Oyster Boy Review 16  
  Winter 2002
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American Family Poems #4

Charles Fort

They taught their children well
to hate one half of the world
and what they thought was love
balanced on their hind legs like a mantis

left a blot tempted by their ignorance
between the sweet and fatal kiss
and the door to the emberfield
thrown open against their comfort.

What little they read they believed.
What the children were taught blossomed
into ripened nipples and tuxedo wings
and rows of teeth for the beloved.

They were taught by their elders to hate
how to play well, play dead, pay back.