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Four Poems
The Cycle Needs a Body

Climate change in retro-
grade, Mercury strikes
a tuning fork, listen.
Are we a nation
of clean towels?
Glossy beanpods
on the twanging ground,
twisted like rams’ horns:
in my childhood
everything was carob-
Skids of ice
in the middle of the body,
cycles of seagulls.
On the other shore,
pasture and industry.
Alpha bird, bottle top,
inside-out blue
jeans, dried reeds
shuffle, Styrofoam drift-
wood, tumbled Shofar,
river tide by
radio, by Mercury,
the lens slips, the focus
shifts, are we even
in the picture?


No Birds on Foot

Under cover,
the ground seems
I can’t sit
on the shore
in January,
unless I’m to be
the verdigris
of winter.
Yellow ice
bleeds through
the fabric,
yellow leaf
stitches its own


Lion in Winter 
All winter, beggar oak
stripped of gold coin
and the male lead.
Rain blows slats
through the forest,
knocking-bolls of wood,
swans like thrift-
store bridesmaids.
A seagull gusts by
with a body in its arms,
pursued by other seagulls.
Rhinestone cigarette pack,
the mustard breaks loose
from the beehive, waving
screw of an inchworm,
rocks like armor,
spidery cell towers,
mane of smoke,
old oak
with new pinfeathers.


Suicide/Sui Generis
Swans at Swan Point
today, but no energy
in the sentence. What
masturbates language:
collars of grime
around their stems,
the act of plumbing.
Water is excited
just being water. Quick
circle around a top
hat, inelegant title,
long growl of clouds
we both know is an airplane.
To assign them ghosts,
to wonder about corpses,
is window shopping.
I try to open myself
but I keep filling in
for you. You sit
beside me, you miss
your children or I
miss them for you,
swans like unicorns,

Kirstin Allio’s books are the novels Buddhism for Western Children (University of Iowa, 2018) and Garner (Coffee House, 2005), and the short story collection Clothed, Female Figure (Dzanc, 2016). She has received fellowships from Brown University’s Howard Foundation and MacDowell. She lives in Providence, RI.