In The Interest Of Public Health

“People pollute, and too many people crowded too close together cause many of our social and economic problems. These, in turn, are aggravated by involuntary and irresponsible parenthood. As physicians we have obligations to our individual patients, but we also have obligations to the society of which we are a part. The welfare mess, as it has been called, cries out for solutions, one of which is fertility control.”
Dr. Curtis Wood,
Leader of the Association for Voluntary Sterilization
“Changing Trends in Voluntary Sterilization.”


At the scene of the crime the blooms shed their tongues
and other conditions of probation contingent upon

the edges of every clean driveway lit so night hot
the milkpod liberates its wild perfume to the state, calling

What wild Poor character and sexually promiscuous
delinquent in the dress you sold me, mister.

Offender, the public assistance oats you sew
do not open this cell. Look how sterile these corridors

And how clean this modern kitchen. Offender, you soil
this so-called body yours so-called and each egg bad!

Roll the good American tape back to that candy parked car
with the New research on synthetic oil and free blonde honey

Your wide so nasty it gets even wider WIC hips like beehives
swarming with dirty bad kids not contributing not like

Good boys and girls see, not doing that. Good babies.
And the jobs they deserve. Day laborer stock is for

ha ha ha In the garden, the laboring mother should open her mouth
and moan deeply from the throat to aid in the opening

of the cervix. Opening the glottis encourages the opening
of the body’s underground tunnel for the citizen escaping the knife.



Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is a writer, mother, and first generation immigrant born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Pinwheel, Buzzfeed, Epiphany, Southern Indiana Review, Apogee, Poor Claudia, PBS Newshour and elsewhere. She is the author of the collection of poems, Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series, 2017) and is currently pursuing her doctorate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 


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