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   s t a t e s i d e

--- M I C H A E L   M A G E E

That guy is my mom. The nipple is officially an orifice. Or a fistula it would be. It's natural. When a bird

kidnaps a bee there's a civil war, the berserkers on the front line accounting for most of the buzzing and flapping

though now we are more officially talking about bears. Some people think the bears do this just to get off, that

it's nothing like a war between, say, rival t-cells, which has the albeit exaggerated logic of micro- biology behind it.

He's tell 'em by their spinal tap. My mom I mean. tap tap tap like a visitor or a salesman. What's he trying to sell? Nipple make-up?

A home fistula repair kit? Is that legal or natural seems a useful distinction. Then there's the matter of "natural law", which is to say,

he used to tell me, all law 's nurtural, and the rest was deciding whether he'd meant natural: whether that funny accent he was born

with had slurred it. When he speaks he spits a mud gray sleet. The most common slur for this is slut, from the Norwegian, slutr, meaning

"sleet." The Middle English fear of impurity. A slush fund is dirty money. Promiscuity, from the French, meaning pro-mixing. Feeling all mixed-up. Nobody

likes to hear their mom called a slut or some variation, the principle behind most "your mom" jokes, his or her poverty being

another soft spot, obesity a third, slug, also from the Norwegian, a slow, heavy person, sits around the couch, spreads out, etc.

Spreading, the metaphor of contagion, thank God them things are nipples, they say, cause if them's was fistula-discs we'd all be paying the piper.

When war begins my mom generally enlists, leaves the states. The headlines tend toward, Civilians Get Fidgety Fistula Fantasies, and he reads the writing on the wall,

throws on an old berserker and goes. The scratch of bear-hair makes his nipples feel official. And his new husband cooing, don't worry, there's a war on.

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