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Ugly Duckling

beginning with a line from Rafael Campo

My version of the fable goes like this:

The duckling is a duckling, not a freak

mislaid in a dainty nest, no cygnet faker

despite himself. His brothers give him shit

and are, in fact, his brothers, a raft of lemon-

yellow kin who make of him a monster.

The family he finds, he finds in mentors:

a mallard, feathers green upon his melon,

his wingspan slashed with iridescent blue,

and all his handsome, feral, clownish mates

who make the wet about the duckling steam.

They speak of things his family won't: of lube

on rectrices, of corkscrews and their corks.

They know what ugly means, what ugly lusts

for: proving beauty wrong. He loves these sluts,

their brazen flight. Shot, they fall like rocks.

[Thanks to the Bennington Review for originally printing this piece.]

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