after my mother cuts open a chicken because her joints are bothering her

by Jamison Crabtree

She says that a brown paper bag
soaked in vinegar might also work.

I was never unnerved by blood as I was the sight of the blood

that she rubs onto her elbow, moving
towards the end of her arm and then away from it
the same way she paints walls.

When you asked me what traditions we had, my family,

all I could think to say was medicine: churchyard dirt, tea,
bones, blood, chalk, we heal ourselves with splinters.

You respond with the fact
your family eats cod every New Year’s Eve.


I tell you my mother never
spoke to my father. I tell you my father
never asked her to.

I tell you I don’t know what to tell you. So
here, now, this: tradition
is placing trust in whatever shows a result.

JAMISON CRABTREE’s poetry appears (or is forthcoming) in No Tell Motel, Anti-, Poor Claudia, LIT, Best New Poets 2009, and elsewhere. He sometimes lives in Tucson, Arizona.