Using This as a Mirror

Don’t let the thread of my life fall into

your stagnant pool, your urinal, your pile of

scraps and rinds. Vines may circle my face and

my petals fade, but my pick still hits

the strings, my hand a cloud along

the power lines of your empty skyline. How

the raven became black, how a whale

fell in love with a cloud so that rain became

their contact. Sunbeams dropped as fishing lines

catching previously untasted fish. A

new attitude arrives from my future self.

Your silhouette visible on the prow of

a departing tanker. My wrists and beak

bound. The bandage or blindfold slips

below my eyes. My tongue a candle lit at

both ends. My heart resisting cremation. Bruises

along my body are mistaken for orifices,

and suitors, magnificently aroused, circle

me. A radius like a labyrinth. A hawk-

faced child holding a balloon at the zoo.

Reading about the cawing of a crow while

a crow caws. What book should I pick up

next? At what point did you absent yourselves

from our world’s affairs. In that absence

I attempt meaning. Won’t Christ lay

down beside me as the corpse of a fox

decaying in time-lapse. Weeks pass by

in blink of eye. My attempts to hold these shapes

are like that fox, its maggots and gases

holding up for a couple days its foxlike form.

By multiplying, their house, like

the church, collapses. Lay down beside me.

A diva in sequined apron. I became

a map.

Moving Forward without Any Guard

Civilization swapping. Habitat shuffling. A

snail falls in love with a tape dispenser. The eye

placed on the altar in a cave. A thread along every

sightline weaves a bright wearable cloth embroidered

with flowers and birds, everything previously

examined. Trees reflecting each other, and in

a clearing, an animal hitched to a log. Then a silver

tray of surgical instruments. You modify places on

your body that injured other living things, and deerskin

emerges from beneath your own, a long slender

beak growing out your nose like the scalpel you turn

on yourself. Pharmacy frequenter. Letting down

my hair to be pulled in by the river. A century

of tongues lapping at my naked body. Forgetful

of decorum, kissing the cloth that covered for

months your remains. Smearing

my chest with your ashes then walking into

the pyre.

My Darkening Eyes Saw Only Too Well

One sees themselves in myself, their markings

though not on my hide, their eye color though

not in my eyes, pupa developing in a husk

under imitative eyes, the owl eyes of Christ,

the cheetah eyes of his favorite, teeth sinking

in, my handwriting morphing to different

centuries’ styles while I’m giggling like a small fox,

bud-swelling, noncompliant from

the start, starting again toward self-

compliance, rare with bushy tail and scales, in

other words I’m a whale, lushly associative in

rhyming sound and image, or was that only

associative lushness, a forested town built

from animal calls, cells, smearing appearance,

become poet, a sex symbol visiting our classroom,

an elephant-headed patient, planet deprived of

visitors, I demand my imagination change my

nature, my heart rate in the becoming poet


Twig and Branch Will Join as They Grow

under protection of Eros, my pen of

sentient blood dismembering men before I

become them (again), waiting for the right

invader, my lips are petals opening in cloud

cover, let me kiss you with the moths

fluttering around your bare bulb, among the death pack,

I rip open my satchel and the tesserae I

intended to decorate myself with spill onto mossy

ground, pinching me for ripeness, the eyes and

mouth of a faceless stranger, sparking flowers

burn in my entrails, let this be

my history now, the beak on my face, a bee

in blossoms, getting back my ID from the narrow

metal box before leaving, you’re only putting me in

cuffs to reach your quota, I’ll reinvent

myself with a vengeance, I should have grabbed

another, there’s a mask beneath my face

Evan Kennedy is a poet living in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Metamorphoses (City Lights, 2023).