volta OR she says children are born by being shoveled out of wolves’ bodies, but who does the shoveling? are all wolves, therefore, females; are all females, therefore, as vicious as wolves? tell me, my heart, what reality is

                        —i drain the nightingale

shove you in & through the moan


            interior of poem    these trained claws

pulling skin from—how do you say—the way a tongue celebrates its obsession   

accomplishing verbbody/ verbbody/ verb

wetverb/ wetverb/ wet    i drop

your bones from sky    get marrow

starve what desire i have


i have so much violence



bring me another nightingale

volta or we make guilty

    either it’s moving too fast or everyone is    in shock

    it’s not a metaphor it’s a bomb

    no a video

    of a bomb    no

    a video of a bomb    threat no

    the news

    the news the news    it gets


    when is real    when

    rhetorical (choice)    except the dead

    the dead the dead are real (rhetorical choices)

                arrogance is    always

                (the) right of gods    the right of first refusal


    the tub    with the pig’s blood

    they’ve collected so much the pigs

    & their blood

    time is/ the life/ of it    i’ll/ fear

    my fear is terrifying

    i didn’t want/ any of this/ in the poem    yet


                i’m my own femme fatale—

                i rot. my rotting roots

                take hold!

                            humiliation breaks even

                            a domesticated bitch

                            or is it beast    pretty


                            guardian—trickster! i know you

                            like to watch    my need    this need    my needless


                                                    —death (luck side up)

                                                    —the world (luck side down)     

                                                    —the empress (luck side up)

                the owl folds her body around my head

                as if weightless    scaffolded    offering protections

                o sweet chariot unlatch yourself!

                i’m going down let at least some element of the sacred survive!

                            theseus who has two fathers by what right

                            do you forsake

                            your sheep here

                                             they ate

                           each other    (mystery suffers hope) this

futuremodel meaning i can

                                              never be

                                               wise or know

                                               the future    should i

                                                be terrifying

fanny howe: if i freeze, one foot poised to go forward, to land on the path, i will at least   

be living in the present and the past will know it

robin blaser: nothing distinguishes me ontologically from a crystal, a planet, an animal or

the order of the world. we are/drifting together

octavia butler: there’s no end to what a living world will demand of you

rihanna: bitch better have my money

                            am i/ futural   

    what you wanted

                like any wild lion i love to fuck

                inspecting the arrows was it revenge.

                let’s    get out of control

                let’s    get out    controlled—

                some newviolence tries to fuck her    yet—

                she has had meat 

                there is surprise

                as she fucks newviolence

                i smell overwhelmed.

—who knew

there’d be so much blood so freeflowing in one fish

would you

raise me to death’s wound

to love immortal

to attend the will of my great daughter

to be good

                                              —what instrument

of other feeling unfastens impetuous

harsh thunder!

                burden me instead with abandon

                & sorrow

                what is comfort anyway!

                i like to win.

                some unheroically woundedwound

                some slipofvtongue    sister—

                                                                the scales.

                                                                the scales got everywhere

                                                                then the smell.

                                                                well my best friend says if it smells

                                                                like murder    it probably is


                            rub the horses down

                            we all need

                            hard exercise    (the parade of an allusion

                            of an elusive    adjective (an illusion))

                            whose power is a terror to my own sanctuary

                            is that all i am/ a repository   

    —what can’t

    be housed (in parenthesis)   

    what (housed in parenthesis) can’t

    be had—

    i return to the imaginative

    discomfort    of being.

    i return to the imaginative

    discomfort    of being/ seen: trust

    no vulture

    that would not eat the entrails

Leia Penina Wilson is proudly Samoan. She loves baking, mixing drinks, and tree-watching. When she’s not doing these things, she reads trashy paranormal romance novels and plays Magic the Gathering. She teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University. Her second book, splinters are children of wood, is available from Notre Dame Press. You can buy it here: https://undpress.nd.edu/9780268106171/splinters-are-children-of-wood/. // @rakishheir

Banner image by Olivia Cronk