read Goodnight Moon
skipping pages, hoping she won’t notice
sit by us now, don’t forget those of us with no hair
wearing scarves, baseball caps and ill-fitting wigs
we are still your children


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.