This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features a poem by Sara Mumolo.


Top Places to Breastfeed

Today I read a conceptual poem about how to kill your wife

While I was breastfeeding

While I was handpumping in my ’96 Honda Civic

Where only one window rolls down

But it doesn’t matter because it was raining

Today I was pumping in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the family bathroom of the Museum of Art

While writing notes on my iPhone     

About work about how I wish I could be writing a poem

Then I went to a poetry reading

Where I read poetry with 3 other poets

at McNalley Jacskson Bookstore in Manhattan

And wizard Keith Waldrop read poems past us all

But I hadn’t pumped in hours

And my breasts hurt so I asked

If I could pump in the employee bathroom

When I said what pump meant—from breasts— they looked at me blankly

When I tried to plug the pump into the outlet it didn’t work

The outlet the bookstore wasn’t powerful enough

There wasn’t enough power

And I felt like a baby horse shaky

And unprepared using a pump without batteries

That my boyfriend who I call my husband

But is really more of a partner carried

Around Manhattan all day except

When we were at the Museum of Art because he checked the backpack

Today I read a conceptual poem about how to kill your wife

While breastfeeding at 3am in my desk chair

Because I don’t have a rocking chair

But my desk chair is high-backed and swivels from side-to-side

And I wore one of those belted pillows

Around my waist so baby can lay his head no his ear

On the pillow and it’s soft

But supportive

Today I pumped in my office at work with no window

But with a skylight in my office which I share now

But didn’t before maternity

And the air conditioner that hangs on the wall

That isn’t really a wall

But is more like a layer of fat between me and the outside world

Or hallway wouldn’t shut off

So it was cold

But only I was cold

Because I’ve never the seen the woman I share my office with

Someone once said she has three offices

Because economy of scarcity

Because contemporary grammar made a new preposition

Where kid says why and parent says because

Today I read a conceptual poem about how to kill your wife

While breastfeeding at the back table of a sushi restaurant

With 3 friends drinking sake

I was holding my baby’s head in the crook of my elbow

But it got sweaty and he didn’t like it

While I breastfeeding under one of those covers called a breastfriend

And he didn’t like being exiled or it was too hot in the crook

Not really friendly at all

Today I pumped in the Atlanta airport women’s restroom

At the sink while ppl walked past

And I wore one of those bras for hands free pumping

Which also meant I wore a tinge of shame I knew I shouldn’t feel

The way a dairy cow must feel about seeing a carton of whole milk

Alongside a conceptual poem about how to kill your wife


Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).