Tag Archives: animals

one from spring break

Over break I had a dream about foxes and I have a friend who decided their spirit animal from a dream they had about goats, so I’m thinking maybe my spirit animal is a fox? What was my fox-dream trying to tell me?

Then I ended up on a weird part of the internet taking spirit animal quizzes and learning about spirituality, tarot and mysticism. I also found a cute little comic about animals going through existential crises.

I thought about how these things are tied up in how people structure their own self-perceptions and identities, how the use of such symbology creates a certain declaration about who they are and why from an external source, when such an exercise is a very private and sacred internal contemplation that can’t ever be fully captured from the outside.

Anyways, I used my friend as a VERY CRUMBLY FOUNDATION and then EMBELLISHED AND EMBELLISHED THE SHIT OUT OF HER. So, to my friend, if you read this, please please please don’t hate this. You were merely a tool in my own literary exercise, a way to distance my self from this self that I wanted to figuratively examine. Hopefully this contemplation is a token of gratitude for the inspiration?

The Mystic

She had a totem dream—goat
spirit raced to her from the rockiest
peak, consuming everything. She opened

the tarot door, rode her Bianchi down a concrete
creek—-black crossbars and aluminum rims.
Her cards spilled art deco on my carpet:

indigo damask and maroon arabesque, the twist
of horn-bones and hollyhock ghosting desert sky,
the roll of rocky courses down a mountain spine—

Pay attention to the pentacles, she said, the whole
fucking spectrum of experience.
Chakra lines
bloomed blue, the refract of her veins at the wrist—

come up from your hollow, she said
to the surface where we wait for you.
I couldn’t ladder her Dao chiasmus

braiding down the page. She drew
a ram-skull on her scapula, got a head
of garlic tattooed to her ribs. I’m trying

to take care of myself. She rode home
alone to her new apartment, everything still
packed except some speakers and an album

of jangly dream-pop on fuzzy repeat,
basked in a beam of pastel violet, the bounce-
back of Capricorn caught in her curtain.


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i think of the birds i sight as omen work

whenever i see crows, i think trouble.
whenever i see larks, jays, robins, i think joy.
sparrows signify suspension.
so when scott and i drove through the migration site of the sandhill cranes before we won our respective races, i knew we were going to be successful. here’s the series of fragments i developed for class as a result, with edits.

Migration Land

Useless panorama
punched down deadpack
of February defrost brown

but not brown more gray
cut with divining lines
season cycle luster-fade

harvest chaff and husk
below quieting conversation
retreating cloudshores

reflected in the hot shine
coffee melting
paperboard walls

swampland on endless loop
against the glass undulating

sunrise breath steams
detritus tule-rush
whisked hoary ribbons

before the dashboard
a continent opens worried wing
banded white feather bustle

brushing sedged ditches
born there now fleeing
on the exhale crests

arrowed call roofed by red cap
crane-skull nestled easy
the sling of a muscled neck

silvered and hollow resonating
asking and answering minor notes
chasm blush between clean

horizon and the overcast
red tones woven over asphalt-waver
warming rubber treads.

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villainous villanelles

this week’s prompt: write any form derived from your scanning of a poetry dictionary.
i like the word villanelle. it’s so pretty. so i decided to write one.
they’re hard. like, mad props to dylan thomas. but i also really enjoy the challenge of pulling off something in a form. or at least attempting it. meh. i don’t like it because it seemed a little stilted and stuff (but doesn’t all rhyming and repetitive stuff seem like that anymore? maybe that’s just me), but we’ll see how it fares in workshop.

A Villanelle

My father called out in the cardinal’s notes,
two chirping whistles: you me, you me.
The cardinal quiets, keeps his voice safe in oak.

Cardinals blot red against white winter snow,
voices wound tight in the shell of their beaks.
My father called out in the cardinal’s notes.

Drifts leaned too heavy for the wind to blow,
too strong and silent for my father to heave.
Watching, the cardinal kept his voice safe in oak.

Collapsed in a snowbank of icy overgrowth,
he read the raucous beat of freezing wings
fleeing his curious call in cardinal notes.

Stigmata slicing the silence of a frost-shocked grove
those scarbright bodiess, crested hearts that pulse and seize—
the cardinal keeps his voice safe in oak.

The treeline bleeds my father’s trilled echoes,
he trudged indoors to teach the cherry lovetone to me —
my father called out in the cardinal’s notes,
but the cardinal kept his voice safe in oak.

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i wrote this after watching river monsters.

Jeremy Wade is a god. And a master story-teller. So he told this story of electric eels killing some cowboys when they feel in a river, I was enticed to look them up. Here’s what they inspired.


On Orinoco river bottoms
or stagnant Amazon waters—
in the dark, in the black
mud, saliva-slick,
they doze, cutlass bodies,
stillwater drones
with pock-punched muzzles
and humming hulls
like bright citrus—
a buzz of low-volt
a thick black ribbon
of muscle, a ripple
in the murk—
their bodies rope
over a threshing flank
churning in the slip-stream,
battery-bullet cells
punching, punching,
punching each charge
into an embrace,
and the shock
does not kill, only
stuns, suffocates
the victims as they drown,
as they fold into the electric
clamp of knife-fish bodies
that caress, searching
the numb body twitching
in its neural collapse.

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a half-complete piece and a little reflection

I like using poetry as a means to enter another culture. When I say that, I mean most of my poetic prompting comes from learning something new. I fire up wikipedia and troll through various articles until things start clicking for me. A teacher once told me a poet could never be bored with life, and thanks to wikipedia, I agree. Life is poetry.
So I wanted to learn more about Russian folk tales. And they are wicked cool. You can read what I wrote to kinda catch some references, but the point here is to be more curious, to find a point of entry into something new. That’s kind of what poetry does for me, I think.

The Firebird

I am at the end of the tunnel: burning light,
boiling sun. Each shining feather-shaft sharpens
to a point, a premonition of your path. Covet,
then curse me, my gilded frame and pearlescent
beak pouring songs over the blooming steppes
and drawing you onto your quest. Ensnare me
in a crystalline cage and carry me on the silvered
backs of wolves back to Siberian gardens
and pale, perfect brides. I will rob you
of your dreams as I robbed the king of his
golden apples and his tsarinas, maidens sent
forth on platinum horses to Ottoman kings.
With my ember-red crest flared and flame-tail
trailing, I will rise, and all mouths will chant
krasny, krasny. My wings and breast unfurl
in amber kokhloma patterns for which you reach,
plumes falling around you like fading tongues
of fire that settle, spark and gutter out.

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we can all be buffalo.

I love how my work over this past semester reflects the change in seasons. So here’s one for the shift into winter. No class prompts, no (real) research save for the “Buffalo Jones” theme song and Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans album and a clove cigarette to help me think.

A Buffalo’s Prayer

My Great Mother, I open my self to you, to every
rustling soul stirring in the tall grass that is you.
I am preparing every part for you, every stiff-
legged step into the cold, every silent white
star that prickles in the burnt sky, every turning
chord hidden beneath the sleeping prairie sod.
Will I be invited into the sound?

I am still. I know my sign. The winter is
an angry animal blowing these bracken stalks
into shapes shuddering and strange, and I am
grateful, so grateful to turn my face into its winds.
I will not lie awake in this dark and weep
for my sins. I will embrace every broken
enchanted thing, every circling wing of grief,
every umber-stroked thread of clay beneath me.
How much longer before I join the dirt?

You are heavy on my hulking back, but
not impossible to bear. You are every throb
in my solid heart, wet and visceral and real.
You are every huffing steam of breath
wavering in my nostrils, sharp and scented
with firewood and frost. You are the changing
tears of rain and brush wandering my plains,
painful, pulling, and I am everything in you,
ever-roaming, ever-rising, like the secrets
in these carpets of snow that frost, then wither
with the gasp of another golden dawn.

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Praise poems were the prompt this week. I’m really happy with this one…maybe because it’s so upbeat? It’s also subject matter for which I will always sing my praises…frogs.


Blessed be the Indian summer, the frost forgotten
for one last bloom of feverish fall air. Blessed

be the choked and shuffled refuse scattered on these
boggy banks, bleached of their greenery for acidic

yellows and cider browns. In this swill of summered
fall, blessed be the pop and patter, the evening crescendo

of love tuning and turning in amphibious throats
like the squeaky spiraling of a screw in wood,

like the keening jingle of olive-drab, gelatin bells
that breathe and shift with the ephemeral shores

of the sunset-stained marsh. Blessed be that writhing
of notes in those bugle-cheeks, whose chimes earn

names worthy of their songs: pinkletinks, tinkletoes,
pinkwinks. But beneath the mud-slicks lies bladed

the promise of a winter that presses peeper-husks
under barks and briars, frozen, but only just,

as life taps the softest touch into lycra peeper-hides.
Blessed be those cruciform patterns on lily-backs, the mark

of seasons crashing into themselves: dancing
leaves and shivering buds set to a sporadic semaphore,

a tentative chirrup I chase with muddied palms,
both asking and answering: Yes…Yes?

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