Three Poems by Estelle Bajou


Some of Us Are Born

Some of us give birth to ourselves
On the edge of the reservoir
Where you can hear the ice melt
I was looking at the mountain behind your face
Thinking of you crunching through miles of quiet trees,
Thinking of the world without me, for
Who has not sat terrified before the heart’s curtain
Saying don’t you take from me
what I am slowly learning
And still your dove’s eye your circling ribs
and my cheek still burning for
Who but you could open and dreaming
and put godless prayers in my mouth
Who but you could open and seeking
and tell me what love is about
Who but you could part me and wilding
and take my plain face in your maker’s hand
Who but you could part me and thrilling
and sing a note low enough for me to understand

The Future Is a Possible Injury: A Dialogue

Give me your mouth.

I can’t, I’m choking on a red clay road. I can’t, I’m choking on an original flavor—doornail, doornail—my mouth is full. I can’t say I’d even want to. The way you feel about yourself, the way you think about yourself, the way you lament—it’s all a form of privilege I can’t get behind. I mean, I can’t get it up for a coward, for a big bellyful of pity, for a bad-skin-wishing-to-be-pretty when there are people HUNGRY, people DEAD IN OUR MOUTHS like a language, political refugees, babies in CAGES. I can’t get it up for an unimaginative daytime wolf crier.

. . . Want to go out to eat? Hashtag brunch?

The last few years made me so angry I learned to make a note which produces a sublunary hum in the grabbing-back cavernous pussy of every woman on earth.

. . . Really?

I don’t know his name but there’s this man who’s deaf on my block, he’s from DR or PR or someplace,

he screams a sweet scream at me and waves when I leave for work sometimes. His lips are like two beautiful plump pink worms. His kindness, just a waving shouting kindness, makes me think there may be hope for us all.

Really though. Stop talking and come over here.

There were thousands of human bodies, well, skeletons now, thousands and thousands of years ago, maybe even hundreds of thousands, all buried together in this huge cave, then forgotten for so long no one believed it when they were found, like some people even cried, but not because those people were dead but because they all lived and we are living and we will all surely most positively die too and who will cry over our bones? Who will help us work on a kind of New Living? Who wants to splinter into a splinter group so someday some little New Kind of Sapien will learn the archaeology of Another Possible Future from some kind of reading device, and that will have been Us. You and me. We will happily have solved all kinds of problems, including but not limited to: the torture and killing of other people for reasons of power and hate + other reasons; the heating up of all the water making it inhospitable; the filling up of all the water with little plastic nurdles and microplastics and toxic sludges that choke all the fish; the eating of Genetically Pesticided Plants and Strangely Modified Animals; the spreading of disease; the burning up of the ozone layer; the invisible lines dividing up all the land; the—

Oh my GAWD would you PLEASE shut the FUCK. UP.

What? . . . Why?

Fuck. Fucking forget it then.


OK then.

OK fine.

Give me. Your mouth.

. . . OK.


Oh. . .

A Fixture at Other People’s Parties

If I’m lucky, I get paid to sit in a corner making loops of my own heartbreak, loops of professional courtesy, of historical servility, of soaring truth, of birds, political triumph, financial anxiety, kissing, hugging, the war at home, any sound that comes to mind.

I eye the cut sandwiches, cut fruit, crudités, cheese boards, and chilled soups. If I’m lucky, no one listens very closely, so my loops are just a wash of color under the lines.

I listen for the tinkling of ice in their glasses, the tinkling of small diamonds roped around long arms and necks, the tinkling of dainty restroom visits, the tinkling of change dropping into my bucket.

If I’m lucky, someone offers me a cold drink, an early night, a few questions on my way out the door.

At home I sit with my nose so close to the fan blades a sigh of defeat could end my face. I think: What have I done to help?

I get up, stand very still near the window with the lights off.

Estelle Bajou is a French-American polymath. Her poetry, art, and music is featured or forthcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, About Place Journal, This Broken Shore. She’s also a critically praised, award-winning actor and composer. Raised in a North Carolina furniture factory town, she now lives in Harlem with a bunch of houseplants where she works a lot of survival gigs. Visit her at

Check out HFR’s book catalog, publicity list, submission manager, and buy merch from our Spring store. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.