Three Poems

Self-Portrait as Mutant We fear the fidgeting of GMOs, spider DNA in the corn, crab DNA in the goat milk. One by one our genes are ticking off and on, dazzling broken Christmas lights, deciding: green eyes for this baby, an extra rib for that one. Magic powers, a maybe. Born with mutations you might not see,…

Flaming fiddles, it looks like there’s a roadblock here! If you’d like to finish reading this piece, please buy a subscription—you’ll get access to the entire online archive of F(r)iction.

Three Poems

Our Honeymoon

was a strand of scenic overlooks. 
I first wrote strange
       —a strange of scenic overlooks—
my mistake, and strange enough 
was everything bathed in the red 
Mars dust of Sedona,
the iron in the rocks aligned 
with iron in our blood,
they say, so it tugs on us.
It tugged. Every night
on Airport Mesa, a crowd gathered 
and the Milky Way made a white mess 
of the sky. Was I the only one
who’d wanted to polish it
black again? Our honeymoon
was a scene of stranded overlooks.
We posed for panoramic
photographs minus the photographs. 
Behind us the canyon was banded 
red, copper, purple
       —millions of years
of compressed sunsets—
where the river had gnawed 
down to bone, down
to its strange, scenic marrow.

Indiana Boys

The soybean fields flooded and froze over,
and the boys—not yet their father’s sons, not yet
worrying about crop stubble beneath the ice— 
skate, twilight settling in their hair,
until their mother, watching at the window, 
calls them in for supper. When it’s dark
they’ll sit elbow-to-elbow at the worn farm table 
each son will want when she’s gone,
ringing spoons against the sides of bowls,
that silver-on-ceramic note. But now they glide
across the ice, not yet worrying about surfaces 
that barely hold them, and there is nothing
between them and their mother but the clear
syrup of old glass. It moves so slowly, no one sees.

The Parable of the Bear

Beloveds, I keep picturing it
this way: we’re standing, all of us,
between the Bear and every creature 
the Bear calls prey, and half of us
step aside. Half of us aren’t enough
to hold the Bear. It lumbers,
then, in a blur of claws and mange, 
charges through. What did you think
would happen? The Bear would lose 
its appetite? The Bear might be tamed
with a tiny bicycle, a propeller hat,
a gold sphere to balance on its nose?
I don’t need to describe what happens 
next: the smell of blood, the surprise
of white femur. Ones I have called 
beloved, I keep picturing you
this way: sitting off to one side, 
watching the Bear work, waiting to see
if it leaves any meat on the bones.


Pearl Dagnall doesn’t need somebody to love, and she’d tell you—if she ever talked to people offline—but interfacing is a problem for her. She has a limited tolerance for people in general, which is why she telecommutes. She has zero interest in romance with any of Facebook’s fabulous fifty-eight genders, and that’s the tip of the…

Flaming fiddles, it looks like there’s a roadblock here! If you’d like to finish reading this piece, please buy a subscription—you’ll get access to the entire online archive of F(r)iction.

Three Poems


parable of the 
                                        accretion of labor, 
                                        queen at the height
of her powers, 
pulse of the
                                        hive audible, warm 
                                        aura of affirmation.
waterfowl, birdcall,
houses sleep
                                        as ravens gather 
to weave
                                        with sky.
believers scatter
                                        witness to
                                        plundered flesh.
bones in the earth
                                        sun bathes
                                        the surface
of water
in light.
                                        lagoon, a cradle:
                                        water lilies poise
for painting—
the illusion of stasis
                                        where life sings:
                                        the resurrection
and the light.
hillside in
                                        shadow. roots
                                        gather energy,
a poplar's nimbus
                                        buds sparse
                                        but insistent
in early spring.
herons clamor
                                        over the late.
                                        a pilgrim's
new continent:
ocean of waving
                                        the weight
of vast spaces,
                                        the western
fires, sky ablaze
with the desire
                                        of destruction,
ashes to ashes)
how we saved
                                        what we could,
                                        nothing more.


a sudden implosion and then nothing 
but tunnels covered in bone dust
a hawk with a human grin looks down 
as I pick up coins I’d buried in childhood
they smell of oak/smoke/pumpkin seed/
my mother’s hands showed how much she worried
the form of her fears a tiny beast: black and shiny/ 
tops of wheat wave as the wind shifts clouds
and the moon comes out prematurely/ 
the dying sun is a month’s worth of blood
smoothed on canvas/hillside in shadow/black stamens 
alert, petals a yellow warmth/birdcall blooms—
waves of sound—a refrain evoking prayer/earth an edifice— 
its backbone a witness—a barnful of solitude/your unholy
absence an artifact/we could not save us/gather the sea 
faithful angels, the yellow stars/it is time I become who I am

Once Upon A Time

We ate rabbit for dinner.
This story saddened me most of all.
Cynthia the psychic asks: How have you gotten this far with one oar?
Old Miss Tilford pulled books out of a battered, upholstery bag like a good witch.
Any story would do.
In school I believed a thin, gruel-like self propped up by the alphabet.
I stopped responding to my name.
They thought I could not hear them but I could.
You are one of the watched ones, she adds.
I became my mother’s story, unable to respond to myself as she could not respond to me.
Valium’s lovely blue notes became my lullaby.
Cynthia in her ballet slippers dances in the airy loft between readings.
Halifax is full of parables of drowning.
When there I spoke in a language heard only by the dead, found words in an old can by a
chips wagon and began again, my past as loud as silence in a Bergman movie.
The tale of recovery does not end.
My life remains narrowed by what I can’t accept.
So much depends on who does the telling.
I dream spring, a long life, fear I will be loved.
Who is
watching who
deserves to be