Kristy Bowen





The hooved girl won't hardly leave the tent.

Won't let the gawkers near enough to touch

the glossy tresses, chestnut as a mare.

Now, it's all washtubs and stolen pocket watches,

the poison boutonnière.


She'd send pigeons if she had them.

Instead, trawls the crowd for the man

with the widest grin. Spreads her thighs

against the hood of his truck and thinks

of her mother's house in Dayton full

of dresses and coffeepots.


Quiets his grunting with a quick kick

to the ankles. A quick twitch of her silky tail.


The radio glows like arsenic.

Everything gauzy as good muslin.

Her Coney Island, her vaudeville farce.

Rows on rows of debutantes.


She conjures a cry at the back of her throat.

Can taste tungsten, a little wire.




god and circus


It's all in the wrist, the dumb luck.

The dark room with its fidgeting

women. They make a noise like

a slipping. A noise like a sway.

Milk goes thick on the counter

while the preacher takes my mother's hands

and places them against his chest.

A rapture of barrettes and clothespins,

all that fastening, two and two

together. She sews herself into

god like a button, names her daughters

obscure, reservoir, bitterweed.

Keeps them hidden beneath the porch,

feeling out the dark as if it

were an object. It's my second language,

this underwater moaning. Hands sewn

tight together and the dresser plumb

with the window where, nightly, we all

escape, silver scars tracing our forearms.

Where we drown in yards and yards of blue tulle,

fall in and out of focus, my tongue

a trinket. A ring in a plastic bubble.

I travel under the guise of refraction.

No one is the wiser.



dr. harold's cabinet of wonders

after Simone Muench's Orange Girl


baton girl lizard girl show girl

rope girl gorilla girl pretty girl

bird girl little girl mermaid girl

dead girl party girl two-headed girl

weather girl gator girl strange girl

calendar girl spider girl bad girl

headless girl rubber girl cigarette girl

dumb girl call girl dog girl



diana of the hives


The night seals you in,

softening, seamless.


Eyelids, throat, the glistening

curve of your ear canal.


This body inside the body

untenable. First surge,


then swarm. It keeps for days

in jars, makes you sick


with it, wasps in the joists

of the floorboards,

drones in the blankets, their frenzied

fingers caressing the abdomen.

Every eaten queen identical to the last,

every hollow loosening to gold.