Kirsten Kaschock

from Circle of Fifths


“You should know I’m writing again, for knot.”
This is the story one tells to a fork.
O road, I was done in by existing.
Halfway home, we parted ways to elsewhere.
I wanted to be well or less travelled
but was detached, and so paved empty lots.
Let go the mind—its wine-darkened logics.
By thin twist of twilight: a foolproof way
not to couple. Not to love. Love is thick.
Love is opaque as asphalt in our stars.


I say “I never met him” as needles
misspell his name on my spine. I didn’t
say it. The tongue twists over the seashore.
We sell ourselves. Short. There’s an art to it.
Doves eat the air. And doves eat bread. Doves mate
they say for life. The only thing I’ve done
is shed dust and poems… a kind of child.
The kind you attic. The kind you don’t feed.
The ladder of my vertebrae is steep.
You can’t get anywhere from there. Not here.


The best lies are designed for swallowing.
Each day for years, vitamins hurt the heart.
Some asanas release stress through effort.
I press my knees in tight as if my knees
want to pray. What does this posture promise?
The court of the floor rejects petition.
Such a small thing, I, my limbs not long.
For this world one must cultivate a whole
host of practices, a whole host. Do it!
And just when you begin to believe, don’t.


Pound for pound, I’d rather Ezra. To pound
it down. Pound it cake, pat-cake, the racist
in me. A little Murica in my
life signifies we’re all mad here. Some tea?
Let’s get this party started—blow shit up.
Eleven-thousand gun deaths taste of black
treacle. The police state shows a profound
lack of will, and ambience. Build fancy
walls: the rich won’t hole-up, the sky will. Bombs
are so coldwar. Dead glaciers fail better.


The plural of tsunami: tsunami.
Like fish, we don’t count the ocean. Algae
is/are failing to bloom. We are all bees
of the invisible and it has been
collapsing and this is seen but is not.
Scene. Duct tape cannot seal a house from death.
There once was a whale. Once too a dodo.
The maths are subtractions and exponents.
Once, three men in a tub meant lullaby.
Why, at goodnight, is there always rocking?

Kirsten Kaschock has authored three books of poetry: Unfathoms, A Beautiful Name for a Girl, and The Dottery—winner of the Donald Hall Prize for poetry. Her debut novel, Sleight, is a work of speculative fiction about performance. She has earned a PhD in English from the University of Georgia and another in dance from Temple University. A new hybrid text Confessional Sci-fi: A Primer is forthcoming from Subito Press. She is on faculty at Drexel University and serves as editor-in-chief for thINKing DANCE, a consortium of Philadelphia dance artists and writers.
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