Cake Failure

by: Denise Behrens

I am heavy as earth with all that could go wrong.
Called my mom, left a message, said I was afraid
of my birthday cake. It was the ganache that must
have fucked it up–too runny, too high altitude.
Was it my attitude? I am making a cake
on Ash Wednesday. I am afraid it will taste of
as if I didn’t try. I tried–mom, I’m afraid
the cake is
in. I’m
the cake is
in its own

I hate when the cake has skin. So instead I
made a cake of clay. I made a little doll, put
her on top, and ate her toes off. I am craving
the taste of god. The thing inside my body lacks
sweet teeth or teeth at all. I want to teach it the
meaning of earth so it does not fear its nature.
I am practicing, pureeing chalk and slipping
it into my coffee. I’ve been sneaking uncooked
rice grains when no one is looking. It wants a mouth
full of grass for breakfast–who am I to deny
it what it wants? I’ve been sneaking soil on the
sly, I have a pocketful of ice. Measure the
sugar. Measure the spice.
Measure so it comes out right.

I’ve baked a cake of knives.
I’ve baked a cake of fire.
I’ve baked a mud cake with
real worms. I will bake an
oyster cake with a pearl
inside. I will freeze frame
the moment when someone
cuts their teeth. Will it be
you, little girl? Will it
be you with the half tooth?
Will it be you buzz cut
son, my little caon, my
little con, will you wail
with all the shriek of a
rock in your shoe? Will it
be you my lover, my
Marlboro man? Though you
don’t smoke cigarettes.

That’s a sin, or will I
reverse the lens and snap
when I have clamped down hard?

Arrive at the field in heels. Come tromp my land, my
band of strangers, come with your tin trowels. I will
put you to work
in my bean field.
and your reward:

this cake contains pieces of a white snake. You won’t
even taste it, but when you’re finished you will be
wise. You will have worked up
an appetite
of a kind.

Disaster cake,
when cut, produces
a hurricane.

Go out to the
garden pick a
shark from the
Give me its jaws.

Storm’s a-comin’.

Here’s my cake dance.
Here’s how I step
from tile to tile.
Here’s how I make
a convection, a
conversation, a
confession of guilt.

Are you afraid of me?

Don’t be.

I’ve stuck in a pin filling.

Pin me.
We will marry in spring.