He stole a potato from a bin

by the icebox, gray metal, three

spots of black dirt. He tasted dirt


and raw potato, his mother above

him, hands soapy from dishwater,

fingers forcing his mouth open, then

the taste of her. He sucked marbles

kept in a sock, cold little eyes, steelies

he shot through the neighborhood.

He lied to his mother. She said

it was gambling to play for keeps.

He crouched by her bureau, smelled

lipstick and powder, watched rhinestones

glint in a beveled box. He is the landfill

he read about, ten-year-old steak

wrapped in newspapers, marbled fat,

muscle of meat buried in garbage,

none of it taken back by the ground.


Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.