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Seven Poems from Viewers at Home
Easter Eggs

If our world is a simulation
made by a higher order of

being, what did they embed
for their own entertainment?

Sinkholes, axolotls, dreams,
that Turkey is Peru in Portuguese. 

Sometimes there’s a secret room—
my daughter is one, I think. 

She is infinitely regressive. 
Every night she says I love 

you even more until 
I stop saying it back. 

The idea that we 
are not our own 

is as old as words 
allow us to think it. 

Pixelated light on
the river at night

must be the makers’
bad anachronism.


Theory of Anything 

They found a burning
bush in an acceptable

desert, only it’s not 
a tree but a cave that 

glows when the sun 
is low. Your eyes do

conceive you, delivered
people—we are chained 

down in the mouth, 
inside-out flames

just as promised, a land 
is made in our likeness.
A man has stars in his
knees and oxen hitched

to the earth’s axis, which 
is how we turn—where

there’s an axis 
there’s an origin

of zero coordinates, but
not the same as nothing.

Geometry is wanting.



From the middle-
distant medical

complex, billows 
of bodies regain

the air the empty 
rooms surrender.

If created in another’s 
image, our essence is

an optical effect— 
the brain a key

to words for what 
it reflects. Christ’s

sake, Kate, you’re
all a cloud might

think you look like 
from this height:

a cataract of common
wealth’s golden dome,

the whole of human 
history achieves me. 



Most things consist
of how you see them

(a bone-shaped bone
is usually a humerus).

Flying by the seat of the sound, 
these minutes within windows—

nameless trees, eponymous sky—
how everything transpires today.

Three times I lay one down. 
Three times a puff comes up

from the hole and it slides 
to the floor, its dusting of

paper thrones. Bad subject, 
I am laughing in an iron lung.

Leibniz is said to have dropped 
the “t” from his name because

he didn’t believe in time 
to believe in time to save

something: these weeds, 
dumped mattress, bloody ticking. 


The Rest
Time is a line with
different extremities
but “late” means both
going and gone. You
don’t pack an elegy
with abstractions, say,
“generous,” while some
specifics it’s best to omit
from the epitaph—
“Always ordered
the chicken sandwich.”
Events don’t happen

in time, they make it,
as language is made

of how we mean it. 
(I mean the opposite.)

I’m left with this 
fistful of fletchings, 

the point to which 
we never got. 

                            —for Craig Watson



If we are here to witness 
the world, what happens

when we see what we 
are not designed to?

Cells divide on slides, 
a river slithers from

an airplane window,
a girl applies mascara

to the camera. I saw
a sunfish once, thick

pad of fucked-up flesh, 
floating—what good

does this ugliness? 
Alien form of being

what it was. I have been
threaded with a scope,

am clear in there. Out here, 
my golden fleece fades into

the side of the hide 
that holds the meat.


Man Alive

What we see is not
the object: frescoes

peel away from plaster, 
pigment falls and holy

raiment wanders off 
like a wraith returned

to the artist’s intention. 
Ben-Hur is there to watch

the crucifixion, but dead 
can mean completely, as

in reckoned, set or right—
perfection is a sort of life.

Even chickens after the rain
take all the color of light. 


Kate Colby has published eight books of poetry and prose, including Reverse Engineer (Ornithopter Press) and Dream of the Trenches (Noemi Press). She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.