She sits quiet, drunk on her own anger
again & his despicable

drips down each fang just like
the bourbon from out his pores—

don’t misunderstand, she’s seasoned, racked up
husbands & guzzlers, & all she learned

from Mother who was no princess &
all the grandmothers dating back

to the Revolution & perhaps even back
to Babylon, too, the kind of ladies

whose mouths keep ready at the draw
& even—sometimes—a knife

in the boot or under the cuff but always
(all ways) a foot out the door

& no time for red ribbons in their hair
or the tipped-hat gallantry of sailors &

cowboys, no, just a girl & her horse,
perhaps, or her pen or her knuckles

or her two good feet, & today he’s chiding her
again & she knows someday soon—

not tomorrow, but one day—that sleeping quake
in her will erupt & the whole house

will be on fire & she’ll be gone so quick
he’ll wonder if she was ever real, maybe

just a night vision or a made-up thing
like a Jackalope or Medusa or God.



Originally published in Flapperhouse and appears in Verlee’s third book, prey.

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JEANANN VERLEE is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellow and the author of three books: prey, finalist for the Benjamin Saltman Award (Black Lawrence, 2018); Said the Manic to the Muse (Write Bloody, 2015); and Racing Hummingbirds, silver medal winner in the Independent Publisher Awards (Write Bloody, 2010). She is a recipient of the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize. Her poems and essays appear in a number of journals, including Adroit, BOAAT, BuzzFeed, VIDA, and Muzzle. She has served as poetry editor for Winter Tangerine Review and Union Station, among others, and as copy editor for multiple individual collections. Verlee performs and facilitates workshops at schools, theatres, libraries, bookstores, and dive bars across North America. She collects tattoos, kisses Rottweilers, and believes in you. Find her at

One response to “How Women Begot the Bible”

  1. was not a sacred prostitute; she was a public woman, who might be found along the roadway (as virgins and married women should not be). She could engage in sex, but might also be sought out for lactation, midwifery, and other female concerns. By looking for a

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