Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Cobourg, ON, Canada. She has been published in Stuart Ross's anthology 529, by Carolyn Smart in Lake Effect Five, The Changing Image, and The Antigonish Review's Poet Grow-Op. Recently she received an honourable mention at the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Awards in Kitchener, and was on the poetry shortlist for the 2011 Matrix Litpop Awards and Prism's Poetry Prize 2012. She has a short story included in the anthology Nouns of Assemblage published by Housefire Publishing and poetry appearing, or forthcoming in the Red River Review, In/Words, The Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Prick of the Spindle, Tampa Review, Fox Chase Review, CV2, and Branch Magazine. She has a chapbook forthcoming from Cactus Press in Toronto called Slow States of Collapse.Currently she is completing my BaH in History and English at Queen’s University in Kingston.
Theories of Animal Memory
Memory mechanisms, responsiveness
to environmental events: thinking
organisms cannot sleep all the time,
must have purposive action. Memory
refers to something occurring
within the head of a thinking
Memory is an unshelled victim.
Cognition is goal oriented.
Seek to understand how
animals use their intelligence
to solve problems in their environment.
This is tough talk. Cognitive systems, a product of evolution.
Biological constraints on
cognition: without memory
only an empty vessel
The descent begins, weather
the star-eaten sky.
I follow the trail of eyes,
those who've come before me.
This pulse, the fence line
the owl dares not cross.
I follow the river down,
feel the bloom of heat,
all the eyes freeze-framed.
I'll eat the continents,
pull their meandering
pluck out the hang-nail acres.
Time tracks the roots through
boneyards, knows the shape
I knew this was some slow
beckoning dream death, you
below, me collapsing like
water into you. A small panicked
Matty's got notches on his cheek
that shrug up around his eye and
stop at the knotted flesh on his hairline.
I visit him at the county jail, he has
been here before and tells me a
few things I didn't know, like what
to do when you pull a score or get
I feel bad coming in this silly
suit now that he is a boy of the
common thread. His broken
jaw shook, flicker-click
My hand reached forward, made
grubby grasps at him, this lame flower,
climbed one notch at a time
levelling my prints into the dent
of his old armour.
I strummed those chunks irregular
soaked in the unknowing, the
churches of his tears.
All bodies are gusted differently.
The triage room is meant for
the hungering viperous fuse of
Body retreated into husked gestures.
What number are you at?
Right adnexal mass is identified, maximum dimensions of 8x 6.3 cm. A lump of tissue that could be an
ovarian cyst, most likely benign.
Flourishing cells, unrelenting
Live red lips smacking
a salty howl, calling to saints, but
full bladder beckons.
Internal damages bind my organs,
to feel near adherence to
some bodily knowing.