spit from my own tongue,
tastes milder
than the fucks hawked careless
and unaimed toward my or anybody’s face
from someone else’s back stoop
(the way my mother years and years ago
threw burning oil that hit the neighbor girl
who should not have been there)
though I note my stepchildren’s flinches
at my forever unexpected gobs
strewn not (as yet) at them—a bloodied
toenail, the kale gone liquid
in the bottom of the crisper, my favorite
series interrupted by football
or Trump.
Betrayed, I think,
the way this yellow cat
draped across the lap he thinks he owns
would be to know
that not near so many years ago
the cat I threw across the room
(he had peed in my bed)
did not land on his feet.
Across those years
these children not yet mine
had shuddered in their sleep.