Stephanie Cawley


A machine weaves cloth
so a woman can write
a poem. The machine weaves
so one woman can write
a poem while another woman

wipes the first woman’s
baby’s bottom. The first woman
sells her machine which
makes a new machine
that chuffs steam in the baby’s

face. She gets fat with the grease
and feeds her fat into the machine
to turn it to green
smoothies. A woman weaves

by hand and feeds her hand-
woven cloth into the machine.
It turns into rotted fruit.
It turns into misshapen
carrots crushed

in the delivery truck.
A woman feeds her legs
into the machine
and the machine feeds her
a feast of runny

eggs. This is called
an exchange rate. The machine’s
eggs are greasy
and good. A woman
feeds her own eggs into

the machine and gives birth
to the first machine
son. The son rages
against his father,
the machine, by climbing

to the top of the machine
and planting a flag.
The flag is made of
cloth woven by
a machine but made to look

woven by a woman’s hand
which is also
a kind of machine. Into
a hand goes water,
knives, blood, grease,

and out comes
a lumpy cloth,
a platter towering
with burnt eggs.
An egg is a miniature

machine spit out
of a chicken who isn’t
a machine but does
let her babies labor themselves

into being. A woman
builds a machine
that turns her own hair
into cloth she refuses to feed

to the machine.
She hangs the cloth
in a room she thinks
is outside the machine
but is actually

another machine that turns
paintings into caviar
and mini-quiches.
In despair she feeds
her hand into her hair-

cloth making machine
and the machine
spits out a machine
baby who won’t
stop screaming.


Stephanie Cawley is a poet in Philadelphia. She is the author of My Heart But Not My Heart (Slope Editions) and the chapbook A Wilderness (Gazing Grain Press). 

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