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Kirsty Singer



worry is something that happens in the mouth

or with the fingers

it is a physiological function

balancing between brain and thumb

a smooth stone skipping


when I missed her I thought of her lip twisted

the fur of it hovering

drawing ripples across the lakeskin

I sat in the window seat

and drank the winter spice tea blend

now lost to me     I guess

market research took that sadness away


I guess she was at home in the tropics

I thought of her that way

I wanted to stay on the ski lift

and listen to the whale song

and the other songs over and over

she was home in the lodge

on the white bed recovering

we drove to the emergency room

I held her hand the whole time

it relaxed and stiffened

that is how I knew what it was

when it happened again

I had been reading her a story

from Little Birds

there may have been birds in the story

or just one large exotic parrot

she said slept with her in Nicaragua

there were girls on the bed

and a father     his body

made a tent with the sheet

I think it was a white sheet

I stopped reading


that night clenched

her whole body

strength     I pried

the terrible smile

but her mouth would not open

another room

his wolf presence lurching

there were nights

my whole body shook

behind her

the thick white down comforter

there were too many covers

and the silence

was too heavy

it submerged her

she was vacuuming

another room

how can nothing

make such a loud sound?

when I touched her

it was not a human face

the horror

that everything is framed

the way they are all muddled

and now you are a part of them




now you text me a lake

and there is a lake!

there is a whole lake country

I was in that place

when the turtles came lapping

the very ancient turtles

to the edge of the water

as if magnetism drew them

to my body feet facing the water

it was there that I first became

acquainted with “terrorduck”

you named him years later

I was studying chemistry and botany

I wanted to name things

to understand their structures

I needed to find a new vocabulary

so I went swimming


you were in that lake

you were some kind of monster

my proper home speaks of

is it true? I have been seeking you

for years watching the same classic series

and the discovery channel

now that you are real what are you?

in the movie you are a different man

you return to your great estate too early

and contemplate swimming

you are caught like that

some large beast dripping

without ascot or vest - it is terrible!

the way the shirt just opens

like a bird’s face

there is a tongue in there

it is stony and blue


there is a law of the tongue

an interspecies arrangement

it is unforgiving

impatient     you are punished

with a toothache

did I dream this? war of the worlds

No     it is called Killers of Eden

“and darkness was upon the face”

you want to be on the side

of the killer whales and crows

what if the all the water dries up?


now the whale’s tongue is a succulent

they make a milk-colored drink from it

they call it pulque we drink it

from little goats and flower pots and cannons

with 400 rabbits

in another version of the legend

a raccoon used its human hands to dig for it

it was the first drunk

it set the course of the rivers

you are sailing on the sound

it is also a body of water

and I think of the hot streak of sun

in your mouth     there are crows

moving together oh god

they are spreading apart 




Coastal Scrub


you asked for a story about sage

I passed a bundle burning

soft chaparral

the real air setting off

is that the smoke alarm?

or just your ears ringing

maybe it actually happened

that my ears burst

it may be my first real memory

now I listen with eyes

to the torture house of language

“don’t be sad” is all I could manage

to speak into the dumb Real today

but I baked you sea biscuits


now there is a horse in the story

with a jockey named Woolf

he won the race in my hometown

with “a Pavlovian burst of speed”

a symbol of hope for the Great Depression

I don’t think they should name people

things like “Hope” or “Faith”

(in my dream “Faith” had dyed red hair)

better save it for - no, not even horses

I can vote on a longshot named Seabiscuit

and still look at myself in the morning

foraging your body with eyes

touching my face

if I were a raccoon

I’d be a complete narcissist

but a sign in the park wants us

“to pull the wool over a wolf”

what happens when you mate

two worn out metaphors?

is the deception inside

or outside the animal?

Zizek the man is a hedgehog with ticks

does that answer your question?


breaking parts off plants

the scent of them

I made you a fragrant ghillie suit. take it

for when you wake up sweating

in your new house in the desert

and say “this camo I’m wearing isn’t camo enough!

I want to really look like a bush.”

I want to really take you to the beach

in our new photo-

synthetic skins

so we can finally understand

what to do with the sun


there are urchins

at the beach they are eaten

by wolf eels they are named

after hedgehogs

there’s an underwater counterpart to everything


I will build you a raft

put your body on it put the raft in the water

then I will really have a sage story

and I will wave my flat green parts or maybe

I will wade out and discover my density

then I will make you the most beautiful passage about swimming

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