Bastard Nation / Michelle Castleberry


Citizens of the Bastard Nation, unite!
Come forward, all you unauthorized,
illegitimate, and unplanned.
Babies nicknamed "oops" and "Our Little Mistake."
Stand up.

Calling all former outlaw infants, zygotes on the loose.
Tiny, uninvited, sneaking into the back row
of the hospital nursery with a name turned to the wall.
Yes, you the wiggling pin in the keyhole of wedlock.
Left on stoops, or packed onto trains,
adopted out, fostered, forgotten foundlings foundering
in group homes, aging out of the cuteness
needed to lure that Forever Family.

Come, you demiurge of urges, who drew together
your first parents then flipped them like bar magnets.
Babies in a field of Pull. Push. Pull. Push—finally away, away.
Join us, you the unclaimed freight of love, lust, incest or violence.
Children of rape, children of prostitution,
children of loveless love or love gone out.
Common as weeds, stubborn, but alive, alive-oh.

Join us.

Here you are. The bastards are here.
No matter how you earned membership,
stand with us.
We'll meet under the sign of the sperm
with a question mark tail
at a pub called "Mother's Milk."

Beautiful bastards, your first task is to stand up straight.
unslouch, unbend, unapologize for your very existence.
You owe no dues here nor to anyone.
You are the time-release bombs of serendipity and love.
Your secret mission is to be.
Observe the world from exactly
your eyes, and heart, and skin.
Then report back in song,
in words, in deeds of fierce kindness.

You do have family, you do have kin.
We are all sons and daughters
of John and Jane Doe,
The Adam and Eve of bastardy,
which makes this a kind of family reunion.
So good to see you.

No, the world may not have wanted us,
but goddamnit, it needed us.
So here we are.
The bastards are here.
Be ready to be loved.
Because we are everywhere

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