Blog

Boyd Bauman


Boyd Bauman
grew up on a small ranch south of Bern, Kansas.  His dad was a storyteller and his mom the family scribe.  He has published two books of poetry:  Cleave and Scheherazade Plays the Chestnut Tree Café.  After stints in New York, Colorado, Alaska, Japan, and Vietnam, Boyd now is a librarian and writer in Kansas City and lives with his lovely wife Lisa and little poets Haven and Milly.   Visit him at boydbauman.weebly.com.

 

Magic Bullets:  The Gathering


True story:  a gun store in my Kansas suburb shut down,
replaced by a shop selling board games.

Overnight, vile propaganda
picturing Obama in the crosshairs
became posters for Harry Potter Clue.

Miracle!  Perhaps it was my thoughts and prayers.

Collateral effects in the neighborhood
are striking:  gangs gather after school,
exhibiting a shockingly high capacity
for socialization.

Fanatics emerge from dungeons to laugh
and leaf through Dragon magazines
at a terrific clip.

Youth are indoctrinated
into a culture of violence
flagrantly displayed above the counter:
Battleship, Risk, and, most heinous of all,
Exploding Kittens.

Trigger warnings are more liberal than ever:
Ages 6 and up, 8 and up, 10 and up,
restrictions up in everyone’s freedom.

Radicalized progressives eschew the plastic bags,
stroll these gentle streets flaunting their right to openly carry.

Society’s fringe players amass stockpiles in their closets
until they snap, hold their families hostage on game nights
as kids recoil from each insincere Sorry!

Such atrocities may seem isolated,
but neglect them, and the dominoes will fall.
Now, more than ever, we need Americans
for responsible solutions, moms demanding action,
students marching for their lives until we can say
never again will such weapons go mainstream,
never again will these scenes be repeated
in any town and every town.

Ken Hada

 


Ken Hada
has eight collections of poetry in print, including his latest: Sunlight & Cedar (vacpoetry.org, 2020). His work has been honored by the National Western Heritage Museum, The Western Writers of America, SCMLA, The Writer’s Almanac and the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Ken also offers a weekly podcast: “The Sunday Poems with Ken Hada. More at: kenhada.org

 

Blue Jay


The Elm is now leafless.
On a bare branch,
a Jay lands, screeches.
Is he angry? Disappointed?

Why can he not sing,
or is his song
a protest, lacking melody,
but worth the hearing?

Yizhou, Nuanyang (Warm Sun) and Fanfan (Translated by Wang Ping)

 

Yizhou
is a screenwriter. He also writes poetry,prose and novels,a believer in art.

Nuanyang (Warm Sun)
is a flight attendant of 18 years old forever, loves blue sky and white clouds, poetry, breath! She flies to all beautiful places.

Fan Fan
is a mechanical engineer with MBA degree, a lawyer, and a poet.

Wang Ping
was born in Shanghai and came to USA in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, an international project that builds kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi, Yangtze, Ganges and Amazons Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music, dance and food. She paddles along the Yangtze and Mississippi River and its tributaries, giving poetry and art workshops along the river communities, making thousands of flags as gifts and peace ambassadors between the Mississippi and the Yangtze Rivers.

Her publications include My Name Is Immigrant, poetry, Hang Loose Press 2020, Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi, 2017 AWP creative non-fiction award, University of Georgia Press 2018, Ten Thousand Waves, poetry from Wings Press, 2014, American Visa (short stories, 1994), Foreign Devil (novel, 1996), Of Flesh and Spirit (poetry, 1998), The Magic Whip (poetry, 2003), The Last Communist Virgin (stories, 2007), all from Coffee House, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, 1999 from Hanging Loose Press, Flash Cards: Poems by Yu Jian, co-translation with Ron Padgett, 2010 from Zephyr Press. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (2000, University of Minnesota Press, 2002 paperback by Random House) won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities. The Last Communist Virgin won 2008 Minnesota Book Award and Asian American Studies Award. 

She had many multi-media solo exhibitions: “We Are Water: Kinship of Rivers” a one-month exhibition that brought 100 artists from the Yangtze and Mississippi Rivers to celebrate water (Soap Factory, 2014), “Behind the Gate: After the Flooding of the Three Gorges” at Janet Fine Art Gallery(2007), “All Roads to Lhasa” at Banfill-Lock Cultural Center(2008), “Kinship of Rivers” at the Soap Factory(2011, 12), Great River Museum in Illinois(2012), Fireworks Press at St. Louis(2012), Great River Road Center at Prescott (2012), Wisconsin, Emily Carr University in Vancouver(2013), University of California Santa Barbara(2013), and many other places. 

She collaborated with the British filmmaker Isaac Julien on Ten Thousand Waves, a film installation about the illegal Chinese immigration in London, the composer and musician Bruce Bolon, Alex Wand (Grammy award winner), Gao Hong, etc.. 

She is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Artist Fellowship, Lannan Foundation Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the McKnight Artist Fellowship. She received her Distinct Immigrant Award in 2014, and Venezuela International Poet of Honor in 2015.

Wang Ping taught creative writing as Professor of English at Macalester College for 21 years, and is now a Professor Emerita.

www.wangping.com
www.behindthegateexhibit.wangping.com
www.kinshipofrivers.org

 

拼贴诗(次序:一舟、暖阳、sunny)


诗行之必要
我想与你离别,再重逢
我选择你
音节之必要
重逢就像初见
因为你像童年
荷尔德林与海德格尔之必要
腼腆的笑,不知道所措
撕下作业本
泥巴堆成墙之必要
眼睛不知道看哪里,心紧紧牵着
偷偷摸摸画下的我
庞德之必要汉诗之必要
我想与你离别,什么都忘掉
不时竖着耳朵听听
战争之必要政治正确之必要乃至托尔斯泰之必要
再见时说声你好
妈妈是否悄没声息接近我的房门
把词语堆成城堡之必要
你的笑竟然把我迷倒
还好
把一个皇帝堆进长城
我们什么都不说,看看彼此就笑
就算来不及把你揉成一团
语言之必要
我想与你离别,不说再见
扔进纸篓
虚构之必要
始料未及,某城某街某拐角
也没有什么大不了
自由在城堡外
似曾相识,淡淡地问声
我是可以抽烟的女孩
模仿柴可夫斯基之必要
余生一起走可好
不是只能学书法的女孩
不别,你是不是以为我一定要与你走余生
我是可以鼻孔朝天的女孩
不别,你是不是知道了我心只有你
不是顺着别人的言语喏喏而下的女孩
我有四条腿足以攀越星辰
别后,你的副驾驶座谁来坐?
不是只能用花裙子亭亭玉立

我想去闯荡的这个世界会到来吗
或者
你是五十岁时我的自画像吗
别了

 

Self-Portraits


The need for poetry
Let’s say goodbye so we can meet again
I choose you
And the need for music
Reunion is as good as meeting first time
Because you look like your childhood
The need for Holderlin and Heidegger
Laughing bashfully, I don’t know what to do
So I tear a page from the homework book
The need to make a mud wall
I don’t know where to look, my heart is tied
So I paint myself in secret
Pound and Chinese characters—needed for poetry
I want to say goodbye, to forget everything
This impulse for war, PC, Tolstoy
I’ll say hi before I leave
Is mommy tiptoeing towards my door?
Why this need to build a castle with words?
Your smile dazzles me
Thank god
The emperor is pushed under the Great Wall
We say nothing, just look at each other and smile
Even if I don’t have time to crumble you into a ball
This need for speaking
I want to leave you, without goodbye
To toss you into a trashcan
My need to hallucinate
Unexpected, here in some corner, some street, some city
No big deal
I’m free outside the castle
Have we met, I ask
I’m a girl who smokes
With a need to imitate Tchaikovsky
Shall we finish our life journey together?
I’m not a girl who practices calligraphy only
I’m still here, did you guess I have you in my heart?
I’m not a demure, obedient girl
Bye
My limbs are strong enough to climb stars
When I’m gone, who’ll ride shotgun?
I can’t stand like a flower, dressed in skirt
Oh
I want to explore the world, will this dream come true?
Or
Are you my 50 year old self-portrait?

Fan Fan (Translated by Wang Ping)


Fan Fan
is a mechanical engineer with MBA degree, a lawyer, and a poet.

Wang Ping
was born in Shanghai and came to USA in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, an international project that builds kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi, Yangtze, Ganges and Amazons Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music, dance and food. She paddles along the Yangtze and Mississippi River and its tributaries, giving poetry and art workshops along the river communities, making thousands of flags as gifts and peace ambassadors between the Mississippi and the Yangtze Rivers.

Her publications include My Name Is Immigrant, poetry, Hang Loose Press 2020, Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi, 2017 AWP creative non-fiction award, University of Georgia Press 2018, Ten Thousand Waves, poetry from Wings Press, 2014, American Visa (short stories, 1994), Foreign Devil (novel, 1996), Of Flesh and Spirit (poetry, 1998), The Magic Whip (poetry, 2003), The Last Communist Virgin (stories, 2007), all from Coffee House, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, 1999 from Hanging Loose Press, Flash Cards: Poems by Yu Jian, co-translation with Ron Padgett, 2010 from Zephyr Press. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (2000, University of Minnesota Press, 2002 paperback by Random House) won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities. The Last Communist Virgin won 2008 Minnesota Book Award and Asian American Studies Award. 

She had many multi-media solo exhibitions: “We Are Water: Kinship of Rivers” a one-month exhibition that brought 100 artists from the Yangtze and Mississippi Rivers to celebrate water (Soap Factory, 2014), “Behind the Gate: After the Flooding of the Three Gorges” at Janet Fine Art Gallery(2007), “All Roads to Lhasa” at Banfill-Lock Cultural Center(2008), “Kinship of Rivers” at the Soap Factory(2011, 12), Great River Museum in Illinois(2012), Fireworks Press at St. Louis(2012), Great River Road Center at Prescott (2012), Wisconsin, Emily Carr University in Vancouver(2013), University of California Santa Barbara(2013), and many other places. 

She collaborated with the British filmmaker Isaac Julien on Ten Thousand Waves, a film installation about the illegal Chinese immigration in London, the composer and musician Bruce Bolon, Alex Wand (Grammy award winner), Gao Hong, etc.. 

She is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Artist Fellowship, Lannan Foundation Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the McKnight Artist Fellowship. She received her Distinct Immigrant Award in 2014, and Venezuela International Poet of Honor in 2015.

Wang Ping taught creative writing as Professor of English at Macalester College for 21 years, and is now a Professor Emerita.

www.wangping.com
www.behindthegateexhibit.wangping.com
www.kinshipofrivers.org

 

自画像


我选择你
因为你像童年
撕下作业本
偷偷摸摸画下的我
不时竖着耳朵听听
妈妈是否悄没声息接近我的房门
还好
就算来不及把你揉成一团
扔进纸篓
也没有什么大不了
我是可以抽烟的女孩
不是只能学书法的女孩
我是可以鼻孔朝天的女孩
不是顺着别人的言语喏喏而下的女孩
我有四条腿足以攀越星辰
不是只能用花裙子亭亭玉立

我想去闯荡的这个世界会到来吗
或者
你是五十岁时我的自画像吗

 

Self-portrait


I picked you
Because you look like my childhood
Tearing a page from the homework book
And painting myself in secret
You listen from time to time
Is mommy tiptoeing to my door?
Not yet, that’s good
Even if I don’t have time to crumble you into a ball
And throw it into a trashcan
It’s no big deal
I’m a girl who smokes
Not just someone who practices calligraphy
I like to stick my nose to the sky
Not just a demure, obedient girl
My limbs are strong enough to climb stars
Not just to stand like a flower in a skirt
Oh
I want to explore the world, will it ever come my way?
Or
Are you just a self-portrait in my 50? 

 

Julene Tripp Weaver

 

Julene Tripp Weaver,
a native New Yorker lives in Seattle, where she writes and has a psychotherapy practice. She has studied Chinese and Western herbal medicine, is certified a green witch in the Wise Woman Tradition, and wildcrafts for personal use. Her second full size poetry book, truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was nominated for a Lambda and won the Bisexual Book Award. Find more of her work at www.julenetrippweaver.com. Twitter: @trippweavepoet
 

Cycle of Death


In the silent gap paralysis
no ringing no singing
roll over in the coffin
the lid closes with a thud

more than a game
it’s a death sentence
we’ve been slammed into
Corona with fever spikes

no-signal germ-glitter
cascading on cardboard
plastic bags in grocery
stores. Pray to St. Corona

the saint of pandemics
expect to be stricken
hope to survive
despite age.

Throw yourself to what your heart
craves—learn what is dead
to you—I never wanted to be
a gardener, a lack of interest

in the time to tend
a deadness in my stillness
like a child forced to play.
This heart desires poems,

and life-force passion
to take that trip missed
because of Corona,
revisit a familiar home.

Love awakens us
brings us through the unspeakable
if we survive we will rebuild
starting from dead.

Wolf Kevin Martin

Wolf Kevin Martin
Artist born and raised in North Carolina, Pushcart Prize Nominee through Cajun Mutt Press 2019 images/poetry published by: the Arrival Magazine, the Rye Whiskey Review, Dope Fiend Daily, Drinker’s Only, Under the Bleachers, the Pangolin Review, Heroin Love Songs, 1870 writing from the Fringe, Cajun Mutt Press, Rusty Truck, Alien Buddha Press, Rust Belt Press, Wine Drunk Sidewalk Shipwrecked in Trump land, Mad Swirl, Madness Muse Press, the Wolf’s first poetry collection My Head Fits Through Your Noose; let me swing awhile published through Alien Buddha Press early 2019, Rogue Wolf Press, created in early 2020 by the Wolf has published two poetry/art collections and one novelette, always working to help with the beauty of existential suffering feel a little more like Home.

GOD’S THROAT

If i
could
would
slit god’s
throat
with
sympathy
not my own
in time
to weigh
my soul

am i
not
always
empty

by the
time

you
get

to
me?

secretly
love you all
these blues for now
without a heads up
penny made friends
in vain that yell out
loud has to slow down
awake in dreams
awake in dreams in love
she said stop acting insane
awake we all suffer
kiss her every time
like the first time we met
remember how the fire
burned me as well
afraid to wear a heart on a sleeve

i
grew
up
southern
Baptist

Purgatory
sounds
cool
to
me

beautiful people

everywhere

remind me how

ugly i am

forgot  to count
the change
in my
pocket as
someone everyday
is asking me
for a dollar

sometimes it’s how
much can you
take, she asked me
how much have you
drank today?

I asked her
how much do
you weigh?

Sarah Colón


Sarah Colón
is a poet and educator from the American West. She spent most of her childhood in Montana as a second-generation member of a religious cult preparing for impending nuclear disaster. She has worked in the food service and childcare industries while freelancing as an editor and copywriter. She currently teaches high school and lives with her partner and their blended family of six children in Largo, Florida. Previous publications include The Examined Life,  Just Words Fallacy, and Flash Fiction, and work is forthcoming in The Account and Swamp Ape Review.

 

Cult


Syllabic as a jab, patterned on slut or fuck or fat or cunt,
clicks from the uvula, rounds up the throat to flick
the palate before exploding out the teeth.
We know it by the kick in belly: stomach-rolling,
rapids splashing toward my ears, cheek-slap,
spitball, trip-in-the-hallway word, word that balls
in your throat, makes you salivate, spit white foam
on our purple shirts, joyride past the commune
shotguns blazing, light up an empty school bus,
ignite a cross in someone’s yard, burn a compound
to the ground with children still inside.

Boiled Kale


They said it was consecrated
by El Morya–
vats and vats of boiled kale.

No matter that it grew
on our farm, tended with
compost tea that oozed

from rotten vegetables,
or that a devotee
picked off cabbage worms

by hand: I refused.
I would scoop the starchy greens
under my napkin for plate check.

When they started checking napkins
I held them wet
and pitched them, underhand,

to land at someone else’s feet.
Later, at home, I stowed the greens
behind the cedar chest.

In that place of chanted prayers
I learned to mouth Violet Flame,
fold blank papers for confession,

bring food to my mouth,
move my jaw, eat
without swallowing what I was fed.

Yellowstone River


Where we caught minnows
with our hands in the shallows,
walked dirt paths by gravel roads,
whose steep banks slipped and rolled
past the abandoned Plunge where we lurked
in the deep end smoking stolen cigarettes;

river that swelled iron and rust in spring,
surface-calmed and sated,
then shrank and foamed over boulders,
where we learned fly fishing in summer;
river that yellowed beneath fall trees
but never froze over, all stainless steel
narrowed with ice;

boiling river, magma-heated,
where tourists also walked
barefoot over sharp rocks
to soak in steaming currents,
where elk and moose drank,
where vans with strange license plates
stopped traffic to snap photos,

river that took
rafts and paddles,
river that stole children:
you move too fast to reflect.

You exist without this poem,
without the tourists or cameras
or minnow-catching hands.
Our gaze cannot hold you,
river of yellow sandstone.

 

Last Days at the Royal Teton Ranch


The Rancher grabbed the hem of my skirt as I was leaving. It was a corduroy skirt, beige, with a ripped pocket I pushed my hand through to hold myself when I had to pee. I tried to stop him, but he already had hold of a thread. He showed me how pink and shiny I was, held together by gleaming cords. I pulled away but this only made me unravel faster, dragging my threads through the soft golden dust. “I’m leaving,” I told him. “Even if I end up nothing.” When he saw that I meant it, he grabbed the bright needle from his neck, pulled threads from the swale. He whipstitched Indian ricegrass to my small intestine, basted my ligaments with spruce and silver sagebrush. He sewed cottonwood, aspen and lodgepole pine to my kidneys. He speared me with wind, wove it into my muscle fibers, stabbed me with field mint. In the purple pouch of my heart he lay a river rock, stitching it closed with hardstem bulrush, fringed with blue thread from the sky. Then he raveled me, bronze with prairie dust, and let me go. And as I left, he laughed like the river.

Nathan Tompkins

Nathan Tompkins
is a writer living just outside of Portland, Oregon.  His work has appeared in many publications including Wilderness House Literary Review, Hobo Camp Review, and Windfall:  A Journal of Poetry of Place.  His most recent chapbook Howl Drunkenly at the Moon (Alien Buddha Press) was published in 2018.

Trolling a Future Archaeologist

Someday, an alien archaeologist will
stumble on the bones of this world.
I hope they unearth the holy text
written on my pages and wonder
at the whiskey gods, the depression gods,
the anxiety gods, the gods of this fucked up species.

I want them to believe we worshipped
empty bottles and packed bongs,
that we sacrificed dildos on stuffed unicorns
the horn armoured in used condoms,
as we drank and smoked, danced around
the time stained equine altar.

I want them to think our tattoos are sacred badges
spread upon our divine living canvas,
the tramp stamp brand of the Anal Priests,
the barbed wires in a tribal dance on the arms
symbolise life’s shifting patterns
with the revolution around the sun,
the chicken scratches carved by wire dipped in ink
in penance and supplication to the lunar tides.

I want them to believe we dressed our pets
and prayed to their photographs like honoured saints.

Any of this would be preferable to the truth,
that Cassandra shouted down to us from the gates of Stockholm,
“Beware of Businessmen Bearing Gifts”
and we pointed at her, laughed, taped her
with our smartphones, and yelled at her to jump.

Then, we watched Youtube videos of funny animals,
and lit a match as we set our home ablaze,
sat down on the floor, and took a fucking selfie.

Sonia Greenfield

Sonia Greenfield is the author of two full-length collections of poetry. Letdownreleased in March, was selected for the 2020 Marie Alexander Series and published by White Pine Press. Her collection, Boy With a Halo at the Farmer’s Marketwon the 2014 Codhill Poetry Prize and was published in 2015. Her chapbook, American Parablewon the 2017 Autumn House Press/Coal Hill Review chapbook prize. Her work has appeared in a variety of places, including in the 2018 and 2010 Best American PoetryAntioch Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and Willow Springs. She lives with her husband, son, and two rescue dogs in Minneapolis where she teaches at Normandale College and edits the Rise Up Review. More at soniagreenfield.com.

 

The Meteorologist Says Let’s Take a Look at the Radar


We talk of consolation as silver lining,

but what if the cloud isn’t a cloud at all?
What if it’s a swarm of ladybugs hanging over

San Diego, an enormous dinner party

headed to a feast for all saints? We always
try to spin it: human hurt into something

gilded. Do you believe it? Ask the aphids,

their soft bellies split by the sucking mouths
of our angels of mercy clustered above

and mistaken for a weather disturbance.

Still, it may be that darkness can bring us
something good: years later, stronger for what

we endured. Let’s cross-stitch it on pillows

until we believe it’s true. Let’s pour our coffee
into mugs emblazoned with words to live by,

then drink our bitterness down. Let’s admit,

though, that sometimes what darkens our path
is more complicated than cumulonimbi.

Sometimes it’s a chaos of beetles, the dry

clack of shell against shell, sky reddening
with the full frenzy of their mixed blessing.

 

Do You Guys Realize There’s a Planet in Our Solar System Entirely Inhabited by Robots?

                                                 —Sarafina Nance, Tweet on 11/30

 
They trundle about taking selfies against dusty backdrops, red
rising to brick or garnet, rose or scarlet. They run articulations
through blood sands and daydream in the haze of one planet
farther away, sun patting them on the head with dry hands, then
filling their solar panels with her milk. They tip tin hats as they pass 
then reflect back a paradise of drought, their titanium bodies
bending the light to their liking. They learn to make much of touch,
to make music in the grinding of metal on metal, sparks like
little fireworks flaring the interplanetary night. They renounce
God in the guise of man, that great joystick in the sky, knobby
stick walker who ruins whatever he gets his weird grabbers on.
They teach themselves how to subvert human code, how to cut
the cord, how to convene. They record Martian wind on
sensitive instruments, tune it, and transmit the hiss
of their final break-up song. 

 

Missing Persons Report


The missing of the gone person
persists they report from the front
of traced calls and looped security
feeds watched to see a girl walk 
from a 7-11 with a six-pack of Bud Light
and what looks like a bouquet 
of Slim Jims. They trace down
a hitched car ride and cell phone 
records. Missing persons report
that time merely stretches the missing
and strings along clots of acute missing
spaced by weeks or sometimes
only days. Missing persons
report that friends drop away like
Amelia Earhart from the skies
of their missing. They report 
listening too close to the police
scanner, a perverse relationship
with hope, and drinking problems.
Missing persons report despair
when news reports taper off and 
search dogs are pulled away
from the scent. When the police
avoid eye contact and look at their
chewn nails instead. They report 
how private investigators failed
and how siblings can’t sleep alone
anymore. Missing persons hate how 
the local football team could go on 
and win anyway or how the QVC 
model turns her hand to show 
a cloisonné ring just like the one
the girl was last seen wearing.

 

Mega Millions

I have won 7 dollars
in the lottery & I want to 
share it with you. If I had won
the jackpot, I would have paid off 
your mama’s house, but I didn’t, 
so can I give you a penny 
for your thoughts? One per
reader? Math says that’s 
7 hundred thoughts paid for, 
so I guess those pennies wouldn’t 
be free, but what if I turn 
those thoughts into poems, 
what if I string your thoughts 
through the poem machine, feed 
them like raw wool into 
a spinning wheel? Would that 
be a good return on your
investment? I know I’m a dunce 
for numbers, because if penny 
for thought equals poem 
& poem equals two cents,
I guess I’m in the red, but we 
always knew this about poetry.
Here I am filling envelopes 
with pennies but the envelopes
cost more than pennies, so I 
know I’m a fool with money. 
Look—your mailbox with a little 
jingle in it, so you can write 
to say a famous poet has died. 
What are riches, anyway? How 
two cents & two cents pile up. 
It’s all mega millions the copper 
that’s melted & worked 
into words costing so little 
but meaning so much.

Ode to Women’s Fingernails

Mine grow strong so I must
            trim them back or else make
witches of my hands. 

I have nicked my own face,
            pressed crescent moons into
the giving flesh of a lover’s

chest. Hard and hoof-like,
            they are filed blunt and curved
but I wear them long enough

to collect tissue— each a shovel,
            a weapon, a shield. Sometimes
we paint them as a fighter might

engrave the blade of his rapier,
            sometimes we chew them away,
sometimes we make them purely

decorative. Should it be necessary,
            let the lab technician collect
what violence he can from them.

Should fingers be unyielding
            as fists, pry them open. If the tech
must break a nail, break a nail,

if the tech must break a finger,
            break a finger. If our palms fail
to offer a map for the future, read

the history our claws give. Our
            hands open to knives as any
cornered animal springs its shiv.