in massachusetts
the hummingbird i assumed
at the neighbours’ house
was a standard issue
sparrow vibrating mad
with grief or an involuntary
storm of chemicals
misplacing the basic
sense of self
contained when feeling
out your own borders
how useless
to do either
i do terrible things
to my posture but only
for the getting out never
for the getting in
i could pretend
i took a feather
from this shaking fake
touched it precisely
to all of my nails
as a blessing
but i hate birds
everywhere in poems
and in massachusetts
where a summer
is as atypical as it
is everywhere else
we all get in the water
in these months
which is as much
in the air as it is in itself
in massachusetts
i was told i’m nothing
if not a circle of salt
a statement i can stand
by drowning in the river
of blood mosquitoes
have made for me
there is always an excuse
for a slick red dress
instead of dreaming
of baptising myself
in iodine my poor
dreary sleep showed me
hanging hand-washed
shirts to dry on a hotel
balcony in florida
where i have never
been though i think
it is much like where
i am from the psyche
of peninsula quite
adaptable for smashing
yourself against rocks
at the beach hoping
it will assimilate you
truly in massachusetts
it is time to get serious
both in interactions
with elderly crossing guards
and the plants upon
which they set out
their portable chairs
as if we are still counting
instances of marking territory
this is a small state
i don’t own a part of
the full list is a still
foreign string
i wonder what flag
day is for when weekly
i wrap myself in fabrics
out of respect
for the americans
i am embroiled in
this is serious
my status is non-resident
in the same way
you can’t walk naked
around someone else’s
apartment as a guest
in a museum the most
deference should occur
to the classics
i’m not faking it
but i’ve never seen
the grand canyon
so my expression
for american majesty
needs work
likewise i have not
appreciated geographical
or ideological differences
in pizza on the east coast
what can i say
in massachusetts
that isn’t already a great
anthem to forest cover
to elaborate braids
in our girl hair as a reason
for leaving the house
in june when it is so sweaty
we could be anywhere
an anthem coronating
a stupid bird who is still
trying the window
where i have seen
my neighbours fight
and also eat dinner
outside their front door
hangs a flag so old
the white stripes
have disintegrated entirely
and i don’t know
what this means to american
hearts but i suspect
it will be included
on the citizenship test


Caroline Crew is the author of PINK MUSEUM (Big Lucks, 2015), as well as several chapbooks. Her poetry and essays appear in Conjunctions, Salt Hill Journal, and Black Warrior Review, among others. Currently, she lives in London. She's online here: