Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Coin-Operated Rattle Without a Snake

At my church they only handled dollars and pigeons.
I was starting to run out of revenue, or bills, or royalties.

That coo inside every baby doll manufactured in 1982?
It belonged to me. And not in the way all the soil beneath

my house belonged to me, or the way you still belong
to me, even though I no longer make the sound unless

accidental. There was no recording studio, just an acre
of wax and some dolls made of rubber with carpeting fur

pasted on top. A red brick building. Only one microphone,
but after I stepped up they packed it all away, even

the trailer filled with starlight mints. My church moved
into a trailer after the first fire. After the second fire

we moved instead. Who knew windows were flammable,
that air was only rented? My parents didn’t take a penny.

It was somewhat disturbing. By 1986 they counterfeited
my coo in numerous countries, while local high schools

forced teenagers to carry my coo around as a punishment
for displaying hickeys, or licking drinking fountains.

One woman returned her baby to the maternity hospital
because its coo was nothing like mine. Somewhere

a constellation of my voice leaked out of a landfill.
My real body was not nearly as stiff, or as hollow.    

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