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Martha McCollough


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I like them so
you explain
how ravens pluck
out the eyes of
newborn lambs

oh [German accent]
did you think life was a disneyfilm?

I never forget the world
is a horror show

for example
deer will eat a bird
alive if they find one
caught in a mist net
or nesting low

so much for delicate
step & soft eye
as guarantors of virtue

they need protein
lack a theory of mind

a painted
pig offers
a bacon sandwich
from the side
of the bacon truck

I guess
we’re meant
to think, oh,
that’s okay then

bad news
about the pig:
that never happens


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Balios and Xanthos
mute in paper garlands
draw tourists once
around the park
(they have to be
their names chime
like something
you might need
more of
to restore perspective
help you sleep
a whole night
even while grieving
the stranger
who’s peeled
his heart that
centerless onion
interleaving layers
of terrible sad terrible
his dry heart
no longer expects
to hear his name
spoken in a glad voice
the old old horses
flow toward the west
looking for a place
to stop time
huge tearless eyes
tell how small
the world
& empty
how it rolls away


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lidless eyes glitter
with joie de vivre
long-jawed saurians
pleased with
the warm young
world everybody
smiling biting
down teeth like
a bed of nails
a fish swallows
a fish a spikier
fish looks on
the quiet one
starting to notice
we’re swimming
in murder soup
some crocodile types
grow feet climb out
onto the islands
who is there to eat up here
a sea serpent
breaches no wait
just head and neck
of something
caught in the jaws
of something else
mid-air pterodactyls
clatter their beaks
a long long tentacle
unfurls tugs
one down
manic thrashing
in the shallows
the drifting squid
calm expressionless
in                        it                        for                        the                        long                        haul.

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