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My Doomsday Sampler


A There is no way to argue
with you. I have seen
your pride. I will stitch
you into this cloth so
that you point to the mirror.


B I will stitch you round
with greed and your two bellies.


C I will call you the mouth
that calls for trouble.


D I will dare to divide you
with the moon
and still see your dark light.


E You say you were blown east
by the ill wind, but I
will stitch in your lust.


F I can find no better way
to stitch you than to
follow your arms
that point left to all fear.


G You are the gulp after
the swallow of gluttony.
So I will stitch you as you are.


H I have seen your desire
to be a fence, to be two
poles that hold a clothesline,
but no, I will not reward
your envy. I will stitch
you only as an H.


I You think you are what I am,
but you are wrongheaded.
I will stitch you
without a head.


J I have seen you jump for joy,
but I do not believe
you are joyous. I will
stitch a lid on your jump.


K I want to be kind to you
though you kill. I want
to stitch you into this cloth
so that you will keep
your two hands off my neck.


L You live the life of low
thoughts and are lower than
a snake and a brother to evil.
I will stitch you with
my dark thread as a snake.


M Maybe you are as magnificent
as a mountain, but I don’t
believe it, or make
me believe it.


N No one understands your slide
from nothing, or why you lean.
I will stitch in
your look of sloth.


O You open your mouth to say
nothing like a fool.


P Please let me off your hook.
Let’s just say I stitched you
with a big lip and pouting.


Q You break a circle
the same way you break in here
like a thief. I will stitch
you hanged with your tongue out.


R Reason is with you, but
you rule it out. You are
rude and stubborn. I will
stitch you to stay
where you planted your feet.


S I see the silly river you
are that has changed its mind.
My stitch will sink your fish.


T You stand for trouble.
I cannot get by you without
pricking myself
with this needle. I will
stitch my pain into your T.




Watch out. You have left
your begging hand open.
The slap of anger is not money.
I stitch you and the
as vulnerable.


W Watch out. There are deadly
sins everywhere and cut-
throats, liars, cheats.
Don’t change. I don’t want
to stitch you in wrong.


X You are the crossroads
here between good and evil.
I will stitch you in
as the X that marks the spot.


Y I have seen your remorse.
I will stitch you as
the two hands before prayer.


Z You end what was begun
with a sleep or
the sneeze of a doomsday.
I will stitch you last
with the dark star of a knot.



This poem first appeared in New Orleans Review 17.3 (1990).

Sue Owen won The Journal Award (Ohio State University Press) for her second book, The Book of Winter (1988).