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  • Writer's pictureBulb Culture Collective

The Cry-Baby by Frances Klein

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

You never put no stake in astrology-

never gave no mind to Mercury

in retrograde, or Mars in remission,  

or what have you-

but when you come out the door

to the sight of your buttonbushes 

swaddled in spiderwebs, 

you take that as an omen.  

When the August heat sets in

the spiders will waterfall 

through every crack and cranny,

set up shop in the eaves, 

litter the linoleum 

from the cat having caught them, 

eaten half the legs, and lost interest.  

At night you will listen 

to the spider-sentries 

patrolling this new territory  

and think of that old Tlingit story, 

the boy who cried so long 

the family fed him crowberries 

just to shut him up. 

But when morning came  

all that was left was a hollowed out husk, 

and those hadn’t been crowberries 

but spiderberries, 

the wailing mother falling to her knees 

as spiders pour 

from her child’s every orifice, 

the planets aligning to eclipse her world.

originally published by Amaryllis Poetry, 2016

Frances Klein (she/her) is a poet and teacher writing at the intersection of disability and gender. She is the author of the chapbooks New and Permanent (Blanket Sea 2022) and The Best Secret (Bottlecap Press 2022). Klein currently serves as assistant editor of Southern Humanities Review. Readers can find more of her work at


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