Flying Fox | Kristi Maxwell

a beautiful outlaw lipogram

Ease craves abracadabra but that’s rare.
Rare as map-true treasures. As mad campers.
As upchuck deemed “a beaut.” Success makes us
seethe—Tupperware must just keep, whereas we
must be esteemed. A steam a steam a steam. (We steamed.
Teamed up.) The death we tempted rebuked us. The packrats
rejected us. Much was averted. Papers were persuaded: “repress
tree pasts.” A rebus was made: a pea, a cub, a puckered mouth.
Are we scared? Ha. Wash these sham scars.

A note on process: This poem is part of a series of lipograms, writing that excludes one or more letters. Specifically, the beautiful outlaw (a lipogram that does not use the letters in the subject’s name—in this case, the name of an endangered species) explores what happens when what is endangered is instead absent—gone. The formal strategy nods to global trends regarding climate change and strategies of elimination (eliminating carbon emissions, red meat consumption, plastic, etc.).

Kristi Maxwell is the author of seven books of poems, including My My (Saturnalia Books, 2020); Realm Sixty-four, editor’s choice for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize; Hush Sessions, editor’s choice for the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize; and Re-, finalist for the National Poetry Series. She’s an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisville.