the poetry that matters

Ashley-Elizabeth Best

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







I Seek


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

coasts in,

pluck out the hang-nail acres.


Time tracks the roots through

boneyards, knows the shape

of man.


I knew this was some slow

beckoning dream death, you

below, me collapsing like

water into you. A small panicked





Treading Tomorrow


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.



Presenting Complaint


All bodies are gusted differently.


The triage room is meant for

the hungering viperous fuse of


Heart rate

Blood pressure

Pain scale

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.

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                                                                                                           June 6, 2012