Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Vessels of the State

in Health by

will no longer
refuse you

will give birth
and give birth
to all required infants
from all of our partners
and all our assailants
and we will give birth
to whatever we can
from babies
to manna
to bibles
to frying pans
we will give birth
to world peace and war
we will give birth
to more
and more
and more

and we will give birth
to swarms of locusts
and shaggy red devils
with razor-sharp horns
and we will give birth
to dashing steel daggers
and gleaming new teeth
and we will give birth
to braziers and pitchforks
to praise you

for you we will grow
as many vaginas
as Kali has arms

our vulvas will steam
sulfuric, primordial,
deliver your mandates
and scald doctors’ hands
with vesuvial pitch

we’ll never stop birthing
and crossing state lines
dropping your children
like land mines
until tempests whirl
from sin-tainted chasms
and chains pour forth
from between our legs
to hold us down
and still
we will bear lava
and wait for our lovers
our husbands
our rapists
our fathers
our uncles
our brothers
we’ll bear for them too
and praise them
and raise up new sons
and new vessels
just as you command of us
vessels of the state



Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. She’s the author of a novel, TreeVolution, a hybrid fiction/poetry collection, Circe’s Bicycle, and a short story collection, Midnight at the Organporium. She received her MFA from American University in 2019.


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